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Why Improving Diversity Starts in the Classroom

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In the United States, a collective of nearly 3,000 colleges and universities train the best talent in the country. A small percentage of these institutions rank among the highest. Degrees from the highest-ranking universities typically give graduates carte blanche throughout their careers. This may lead some to question who receives such unbridled freedoms, such as admission to the nation’s Ivy League schools and access to countless career prospects. Logic would dictate that such opportunities abound for minorities, paralleling the country’s increasingly diverse cultural background.

In part, these top universities base admissions acceptance on scholastic aptitude tests (SATs). Many hopeful students view their SAT scores as the top factor for university admittance, incorrectly equating their score to their intelligence. Researchers have countered this belief by proving that students with lower SAT scores can, and do, compete with their higher scoring peers with equal success.

Educational Diversity in the United States

In 2014, the Posse Foundation conducted a study revealing that United States colleges and universities would have to admit 50,000 African-American and 58,000 Hispanic first-year students for cultural diversity in the academic setting to mirror that of the population. In America, 40-percent of all students in kindergarten through twelfth grades are minorities.

However, only 17-percent of teachers and principals and 11-percent of school board executives are people of color. Furthermore, minorities represent only 6-percent of academic professionals occupying school superintendent positions, the highest-ranking post in the school districts of each municipality. In sum, the report reveals that the ethnic composition of the country’s educational leaders sharply contrasts that of the K-12 school population.

Despite these statistics, cultural diversity is receiving a boost from the private sector. Business leaders recognize that a diverse workforce enhances organizational performance, offers a competitive advantage and improves profits. Organizational diversity also fosters innovation and improves overall market performance. A Center for Talent Innovation report supports these claims. Additionally, the report states that companies led by diverse leaders are twice as likely to report profitable risk-taking and considerably more likely to capture increased market share.

Adding Knowledge to the Equation

While corporate America also has a long way to go toward full cultural diversity, the academic system could benefit from partnering with forward-thinking private entities. This potential is bolstered by pledges made by large corporations, such as Deliotte U.S., PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Accenture, that promote cultural inclusiveness in their work settings. In fact, several elementary schools, colleges and universities have followed the lead of corporate America in this regard, and at other learning institutions, academic leaders are entering the inclusion conversation.

Forecasts from the last Census report in 2010 estimate that the workforce will consist of one in two minority employees by 2050 as the nation’s talent pool and population grow more diverse. This kind of diversity fosters competitiveness, creativity and innovation. Additionally, government entities such as the U.S. armed forces argue that cultural diversity is vital to uphold national security. As a result, corporate America is supporting diversity by advocating for continued inclusion policies for United States learning institutions.

Building a Diverse Workforce Starts on Campus

Increased campus diversity leads to positive academic and social outcomes. The resulting benefits may range from higher academic achievement among learners to better relations between citizens in the nation’s communities.

Cultural diversity advocates argue that academic institutions must continue the current policy of actively supporting minority recruitment to nurture inclusion and improve the quality of life for future generations. This is vitally important for ensuring that the diverse workforce of the future is highly qualified to continue driving commerce in the American economy.

The top universities in the United States provide access to the most lucrative career opportunities in the nation. Cultural diversity advocates support the notion that students who are worthy of admission can show their talents in many ways.

For now, the system is bent toward students with select backgrounds. The ethnic composition of the graduating student bodies of the future will represent the viable talent that’s coming available to the workforce. This group will set the tone for how America’s future workplace will appear.

Current efforts to promote cultural diversity are not keeping up with the changing dynamic of the population. It’s fortunate that despite the beliefs of many hopeful college and university students that the admissions process is comprised of more than scoring high on the SAT. Admissions experts also consider what talent potential students can offer to the community. This kind of consideration is just as important as cultural diversity.


Bradley University online Master of Arts in Counseling

Center for American Progress


Huffington Post

Ohio University online Master of Public Administration

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