Diversity and Inclusion: Embrace a Rockstar Attitude to Lead Change
Did you know that when asked what is the most important value for a university to uphold, students say diversity and inclusion right after academic excellence?
Diversity and inclusion are defining parts of our university’s respective brands, and succeeding in it is not reaching a certain percentage of students from various backgrounds. It’s about building a safe and welcoming place for everyone from day one.
More than that, diversity and inclusion are values that create value! It’s vital to get it right. So how can we make the first days and weeks students spend on campus inclusive, supportive, and equitable? If you tuned in to the Salesforce for Education Dreamforce keynote on Salesforce+, you know that it has never been easier to build meaningful connections and deliver inclusive student experiences! Dare I say, experiences that rock?
Speaking of which, here are three rockstar attitudes that you can embrace to encourage change, champion diversity, and promote inclusion in your institution:
1. Be Real and Authentic
Whether during fresher’s (or ‘welcome’) week, an applicant day, or even a higher education convention, ensuring students feel at home is vital. At the UEA, we increasingly strive to optimize engagements in real-time, integrate first-party and third-party data, offer mobile-first experiences and personalize communication on every channel. We strongly believe that artificial intelligence, automation, and analytics are non-negligible in fostering a student’s sense of belonging.
2. Be Meaningful and Memorable
Trust builds over time, step by step. Audiences can feel more engaged and in control if we can make our marketing and digital experiences meaningful, memorable, and manageable. Data helps us do it openly. At UEA, we use Salesforce as a single source of truth for all our interactions with newly enrolled students. This rich information helps us personalize every moment we have with students — from communications to support services. When you connect and harmonize data, you can deliver hyper-personalized experiences and build robust, lifelong engagement with every student. The platform promotes genuine change with diversity and inclusion as a north star.
3. Be an Ally and Agent of Change
Thinking like a rockstar means you may need to break some rules, and you may have to convince others to believe in you. It can be hard to keep the band together and work in a joined-up way. Culture, processes, and systems take time to evolve. We can make diversity and inclusion more tangible by creating forums at our institutions, giving voices a stage and a microphone, listening actively to students, and championing action.
Committing to Diversity
Great onboarding experiences ultimately make students feel welcomed, respected, supported, valued, safe, and empowered to be their best selves. Diversity is too important to ignore, so don’t be afraid to challenge convention — you can be an ally and make a genuine difference.
Aristotle once said, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” to me, it means that when we genuinely commit to diversity, we’re in the best position to thrive and be a place where everyone can be their best selves and achieve more.
I’d like to thank Charlene Katuwawala for providing insight, support and sharing her lived experience in the development of this blog.
For more on advancing diversity and inclusion in higher education, check out this year’s education summit
About the Author
Head of Digital & Marketing Automation at the University of East Anglia
Paul Napleton is the head of digital & marketing automation at the University of East Anglia in the U.K. He is responsible for digital marketing strategy, tools and platforms, website optimization and best practice. This includes maximizing CRM opportunities for dynamic, personalized touchpoints — building a 360-degree view of audiences by unleashing the power of data. Paul is relatively new to the higher education sector, having recently moved at the start of 2021. He has previously worked for several leading brands in financial services, digital, innovation, and content marketing positions. Connect with him on LinkedIn.
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