An open letter to President Eisgruber,
Thank you for your thoughtful and transparent note of Sept. 2 on the quest for diversity at Princeton. This is indeed an imperative for our country and for Princeton to hopefully finally live up to the ideals we have espoused for centuries yet failed to bring to bear in reality.
I have one suggestion for your team I did not perceive from your write up. Diversity without an inclusive culture is not sustainable — increasing the diversity in the organization but maintaining a non inclusive culture just results in attrition and lack of engagement from underrepresented groups. Worse, it can make it miserable to be in that environment. I would love to see some planks in your platform that reflect a commitment to training and investment in building an inclusive leadership mindset in all faculty and administrative staff as well as in the students who will graduate and become the future leaders of this nation in the public and private sectors. This is a look in the mirror requirement and builds the understanding and commitment of each individual to own how they contribute to to the current state (regardless of intent) and what they must do to be part of the solution. We must stop telling underrepresented groups what they need to do to “fit in” and start training everyone on how to be an inclusive leader, how to create an inclusive environment, and what the benefits are for individuals and organizations for doing so (which are vast and well documented).
Make inclusive leadership training required coursework for all majors (students) and mandatory faculty training, add inclusive leadership criteria to evaluations for faculty and staff including having it directly impact compensation, promotions, and other reward systems, using subordinate, student, and peer feedback as input for these evaluations, metrics on inclusive sponsorship, promotions, mentoring, etc. Make it measured and transparent how individuals are doing in making the shift real. You will need to take bold action to remove people who cannot make the shift — sending unambiguous signals about what will not be tolerated.
The systems need to be changed but if we change the mindset so all leaders are able to more easily see bias of their own and others and the system and have the commitment and the tools to proactively address those situations, we can make much faster and more permanent/sustainable progress than if we try to fix the problem one policy at a time or with quotas or targets for diversity alone. Shift from a mindset of rooting out systematic bias to a mindset of creating a truly inclusive culture — they are very different things and will have very different results. I will be most proud of a Princeton who leads the world in creating an inclusive culture and all the rewards it will bring.