Managing Diversity and Inclusion at Brown

Brown's Diversity Action Plan is predicated on the idea that academic excellence can only be achieved by fostering the greatest possible mix of ideas, opinions, and beliefs. Successful implementation of such a plan must be inclusive of staff, students, and faculty with diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. We also seek to provide policies and programs designed to maximize retention, foster, support, and demonstrate the importance of diversity and inclusion.

The managing Diversity and inclusion toolkit for managers has been created to outline a practical guide for managing diversity and inclusion at Brown, which makes good "people sense" and business sense." The toolkit provides guidelines for demonstrating an understanding of compliance, cultural awareness, respect for differences, coaching for positive change, and best practices for all.
Please click below for guidelines on the Managing Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit:

Guideline #1: Creating a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion, Diversity Recruiting Checklist and Strategies for Recruiting Diversified Candidates
Guideline #2: Strategies for Communicating Across Cultures
Guideline #3: Enhancing Respect
Guideline #4: Identifying Ways to Build An Inclusive Team
Guideline #5: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,Transgender Individuals
Guideline #6: Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities

Guideline #1: Creating a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion, Diversity Recruiting Checklist and Strategies for Recruiting Diversified Candidates

This toolkit for managers outlines a practical guide for managing diversity and inclusion at Brown.


  • To create a culture of diversity and inclusion by identifying opportunities in the workplace
  • To diversify recruiting by identifying specific responsibilities for managers
  • To follow best practices by demonstrating an understanding of compliance, cultural awareness, respect for differences, and coaching for positive change

A workplace that values diversity and inclusion is a place where all employees demonstrate, on a daily basis, their respect for each individual's unique attributes. It is a workplace that values diversity and inclusion requiring us to understand and respect the beliefs, values, and ethics of others while demonstrating our ability to effectively work with, communicate with, and service a diverse community of individuals. It is also essential that we interact and serve others with mutual respect while observing the highest standards of conduct. In sum, the workplace must be free from harassment, discrimination, and intolerance. This makes "people sense" and "business sense." When staff enjoy coming to work and feel good about our jobs, and believe that we are being treated fairly and with respect, we are more productive at work.


  • Recognize that creating a workplace culture of diversity and inclusion is an ongoing developmental process for individuals and organizations.
  • Commit to building awareness, knowledge and communication across cultures and teams.
  • Encourage others to be open, flexible, and receptive of differences.
  • Mentor
  • Assume that all people are individuals, who appreciate being treated with respect regardless of their specific ethnic, religion, gender, generational group or background.


  • Assume that only employees from traditionally oppressed groups benefit from a workplace culture of diversity and inclusion.  All of us (e.g., staff, faculty, students, and visitors) would benefit from understanding the diversity of those of us who make up the Brown community.
  • Forget about elements of diversity that cannot be overlooked. Sexual orientation, age, gender, regional differences, country of origin, and generation are also elements that impact communication and working styles for some of the different groups you come into contact with at your job.

How Do We Measure A Workplace Culture that Values Diversity and Inclusion?

  • Have a defined set of values and principles, demonstrated behaviors, structures, and strategies that enable all employees and supervisors to effectively work across cultures and differences.
  • Demonstrate an ability and commitment to (1) value diversity, (2) manage the dynamics of difference, (3) acquire an understanding of compliance and respect for diversity, and  (3) appreciate and adapt  to diversity and the cultural contexts of the communities you serve.

How Can We Understand Our Own Awareness of a Workplace of Diversity and Inclusion?

  • Increase self-awareness, identify biases and possible privileges that you may have, know your style preferences and develop an awareness of your cultural surroundings
  • Recognize the impact that each of your own identities has on your job role, communication style and perceptions
  • Develop your skills for communicating across cultures and identities

Checklist - Recruiting Strategies in Support of Workplace Diversity and Inclusion

  • Establish and maintain a recruitment file for each applicant pool with the online employment system.
  • Evaluate the job description (ensuring details of the position, job duties, competencies and required minimum qualifications.)
  • Incorporate department specific diversity and hiring goals into the recruitment and hiring plan. Identify resources, timeline, budget, and other recruitment sources, etc.
  • Establish diverse search committees and interview panels.
  • Provide search committees and interview panels with an understanding of the:
    • Organization's hiring goals and values for recruitment, as well as the
    • Education, experience, skills, competencies, strengths and desired professional traits of the ideal candidate.
  • Verify if underutilization exist and if so, include and source a diverse applicant pool
  • Provide guidance on managing underutilization to the search committee or panel.
  • Plan to "cast a wide net." Work with the Human Resources Generalist and Staff Diversity Director to discuss and implement recruitment advertising strategies.
Committee/Panel Process:
  • Develop job related, legal interview questions
  • Review applications and select interview candidates
  • Coordinate interview schedule
Prepare for interviews by:
  • Reviewing job descriptions, application, and references
  • Organizing interview area
  • Preparing for note taking
  • Minimizing interruptions
Selection and Conclusion
  • Conduct interviews with specific and consistent questions.
  • Prepare questions and conduct reference checks.
  • Contact references to schedule mutually convenient times for discussion.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Take clear and subjective notes.
Evaluate Candidates
  • Evaluate the credentials, skills, experience, and opportunities to select qualified diverse candidates, if possible.
  • Complete and submit hiring report to Human Resources.

