What Is DEI in Education and How Can Universities Improve It?

What is DEI?

DEI is the common abbreviation for diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is a critical aspect of any organization—and DEI in education is especially important. DEI at a higher education institution encompasses the policies and practices designed to ensure that every member of the institution (including students, faculty, and staff) have equal opportunities for success and inclusion, no matter their background.

DEI in Higher Education

DEI is a priority especially for higher education, because it impacts not just the workforce, but the entire campus. DEI comes into play when recruiting students, hiring faculty and staff, shaping campus culture, encouraging career advancement or setting up tenure processes, examining employment budgets, and making forward-looking decisions.

DEI initiatives in higher education are often linked to each other. For example, prioritizing DEI when recruiting faculty can help an institution support a diverse student body. The American Council on Education (ACE) noted that “Diversity brings with it a number of educational benefits…inclusion means having a valued voice, seeing others like you represented around you and in the curriculum, and knowing you belong and matter.” ACE also writes that it is critical for colleges and universities to place DEI at the core of their institution by approaching it as mission-critical and making it everybody’s responsibility. For higher education, DEI is not a simple issue. It stretches across the entire community—whether you are in admissions, human resources, or academic affairs, DEI should be on your mind.

DEI Initiatives

When DEI is a core value and a priority, institutions must make strategic and data-driven decisions about their DEI initiatives. In fact, many colleges and universities are launching data-based DEI initiatives with the help of tools like PeopleAdmin’s Insights, which can show an institution where on campus their DEI efforts might be breaking down.

Northern Illinois University’s Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity office recently rethought their EEO workflows with the help of PeopleAdmin’s customizable Applicant Tracking System. Transforming those processes also helped the team realize that they could build equal opportunity best practices into the workflows of every individual department, rather than keeping it as an externally managed process. DEI should be everyone’s responsibility, as noted in a HigherEd Today article, and Northern Illinois University’s plan is taking that to heart.

Quote: "Now, the institution is targeting DEI retention efforts to make a difference on campus."The University of Arkansas has leveraged PeopleAdmin’s analytics tools to easily access the information they need to make data-based decisions about diversity initiatives and hiring trends. They quickly identified areas that needed more attention, including veteran and disabled hiring, using information they had struggled to parse before.

At Georgia Southern University, the employment services team used data in their ATS to get to the bottom of one of their DEI challenges. They discovered that retention was the real issue, thanks to metrics about candidates, hiring, and current employees across the university. Now, the institution is targeting DEI retention efforts to make a difference on campus.


Reach out to PeopleAdmin

PeopleAdmin’s robust analytics tools offer key insights and metrics across your entire campus, including recruiting, hiring, onboarding, performance management, faculty workloads, and student outcomes. With all your data at your fingertips, your team can manage your DEI initiatives and pinpoint areas for growth and improvement. Reach out to our experts to learn more!