Campus, News

BU conducts diversity survey to seek input from staff

marsh plaza at boston university
Marsh Chapel. Boston University sent out a diversity survey to all staff members Monday, and responses will be used to inform future University policies. THALIA LAUZON/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Boston University began conducting a diversity, equity and inclusion survey for staff Monday that will shape future policies on campus.

The more than 6,000 BU staff will share their opinions about the stages of their employment — from applying to the job to leaving, which will take 15 to 20 minutes.

The anonymous survey will be administered by Korn Ferry, an organizational consulting firm, that will suggest ways to improve BU’s Human Resources policies. The firm will also run at least 25, one-hour Zoom focus groups to learn about the inclusion efforts in specific communities at BU.

The survey will close April 2. Korn Ferry will send BU’s administration a report of their findings and will release a summary report to staff.

BU Assistant Vice President of Public Relations and Social Media Rachel Lapal Cavallario said the survey was one component of greater inclusivity efforts at BU.

“It’s part of the overall focus and initiative on diversity, equity and inclusion,” she said.

Other parts of the initiative include the hiring of Crystal Williams, the first associate provost for diversity and inclusion, the launch of the Newbury Center for first-generation students as well as the commitment of $10 million to support diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Lapal Cavallario said the survey itself will serve as a jumping-off point for future policy changes based on the employee experience.

“The focus on staff and staff hiring and retention and promotion,” Lapal Cavallario said. “I think this is really to get a benchmark for where we are.”

Library circulation assistant Zoe Neubauer said they had already taken the survey and noted the “nonspecific” nature of the questions.

“I think it was mostly questions about diversity in general,” they said. “It wouldn’t really specify but it would be in the examples like ‘diversity, parentheses, race, gender, ethnicity, disability, et cetera,’ that sort of thing.”

Neubauer said the survey’s motivations were unclear.

“The charitable interpretation would be that BU wants to improve its diversity and is getting a benchmark,” Neubauer said. “The uncharitable interpretation would be that BU thinks it’s doing a great job with its diversity and wants people to tell it that.”

They added there is value in having diverse staff, particularly at a university.

“Sometimes people coming from one perspective have different answers and different ideas than people coming from another perspective,” Neubauer said, “and I think, especially in an institution of higher learning, more ideas and more standpoints are always good.”

College of Communication freshman Amber Green said the survey was a beneficial way of receiving input from the BU community.

“I think that’s super important,” she said, “because I think that when you run a university, you may not be in touch with the staff and even the students sometimes.”

She added it would allow BU to meet the needs of its employees, particularly those who did not have a privileged background.

“That’s important to maybe cater to some of the needs of the staff,” Green said, “especially people that are going to be not as wealthy as some of the people that may work here.”

Vanessa Bartlett contributed to the reporting of this article.

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this article a source was referred to by the incorrect pronouns. The article has been updated to reflect these changes.


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