Inside Iowa State
June 26, 1998
Diversity outreach program boosts job searches
by Anne Dolan
Edna Clinton believes that becoming the country's best land- grant university includes offering a workplace that moves beyond simply tolerating diversity.
"People of different ethnicities, with their own experiences and ways of thinking, bring a richness to their workplace. We need to create an environment where all of this richness is accepted and included," she said. "That's especially important in education, where we're about global vision, not tunnel vision."
In recognition of years of working for diversity in communities and balance in the workplace, both in Ames and at Iowa State, Clinton received a certificate of recognition last month from Gov. Terry Branstad during the state's 1998 Affirmative Action Awards ceremony at the capitol.
For the last year, Clinton has been building Iowa State's diversity employment outreach program, an effort within the Affirmative Action office aimed at helping search committees and hiring units recruit qualified applicants that are diverse. Part of her work is identifying publications and organizations that ISU groups should tap in their search process, and part is educating outside organizations about Iowa State as an employer, through tailored presentations and an ISU presence at career fairs.
This kind of outreach is not a new recruiting strategy, Clinton said, but the trend nationally to attack affirmative action, coupled with low unemployment rates, has made recruiting much more competitive.
"And if we're going to be the best, we need to do more than we've been doing in the past," she said.
Clinton is quick to draw the line between recruiting a diverse workforce and meeting quotas.
"It's not about hiring to make your numbers look good. It's hiring qualified people to enrich your workplace. It's good, sound business decision-making about creating an environment that reflects a global society," she said.
Clinton has completed an employment outreach handbook that is being printed this month and will be distributed to vice presidents, deans, directors and department officers. The handbook is a resource "to help departments do things consistently," she said.
It doesn't contain any policy and its use is not mandatory, though Clinton hopes search groups will use it -- and call on her. She has additional information to offer, depending on the position being filled.
The handbook outlines the steps in a job search and profiles professional associations and key publications that cater to women and minority applicants. There also are lists of electronic listservs and universities and colleges with predominately minority populations. And it includes a demographic breakout, by ethnicity, of the state and Story and Polk counties.
"I know people at Iowa State have used other resources and that's good. And I know some people have tried some of these strategies and seen no results. Keep trying. If you have to try 100 times, keep trying," Clinton said.
During her recognition at the statehouse last month, Clinton was praised not only for her efforts in the Affirmative Action office, but for her work on the Ames Human Relations Commission, the Ames branch of the NAACP, the Ames-ISU YWCA and two working committees of the Ames-ISU "Breaking Down the Barriers" task force.
Clinton was nominated for the award by her colleagues in Affirmative Action. The State Board of Regents Office forwarded her nomination to the State Affirmative Action Task Force.
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