Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Professional Network
With over 100 members representing 50 units—each having its own DEI strategic plan—the DEI Implementation Leads Group (DEI-ILG) supports and develops leaders across the institution. In the past year, members demonstrated resilience, adaptability and fortitude as they moved through the final year of the initial five-year DEI Strategic Plan. As they and many others across campus continued with remote operations, DEI Leads worked to mitigate the disparate impact of inequities while advancing new efforts to address structural racism. Rather than winding down, the Leads refocused and amplified DEI efforts that will continue for years to come.
Among its most meaningful accomplishments, the university’s five-year Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategic planning process created a vibrant campus network of DEI-related professionals—both faculty and staff—in many cases adding DEI work to their existing positions or appointments. Through programs that provide resources and support, facilitate collaboration and enhance outcomes for individual and collective projects, the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (ODEI) has sustained and expanded this vibrant group of professionals charged with managing implementation of their unit-based DEI plans. Functioning as a campuswide catalyst, the Implementation Leads Group contributes in vital ways to the success of every DEI professional across the university by encouraging collaboration and enhancing impact at both the unit and university level.
During the 2020–21 academic year, ODEI continued to organize monthly DEI-ILG meetings via Zoom to share best practices, discuss issues and engage with guest speakers and one another. After each meeting, DEI Leads received an email summary that included links to resources and tools from central administration. A new DEI Leads workplace site provided an additional remote venue for information sharing and connection.
In Year Five, the collective actions of the Implementation Leads Group continued to generate significant impact across campus. As in years past, DEI Leads guided their units’ work across recruitment and retention, education and research in an effort to build an equitable and inclusive environment. This included leading and doing DEI work by developing programs and advising on policies and practices. In addition, they created communication and feedback channels to keep their community members informed and engaged.
DEI Leads advocated for stronger attention to anti-racism in campuswide DEI work and demonstrated a new level of leadership in moving anti-racist initiatives forward. Many DEI Leads participated in multiple professional development opportunities focused on anti-racism offered by campus experts as well as external organizations. In summer 2021, a U-M Strategic DEI Leadership Institute was offered as the annual DEI Leads professional development opportunity. Led by Dr. Damon A. Williams, U-M alumnus and founder of the National Inclusive Excellence Academy, this two-day virtual retreat focused on leading anti-racism efforts, allyship and preparing for a campuswide transition to the next DEI Strategic Plan initiative, DEI 2.0.
In past years, the efforts of DEI Leads have been recognized at a lunch celebration hosted by President Schlissel and Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Sellers. This past year, President Schlissel, CDO Sellers and Provost Susan Collins participated in multiple DEI Leads meetings to recognize ongoing efforts and engage in discussion. An in-person recognition event will be held in fall 2021 as part of the annual DEI Summit.
Going forward, the Leads will continue to advance DEI efforts with immediate impact as well as initiatives that lay the groundwork for sustained and lasting change.