Campus & community, Campus news

How Chancellor Christ plans to expand staff diversity

Christ describes UC Berkeley's present efforts and future plans to increase the diversity of staff and to improve their experience on campus

Carol Christ smiling in front of the campus

Chancellor Carol Christ (UC Berkeley photo by Keegan Houser)

Dear campus community,

What follows is the third in a series of messages about our plans to expand the diversity of our university community in the broadest sense and in every form. Last December, I outlined the overarching values and objectives of these efforts and focused on the work underway on the Undergraduate Student Diversity Project. Then, later that month, I sent an update on faculty-oriented initiatives. Today, I am writing to describe our present efforts and future plans to increase the diversity of our staff and to improve the experience we provide for them.

The case for the benefits of diversity of human qualities and attributes — such as origin, identity, abilities, beliefs and perspectives — remains largely the same across the campus’s population groups. The excellence of our university and its educational mission depend upon it, and our responsibilities as a public institution in California cannot be fully met if we do not embody the diversity of the state we serve.

A diverse staff is vital. Research shows that diversity in a workforce is directly correlated to improved performance. In both the private and public sectors, ample evidence shows that more diverse organizations are better able to attract top talent and improve employee satisfaction. Diversity facilitates innovation and better decision-making.

Yet, improving recruitment and hiring practices, and ridding them of bias and discrimination, is insufficient. All staff members — like all students and faculty members — can do their best work if they feel valued and have a true sense of belonging to a community committed to equity.

Broadly speaking, our efforts to increase the demographic diversity of campus staff are similar to those for the faculty: improved recruitment practices, professional development programs and support for an equitable, welcoming and respectful workplace. We have heard from our staff that the quality of one’s campus experience varies greatly, depending on demographic factors. Our underrepresented minority colleagues express the least satisfaction with their experience here. We must not allow that to persist.

At every level of our organization, people are coming together to help eliminate inequities, bias and discrimination. Making meaningful improvements in the staff experience depends on our ability to measure what matters, make the data accessible for all and ensure the information is used to support our goals and values. The campus’s Central Human Resources office is now analyzing and discussing diversity-related data with the Council of Ethnic Staff Organizations (CESO). The data include information about representation across all staff levels, new hires, internal mobility and employment separations. This information will be broadly shared with senior leaders, recruitment teams, department heads and other key stakeholder groups so that, together, we can work from the same page to make necessary improvements. Staff demographic information is available on the HR Census section of the CalAnswers website.

Two important additional sources of data are the UC systemwide employee engagement survey, to be distributed later this spring, and our own recently released campuswide “My Experience” climate survey, which is closing soon, on April 25. I urge all of you to take advantage of these opportunities to share your perspectives and insights. By providing this critical information, you can play an important role in facilitating the changes needed to make Berkeley an extraordinary place to work and learn.

In terms of staff diversity efforts, significant initiatives are underway to develop a more equitable and inclusive workplace environment. As part of these initiatives, our Central Human Resources office, in partnership with the Division of Equity & Inclusion, have formed a constituent board with 14 representatives from units and staff organizations across campus, as well as two executive sponsors (vice chancellors Marc Fisher and Oscar Dubon). As a source of advice and as an agent of organizational change, the board’s initial focus is helping to identify and address institutional bias and barriers that impede the success, advancement and job satisfaction of staff of color. Collaborative efforts between Central HR and the Division of Equity & Inclusion that are underway and supported by the constituent board include:

  1. The Leadership and Career Enhancement Program for Staff of Color (LCEP) launched in spring 2018 to provide professional development, mentoring, coaching and senior level sponsorship for staff of color. Two cohorts have completed the program and selection of the next two was completed last month. We are examining ways to grow the program and to create additional development opportunities and retention programs for staff in underrepresented minority (URM) categories.
  2. The Staff Equity Advisors’ Network that will support efforts in academic and administrative departments to create optimal, equitable workplace conditions. This new network will provide consultation on best practices to remove structural and institutional barriers to success and on steps needed to improve morale and to build belonging for all.
  3. The development and implementation of policies and processes to support equitable and transparent hiring practices for all positions on our campus and to ensure we always have highly qualified, truly diverse candidate pools. We are in the process of hiring our first-ever diversity program recruiter who, in collaboration with our talent acquisition/recruiting team, will be spearheading these efforts. For manager-level hires, we will be implementing required components that will include, but not be limited, to:
  • ensuring search committees are appropriately diverse and that committee members take the UCOP Implicit Bias online training course;
  • reviewing the job description to ensure required qualifications are valid and do not unintentionally limit the applicant pool;
  • including diversity questions/statements as part of the initial interview questionnaire and the interview guide;
  • ensuring consistent outreach to places where diverse candidates seek job opportunities; and
  • building a diversity focus requirement into the procurement process for external search firms.

In addition, disability as a form of diversity has been and will continue to be woven into our staff-focused efforts, from the workplace to regular recruitment fairs targeting candidates with disabilities. Based on recent research, we know that disability tends to be more prevalent in underrepresented communities, and we are working to analyze and better understand the intersection of disability, race and ethnicity. Moreover, Berkeley has a deep, unique and historic commitment to disability inclusion that should be reflected in the diversity of our staff at every level and advanced through initiatives now underway to develop a more equitable and inclusive workplace environment.

Later this semester, I will be sending another message to the campus community about the full range of efforts, both current and planned, that focus on the needs and interests of our community members with disabilities — students, staff, faculty and guests — so they can fully participate in and contribute to the university experience.

While the initiatives described here offer a good sense of the efforts and planning underway, this list is not comprehensive. More information about existing staff diversity programs is available on the Staff Diversity Initiatives website and the Central Human Resources website. While it is impossible to capture everything happening in this realm on our large, decentralized campus, I want to acknowledge the numerous and innovative steps being taken across the university to advance diversity in administrative and academic units. We are committed to supporting this important work and to applying lessons learned to future campuswide efforts.

In the weeks ahead, we will provide a similar update about initiatives underway to support Berkeley’s graduate students, as well as issue the aforementioned message describing efforts in support of members of the campus community with disabilities.

I have been heartened and encouraged by the broad support and understanding you have shown for the values, objectives and efforts that, together, are at the heart of our intention to build a better, more diverse, more equitable and more inclusive university for one and all.


Carol Christ, chancellor