Guideline #2: Strategies for Communicating Across Cultures

Communicating across cultures, also referred to as intercultural communication is a field of study that looks at how people from differing cultural backgrounds communicate, in both similar and different ways among themselves, and how they endeavor to communicate across cultures. There are several practices you can implement to increase the strategies for cross cultural communication in your department, such as:

  • Value diversity.
  • Communicate respect and show empathy.
  • Do not judge.
  • Recognize your own assumptions.
  • Demonstrate flexibility and tolerate ambiguity.
  • Be careful with humor; it may be misunderstood.

Some tips for additional practices include:

  • Provide an open and safe environment: Be aware of situations and settings that are uncomfortable. Reduce power dynamics.
  • Focus on understanding: Be nonjudgmental and check tone, style, and delivery of voice.
  • Explore the possibility that what is presented may not be the main issue: Listen to others and give them time to tell their story in their own way and words; Trust must develop before others share their vulnerability; Trust is earned and developed over time; Identify root or underlying issues, which may prevent you from developing a relationship.
  • Acknowledge differences and different experiences: Avoid saying "I know how you feel" as it is always untrue; Most cultural minorities are more skilled in coping in the majority culture than members of the majority culture. Most majority cultures are less skilled in coping within a minorities' culture.
  • Be aware of differences in nonverbal communication patterns: Eye contact and facial expressions.
  • Treat all people with dignity and respect regardless of diversity issues: Keep an open mind; Keep it simple; speak to the person in polite manner; Avoid making judgments and assumptions; Avoid ethnic, racial and gender jokes.
  • Respect all people as adults who have the right to make decisions freely: Avoid dictating and giving orders; Avoid giving commands.

Guideline#3: Enhancing Respect

Enhancing respect in your work areas is one way of supporting employees to feel valued. Respect can be demonstrated through our choices, delegation, behaviors, verbal and non-verbal communication. There are several practices you can implement to increase awareness and sense of respect in your work area.


  • Make your expectations clear to employees regarding verbal and non-verbal communication (e.g., no eye rolling at meetings, etc.)
  • Schedule at least one staff meeting a year to discuss the work environment, discuss feelings of respect, and solicit feedback from employees about ways to improve the environment.
  • Identify best practices for all to follow.
  • Provide consistent feedback to employees who need further mentoring and support on improving their behavior.
  • Reward respectful behavior when you see it.
  • Manage conflicts and disagreements with respect in a timely and confidential manner.


  • Assume that all employees have the same definition of respect as each other or as you.
  • Avoid conversations about disrespectful behavior in the hope of stopping the behavior all by itself.
  • Rely on someone else, if you are an area manager, to provide vision and tools for respect in your department. This is part of your responsibility as a manager.

What are some specific behaviors that can convey respect?

Although each situation is unique and not everyone may agree, some behaviors that we have found to convey respect at Brown University are:

  • Communication that is open and transparent.
  • Decision making that is transparent and inclusive.
  • Information being shared in a timely and consistent way.
  • Disagreeing without losing one's temper or otherwise conveying disrespect.
  • Greeting employees and acknowledging colleagues verbally and non-verbally.
  • Respecting people's time by arriving at meetings and end meetings promptly.
  • Being open to criticism and feedback.
  • Providing critical feedback in a manner, which is caring and respectful to the specific individuals.
  • Taking responsibility for the impact of one's actions.

What are some suggestions for coaching and providing feedback about disrespectful behavior?

  • Choose an appropriate time and private place to offer the feedback. It is best not to let too much time pass, and also to be calm and not reacting to your own emotions.
  • Ask the person how they saw their behavior impacting the situation or the other person involved?
  • Listen to their own self evaluation and provide feedback that encourages self-reflection.
    • Examine the long term impact this behavior has on the team, on the job tasks, and on their relationships with other colleagues, clients, and customers.
    • Engage the person displaying the disrespectful behavior. Have the person identify a solution for improvement.

Guideline #4: Identifying Ways to Build An Inclusive Team

Inclusive teams are characterized by open communication, transparent decision making, and creativity. The purpose of building an inclusive team is to create a productive work climate of trust and respect. Brown University is a diverse community. We have members of our community that represent multiple and different identities. Our differences and similarities are based on age, culture, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, or opinion, which requires us to practice developing an inclusive team.


  • Develop a brief statement or practice about how you will work with your team.
  • Link inclusion to specific behavioral expectations that are likely to generate trust, openness, and inclusion.

Example: Some of the behaviors that demonstrate inclusion are communicating information consistently, being open to feedback rather than being defensive, respecting colleagues regardless of different styles or beliefs, and offering criticism in a constructive manner.

  • Communicate regularly to your staff as to why an inclusive culture is important: enhance productivity, improve communication, boost problem solving, and foster retention.

Example: There are several ways to remind your team that inclusion is an important value in your department: one sentence that states departmental values and vision in quarterly staff meetings (e.g., devoted to work) or all new hire letters.

  • Build a more inclusive team: identify culture topics such as teamwork, communication, and inclusion, and set a professional development goal for each member of your related to at least one aspect of communication and inclusion.
  • Mentor supervisors in a way that creates model behaviors that you would like to see from them.


  • Rely on the same people for advice all of the time.

Example: Who you turn to for advice and buy in should be as varied as your stakeholders and customers. If you find yourself with a homogenous group of advisors, who never push back or point out challenges, your advisor group is not sufficiently inclusive. Seek out the perspectives of colleagues and customers who have different backgrounds and expectations. Teamwork and projects generally benefit from having such diverse feedback.

  • