How University of Phoenix Is Addressing Systemic InequitiesMarch 18, 2021
University of Phoenix has always been tuned into the inequities of the world. In fact, these disparities became the basis for how the University was originally founded. In 1976, higher education focused on younger, more traditional students. The University’s founder sought to level the playing field for adult students who had more responsibilities in their lives. Today, the University is taking even more concrete steps to address the calls for equality and ensure that every student has a fair chance at higher education.
Webinars for Inclusion
In late 2020, the University partnered with the National Diversity Council to sponsor a webinar titled “Essential Conversations in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion”. The four-day seminar was made possible by industry leaders in healthcare, criminal justice and higher education. The series looked at communities as a whole rather than approaching the problem from a university-focused perspective.
This event made it possible to create a blueprint from stronger conversations in order to drive change across organizations. The larger goal is to identify inequities and address them before they develop into the systemic problems like those we face today.
Instead of one comprehensive review per year, it might be better to have three or four shorter reviews. University of Phoenix adopted this system itself, and it has shown to be helpful in keeping connections with employees and fostering productive conversations. With remote work, losing the connection that forms from in-person interaction is easy. Frequent reviews allows more one-on-one time. Plus, there are fewer surprises for the employee. Staff will know exactly how they are doing and whether they are improving, without waiting an entire year for feedback. The employee also feels supported every step of the way.
Finding a Balance
Many organizations call for attention to fight for justice without actually doing much to fix the problem themselves. People may shake their heads at a system that allows only certain people to advance, but the path forward to implement change includes many obstacles that make action feel impossible or incredibly daunting.
University of Phoenix understands this paradox in its entirety, which is why its staff is focused on relearning best practices to give future generations the opportunity to choose the path they want in life.
In practice, this might mean starting with a needs assessment that evaluates organizational vulnerabilities or outright unintentional promotion of inequity. This helps address whether corporate leaders actually embrace a culture founded on diversity and inclusion. Companies can consider the benefits of bringing on new board members who would offer a fresh perspective on culture and ethnicity. Organizations must honestly evaluate whether they have the tools they need to serve everyone, including both employees and the larger community.
A Commitment to Move Forward
University of Phoenix paid close attention to its own assessments and focused on training sessions that help everyone understand where they actually fall on the spectrum. Staff members may believe they do not fall victim to common biases, but their actions may tell a very different story.
University of Phoenix wants its students to know that they belong. Leaders are asking all departments to brainstorm how they can better help students and work with other entities to improve their results. This process will grow and change over time, helping everyone move beyond standard conversations and platitudes to the real change.
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