November 7, 2023 – The United States Supreme Court's decision to overturn affirmative action last June sent shockwaves through higher education. Many HR experts continue to discuss how the Supreme Court's decision will ultimately impact the workplace and future talent pipelines.
We sat down with DeVry University's chief administrative officer Dave Barnett to learn the impact that the decision will have in the workplace now and in the future.
As these discussions are happening, what impact do you see on the workforce as a result of this decision?
Long before the SCOTUS decision, diversity, equity and inclusion efforts have been a priority for DeVry University. We are adamant in our belief that a diverse colleague population makes us a better organization because we bring more perspectives to our students. The Supreme Court decision only highlights the vital need for diversity, equity and inclusion efforts within organizations. DEI efforts must be an organization-wide priority and be led from the top down. At DeVry, we have intentionally infused our mission into our messaging to attract mission-centric candidates who would be passionate about the work we are doing. We are very intentional about who we serve and why. And as an organization, we have done a lot to address the opportunity gap that is so prevalent in this country.
As we look at the workforce and the incoming talent pipeline, diversity, belonging and inclusion are critical to building successful talent retention strategies. HR Leaders should emphasize their organization's mission and values to continue attracting diverse talent, and they should ensure equitable pathways to upskilling for all employees. By connecting organizational mission to day-to-day work, and by ensuring a diverse set of colleagues can access development and advancement, we position ourselves to build and maintain diverse, committed teams.
Many organizations are likely taking a hard look at their DEI efforts. Do you anticipate changes?
The decision has once again highlighted the vital need for diversity, equity and inclusion efforts within organizations. This is critical to building successful talent attraction and retention strategies. Research increasingly shows colleagues (employees) expect to bring their full selves to work, and in order for this to be possible, we need to create environments that foster openness and a sense of belonging.
Belonging is a critical factor in improving engagement, performance, retention and institutional success. We have worked extremely hard to cultivate a Culture of CARE so that it's embodied in our colleagues at every level of the organization. We work diligently to uphold our culture of care, which includes care for self, care for colleagues and care for students, so our recruiters are trained to be able to actually measure for culture and fit.
What should organizations focus on to continue supporting DEI efforts?
Intentionality is key when creating and implementing DEI initiatives. This is why organizations should continue to support their DEI efforts at every level. As a higher education institution, we believe we can make progress through education, and prioritizing DEI efforts can also help to remove these barriers and ensure that all students have equal access to the opportunities that higher education can provide. For instance, our scholars’ programs, Women+Tech Scholars and NextGen Hispanic Scholars provide access to educational, community, mentorships, and other resources aimed to help diverse students to break through tech-empowered careers.
The bottom-line is that some organizations will see this as a call to further invest in internal DEI efforts, and some will see this as a reason to move away from them. Those that continue to invest in developing a diverse workforce will be the ultimate winners because the complex markets in which organizations operate necessitate diverse perspectives to thrive.