Human Resources |
Article by Cecily Garber
From the March/April 2021 Net Assets magazine
Since its founding 50 years ago, Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences has committed to supporting diversity. At the K-12 school in Santa Monica, California, 50% of the student body identifies as people of color, as do 38% of faculty. In recent years, Crossroads has prioritized increasing the number of people of color who sit on its senior leadership team, and in the past two years, the school conducted searches for three of these positions: associate head of school, director of finance and operations, and head of upper school. For each position, all of the finalists were people of color. As of July 1, 2021, when the new director of finance and operations steps in, four out of the nine members of this team will be people of color.
School staff looking to lead the independent school business office would likely benefit from NBOA’s Leadership Academy, Business Officers Institute or an online course from NBOA. For more information on any of these programs, visit nboa.org/learning.
“It’s undeniable that the diversity of our school community is one of our greatest strengths,” said Head of School Bob Riddle. “This is something that parents in the independent school market increasingly understand and look for. We know that all students benefit from a diverse learning community. Parents are seeking out schools that welcome and support families, teachers and staff from all backgrounds.” In fact, surveys from the Enrollment Management Association indicate the next generation of K-12 parents are carefully researching prospective schools and expressing their desire to see diversity within every facet of a school community, including its administration.
While obtaining high levels of racial and ethnic diversity within an independent school administration may be more difficult depending on the school’s location, Riddle recommends the following strategies to increase your chances of finding the right candidate:
“I became Crossroads’ head 12 years ago, and in every administrative search we have conducted since then, I have insisted that at least one of our finalists was a person of color. I kept the candidate pool open until that condition was met.”
Bob RiddleCrossroads School for Arts & Sciences
National education organizations can also play a significant role in helping independent schools diversify their administrations through programs that support a path to leadership for members of underrepresented communities. “We’re finally beginning to see the fruits of the work put in place more than a decade ago to support young leaders of color,” shared Riddle. “Thirteen years ago, I went through a new heads bootcamp run by NAIS. From what I remember, of the 60 participants, there were only roughly 12 women and three people of color. Thankfully, those numbers are changing.”
Due to the small number of senior leaders within any given school, it will likely take time to develop a more diverse senior leadership team; positions open up only so often. But when they do, make sure you are ready. Growing a more diverse leadership team takes commitment from the top, expanding your search criteria for candidates, picking the right search firm, and nurturing homegrown talent.
“Crossroads’ senior leadership team is responsible for making major decisions that impact every facet of school life,” said Riddle. “It’s crucial that those decision-makers reflect the diversity of our school, our city and our world.”
Download a PDF of this article.
Leads on the Business Leader (Jan/Feb 2021)
Supporting Our Youngest Business Office Professionals (Sep/Oct 2020)
Strategies: Training Ground (Jan/Feb 2018)
Recruiting and Retaining Diverse Faculty and Staff (Jan/Feb 2019)
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