Institutions must strive to attract and ensure the equal consideration of diverse pools of applicants in the search process and to maintain those appointees and establish them for success once they are on campus.

Fremont, CA: To ensure a smooth, effective change of leadership, a well-structured transition and onboarding plan is crucial, especially when transitioning and onboarding candidates from historically underserved communities and those who serve as pioneers in the organizations they now lead.

The onboarding cycle is when applicants who have worked hard to hire and employ institutions first engage with the current culture on campus and in the society around them. If there is a gap between the new leaders’ past interactions and the reality of internal culture or processes, the leadership change can be complicated by additional obstacles.

Here are six ways to build an inclusive environment for leaders:

Clearly articulate the institution’s philosophy:

Ensure that the institution understands what diversity, equality, and inclusion mean to the constituents of the campus and how these significant words contribute to the institution’s overall mission. The campus culture must live up to this concept and be represented in all areas of activity.

Build a diverse transition committee:

As with a search committee, through a more balanced and broadly-informed onboarding process, a diverse transition committee will direct a new leader and assist new leadership to adapt rapidly to campus culture, nuances and traditions. Consider inviting other pioneers to talk to the committee members to help shed light on the problems and opportunities faced by a historically underrepresented leader.

Involve the Community:

A reliable support system is crucial for retaining new workers generally, particularly for new leaders from underserved communities who may have specific challenges. Encourage those already on campus and in the community to build an open dialogue and host the new appointee’s welcoming events. Even in these periods where in-person meetings are difficult, if not impossible, networking activities, happy hours, or brown-bag lunches can be a starting point for creating this support group remotely or in a socially-distant setting.

Create a Welcoming Atmosphere:

Creating a genuinely welcoming atmosphere requires re-examining campus policies and practices, from marketing materials, buildings and grounds, and benefits for staff to the course curriculum and dining hall offerings. When walking around campus, it’s essential for new leaders to feel motivated and have a sense of belonging, not feel isolated or excluded from the group they now serve.

Hire an Executive Coach to Walk Alongside the Budding Leaders

Executive coaching is a beneficial investment in both the organization and the new leader’s vitality and well-being. Executive coaches may serve as trusted confidants and companions, especially in leaders who are pioneers on their campuses, who help leaders openly discuss their unique concerns and challenges.