The National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) recently hosted a special two-day “Diversity Summit” workshop for ten select schools from its Convergence College Network (CCN). Each school sent three attendees – an instructor, an advisor, and an administrator. The “Diversity Summit” provided a forum to hear best practices on recruiting and retaining under-served populations from a group of experts and to use those practices to develop a customized action plan to take back to their programs and implement.
Below are a few highlights of advice provided by the “Diversity Summit” speakers on the matter of successfully recruiting and retaining under-served populations.
- Business and industry need diverse input. Without diversity, business solutions come from the same perspective over and over. Diversity not only enhances innovation, but diverse boardrooms often yield better profits.
- Document everything. Data is essential, so be sure you’re measuring the implementation and impact of your efforts. Remember the NSF “so what?” guideline. It’s not enough to hold an event for 40 people. You need to also answer the “so what?” – how did the event change things for those 40 people? Consider carrying with you an “impact sheet” so that you’re always ready to share numbers and successes.
- Make sure students can see themselves in your program. Whether it’s website photos, marketing materials, or classroom posters, the image you project of IT careers and IT workers must be a diverse one.
- Once you build it, be consistent. Strong ongoing diversity programs are those that are given time to succeed. Avoid the temptation to abandon one strategy – especially if it’s working – and try something new.
- Party with a purpose. Strive to go beyond just hosting a “feel good” recruiting event. Have clear goals in mind. Think through the event. Consider ways to maximize your time with students and develop ways to measure the event’s impact.
- Use social media often. Post on Facebook once a day and use Twitter to drive people to those posts. Don’t be afraid to post images taken with an iPhone. Not every post needs to be slick and polished.
- You can’t do it alone. Develop relationships outside of your program to give you additional support, whether it’s with business and industry leaders (to provide career role models) or your admissions office (to better understand and sell your program to students). This can take time, but the results will be worth it in the end.
You can watch the “Diversity Summit” presentations here.