The founder of University of Phoenix had one goal: level the playing field for busy adults who still wanted a college degree. Today, the University is fighting to level the playing field across all ethnicities, cultures and backgrounds. Instead of simply talking about the need for change, the University has taken action toward a more just world. We’ll look at how leaders, staff members and students alike are being taught a more conscientious set of standards.
Listening to Each Other
In the fall of 2020, University of Phoenix and the National Diversity Council partnered together to create a webinar entitled “Essential Conversations in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion”. This seminar could have focused on promoting equality within the education sphere. However, the University wanted to look past their own industry and explore how these issues affect other areas like criminal justice and healthcare. Leaders from different sectors were called on to join the University’s program. By looking at the bigger picture, they sought to address how to make individual changes to correct the problem.
What Is a Needs Assessment?
A needs assessment may sound like just another empty term, but it’s a real test that an organization can take. Needs assessments help organizations identify where they are the most vulnerable and how those shortcomings can be addressed. These assessments indicate weaknesses within an institution and how those weaknesses affect the lives of different people. For instance, a board of directors staffed with all men may have a difficult time understanding the needs of half the people they make decisions for.
Instead of one comprehensive review per year, it might be better to have three or four shorter reviews. University of Phoenix adopted this system itself, and it has shown to be helpful in keeping connections with employees and fostering productive conversations. With remote work, losing the connection that forms from in-person interaction is easy. Frequent reviews allows more one-on-one time. Plus, there are fewer surprises for the employee. Staff will know exactly how they are doing and whether they are improving, without waiting an entire year for feedback. The employee also feels supported every step of the way.
University of Phoenix understood that a needs assessment is meant to be a springboard for action, and the University is not shying away from difficult conversations. If practices contributing to problems with equality are identified, the University’s leaders are ready to change those practices for a more equitable world. In addition to staff members in a single department working with one another, the University is promoting more cooperation across departments for a better chance of achieving a more well-rounded solution.
What Does It Mean to Change?
Real change starts with a clear plan filled with measurable steps. Making public statements promoting racial justice is very different from hiring three people with diverse backgrounds to sit on a corporate board of directors. University of Phoenix has watched the conversations play out and applauds those who recognize the problem. However, the time has come to do more for the solution. As the world moves forward, the goal is for University staff to keep their eyes, ears, and minds open. By building flexibility into the process, University of Phoenix can contribute more to the students who will eventually go on to lead our world.
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