NWTC Diversity Work: Interview With First Chief Officer for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Earlier this summer, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) released Everyone Has Worth: A Guide to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at NWTC, its updated resource guide to better tell its story around the work the college is doing to ensure a culture of equity and student success for all. An ATD Leader College, NWTC serves more than 40,000 students annually and has multiple locations in Wisconsin, with its main campus located in Green Bay. The college president, Dr. Jeff Rafn, also shared a Call to Action to remove racism from societal culture in the wake of George Floyd’s death. 

Achieving the Dream spoke earlier this week with Mohammed Bey, NWTC’s newly named chief officer for diversity, equity, and inclusion. In announcing the new position, President Rafn said: “The chief officer for diversity, equity, and inclusion will help us initiate, sustain, and evaluate efforts to close achievement gaps, bring more students of color into high-wage careers, and recruit more diverse talent to our faculty and staff. With this new position on the Executive Leadership Team, we will elevate our focus on ensuring access, effective teaching and learning, and success for all people of color.” 

Resource for faculty, staff, students, community
Bey said the 32-page resource is intended for faculty and staff, students, the community, and prospective additions to the at-large community to be able to say: “Here’s our story,” and here are all the ways NWTC is working to build a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment. 

The guide, which was released in May, includes the college’s strategic practices, initiatives, and goals around diversity and inclusion. Beginning with common language, important terminology used throughout the guide is defined before moving to making the case that diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential to the college meeting its strategic goals. 

Bey, who before his promotion served in the college’s human resources department as director of diversity and inclusion, said this resource is an update to earlier version, The Equity Guide, created in 2016. Bey said the updated resource guide is useful for employee trainings, onboarding, and recruitment and retention.

“From a recruitment and retention perspective, it’s great to be able to have a piece that says, ‘Hey, this is happening, here’s what we’re doing,” he said. Additionally, elevating the DEI position to make it part of the Executive Leadership Team means he can be more intentional about making sure vice presidents are taking this back to their teams, Bey said. 

Campus Survey Data, Diversity Education Programming
Some of the best parts of the resource, Bey said, include campus survey data and the diversity education programming, which includes iRespect certification levels and employee involvement groups. On the Learner Feedback Survey, completed at the end of each class, a question on equity resulted in 69 percent of respondents strongly agreeing that the instructor created a learning environment that was inclusive by being respectful of diversity. To better gauge perceptions, a Campus Climate Survey found that on average, campus instructors and staff created a climate for a vast majority that was inclusive and respectful, ranked at 4.6 out of five.  

NWTC offers multiple program offerings for diversity education. This includes iRespect!, a college-wide movement to cultivate a welcoming and safe environment for all, with programming for faculty and staff as well as students. NWTC has more than 30 diversity and cultural awareness programs to offer faculty and staff to learn more about veterans, disabilities, and other current equity-related matters. And beginning in 2019, NWTC began Employee Involvement Groups to provide another avenue for employee engagement. The groups are employee-initiated and led focused on a common human characteristic, such as race, ethnicity, or ability. 

View the complete guide: Everyone Has Worth: A Guide to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at NWTC.

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