Creating Your School’s Diversity Statement

Creating Your School’s Diversity Statement
Creating Your School’s Diversity Statement

School Leadership//

October 4, 2020

As School Head, you know that supporting diversity, inclusion, and equity requires more than enrolling culturally diverse students.

With your Board, you may have considered multiple dimensions of building and sustaining an inclusive institutional culture for everyone. Your Board may have formally endorsed diversity-related initiatives through its most recent planning document.

To establish an institutional commitment to authenticity about diversity, be sure to clarify and formalize the school’s “case” by crafting a Diversity Statement. This statement complements your school mission statement, especially by providing language to describe the community that distinguishes your school and supports its educational purposes.

Four Benefits of Crafting a Statement on Diversity

  • Thoughtful discussion. Accomplishing this goal necessitates a thoughtful discussion of various dimensions of diversity and the importance of each to your school’s culture.
  • Guidance. Your Diversity Statement will guide constituent groups in their future conversations about your school’s culture. It will also provide an anchor for decision-making (for example, when the Board discusses financial aid or when the Development Office seeks to implement culturally sensitive fundraising practices).
  • Marketing. The Diversity Statement provides a referent for both external and internal marketing (especially in reinforcing the benefits your school's community provides for students).
  • Strengthening mission. Your documented diversity goals will complement and enrich your institutional mission statement.

Elements of a Statement

Your Diversity Statement will most likely not be the same as other schools, but should include similar concepts of your mission statement. Your Diversity Statement should be:

  • succinct (relatively few words—memorable, even quotable);
  • distinctive (separates your school community and its service of mission from other schools); and
  • authentic (genuinely reflects your community—for example, do not represent your school as “a rich tapestry of multicultural backgrounds” unless you are strong in that diversity component).

Keeping the statement concise can be a challenge. If you need to expand on specific points, consider creating a “Philosophy of Diversity” to supplement your statement.

Possible components for a Philosophy of Diversity include:

  • stating why diversity matters at your school based on your mission. The language may echo words from the school mission statement;
  • characterizing the cultural environment that welcomes and is informed by diversity; and
  • identifying the specific dimensions of human difference most explicitly recognized and valued (e.g., socioeconomic, racial/ethnic, religious). You are answering the question, “What, in particular, do we mean by ‘diversity’?”

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Drafting Your Statement

This process begins with the Board President forming and charging an ad hoc committee of Trustees to prepare a draft. This group can and should include a representative from the broader community, such as a leader of a local human services organization. This person’s expertise and perspective can benefit the process.

During group sessions, committee members should discuss how the school explicitly values and welcomes diversity across socioeconomic profiles, ethnicities, religions and faiths, sexual orientations, learning styles, and more.

Promoting Your Statement

As you develop your school’s Diversity Statement, let the school community know what is happening, why, and who is involved. Share the news with school faculty and staff first.

Then, a Head’s letter to parents and staff is an appropriate strategy. You should also include an article in the school newsletter and magazine to reach a broader constituency (e.g., alumni, past parents, and major donors).

Solicit feedback from key constituents before the committee completes the draft and submits it for the full Board’s approval.

Once it has been finalized, publicize the new statement in print and online. You also want to make it a permanent element in your admission and development materials and on the school website.

By creating a school Diversity Statement, you continue to create a culture of inclusivity. Keep these elements in mind as you work to create your school’s statement and share it with your community.

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