Past, Present and Future: DEI, Higher Ed and What’s Next

Elaina Steingard and Bari Richardson

The Past: Technology, Education, History 

Technology and education are two industries with a lot in common (We’d know: seeing as we sit at the intersection of both). For instance, both have a reverence for history. Whether it’s the lessons of great authors or the tech startups that didn’t make it but still pushed their industry forward, history is meant to be learned from and built upon. 

Unfortunately, documenting history and learning from it aren’t the same; and the latter has been—to the detriment of both industries, the people they serve and the world around them—overlooked and undervalued.   

Dice released an Equality In Tech report, which asked more than 9,000 industry professionals about their workplace experiences.  

According to Dice’s survey, nearly half of all Black respondents had experienced race-based discrimination.  

Dice also sought to better understand how women in technology feel they are treated. When asked about gender discrimination in the technology sector, more than half of the women who responded to the survey had experienced discrimination. 

Members of the LGBTQIA+ community reported similar experiences. In a survey conducted by Blind (an anonymous workplace chat app), more than 7,000 Silicon Valley industry professionals were polled on their perception of their company's treatment of LGBTQIA+ employees. Almost 40% of respondents said they had personally witnessed discriminatory or homophobic behavior. 

These findings are unacceptable. So why are they unsurprising?

This month, we celebrate Pride Month and Juneteenth. These important observances provide us two distinct opportunities to elevate critical discussions, learn from history's mistakes and plan to do better in the future.  

The Present: Knowing Where You Stand and Doing the Right Thing 

A first step toward inclusivity at any company, large or small, is doing the right thing. There are systematic challenges in the form of people and processes in both tech and higher ed. And there is a movement underfoot to change industries from the inside out. It starts with making and keeping commitments that result in a stronger, more inclusive environment. 

You cannot change what you cannot see. That’s why it’s important to benchmark where your company currently sits with diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Lean into surveys and data to understand fully where your company’s starting line is in this journey. Learn how your processes support (or fail to support) marginalized communities and commit to continuous improvement. For example, through input from employees and customers at CampusLogic, we are learning how to make our solutions more equitable and accessible. Starting with quantitative practices establishes greater organizational inclusivity and sets your organization up for a more equitable future, which can start in the present. 

Many companies are beginning to take impactful steps toward allyship and inclusivity. Invitae, a company specializing in at-home genetic testing, launched seven employee resource groups (ERGs) in six months and developed informal but impactful conversations to expand knowledge and foster a sense of allyship and community. Beyond this, they’ve put a dedicated emphasis on diverse, inclusive hiring practices to ensure that their hiring practices are equitable; which, in turn, strengthens their team and brings in extremely qualified, capable candidates. 

Sitting at the intersection of higher education and technology, CampusLogic proudly advocates for marginalized communities. We firmly believe advocacy can’t be something that happens once a year, for show. That’s why conversations around diversity, equity and inclusivity are held year-round, a value we know impacts the wellbeing of our teammates. We are working every day to ensure that our workplace is not only a haven for the team today, but that it will continue to be an environment of allyship, continued learning and acceptance. To do this, we have established two ERGs, and we’re excited to help them grow and thrive. 

Our mission to help schools change lives is rooted in seven core values. These transcend how we build our products, our company culture and relationships with our customers. We believe everyday advocacy should be skewed toward action. One such value, “We are kind and take care of each other,” doesn’t just belong on a coffee mug.  

Creating an authentic and supportive culture means acknowledging the experiences of all communities. Higher ed is well-positioned to serve as a vessel of compassion, and at CampusLogic, we continue to learn from our customers, our employees and their experiences. 

The Future: Continued Growth and Facing What Lies Ahead 

This work does not stop. We have transformed neglect into acknowledgment, and now the mission is to turn acknowledgment into sustainable change. Achieving the outcome of belonging is a constant journey.  

It takes courage to challenge the status quo and embrace an unknown path ahead. But, learning from our past and measuring our present creates a solid roadmap for our future. Building equitable industries for all is a journey that may have no end, and that is OK.  

Renowned author Simon Sinek outlines an important concept in his book, The Infinite Game. For many organizations looking to make a change, they focus on micro-goals that can be easily checked off the list. But for organizations looking to inspire their employees and leave their space better than they found it, Sinek argues that adopting an “infinite” mindset is key.  

Focus on what is behind you, where you are now, and what lies ahead. Understand that the status quo is constantly evolving and should always be challenged. That is the beauty of the higher education and tech industries – we are hyper-focused on using the past and present to change the future and inspire future generations. 

We are on the right path, and we are excited about the work that has yet to be done. 

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