Commons to share result of diversity assesment with faculty

Sammi Handler

President Rick Commons will share the findings of HR Matrix’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Climate Assessment with faculty Jan. 24, he said in an email to all faculty Jan. 4.
Commons did not want to share more about the findings ahead of the meeting.
“While it is never simple to bring our two campuses together in the midst of our myriad commitments, this topic is critical to our community and to our mission as a school, and I believe that being all together is important in this case,” Commons said in the email.
The administration made a joint decision to hire HR Matrix as a third party “facilitator” to evaluate the school’s socioeconomic, racial and gender diversity.
According to the group’s website, it “specializes in human resources consulting and organization development.”
The group was on campus three times during the fall to talk with students, faculty and parents about their identities and how the school is different from others regarding diversity, students said.
“I really enjoyed it because I got to see Harvard-Westlake from so many different perspectives,” said Sirus Wheaton ’19, who participated in one of the focus groups. “This helped me to enjoy the school more. We talked about many issues from little things like people asking to touch someone’s hair to really large issues like feeling excluded as a minority in the Harvard-Westlake community.”
In September, Commons told the Chronicle that he expects HR Matrix to tell the administration what they are doing wrong and that he is committed to fixing these issues.
“I hope that the school uses this information to foster more of an open dialogue between faculty and students about issues and experiences that students of color face that often go unrecognized,” Courtney Nunley ’17 said. “I also hope that it’s used to increase representation of all forms on campus from teachers to the books we read in English to the topics we cover in history classes.”
Wheaton added that HR Matrix asked his focus group about ideas for addressing the problems of inclusivity and diversity.
“I really hope the school will listen to some of the ideas we had because I think with a few changes Harvard-Westlake can truly become a diverse and inclusive community,” Wheaton said.
Some students hope that the school will implement actual changes.
“I hope that the administration will attempt to tackle actual instances of inequality on campus, instead of attempting to preach a broad message of ‘inclusion,’” Liz Yount ’17 said. “We’re past the point where everyone agrees that Harvard-Westlake should be diverse and inclusive on paper, now it’s time to actually make that a reality.”
Commons emphasized the importance of faculty attending this meeting.
“I also want to encourage employees who do not normally come to our faculty-staff meetings to attend this gathering,” he said in the email. “The DEI Climate Assesment pertains to all of us equally, and we will need to work together to meet the challenges and opportunities it reveals.”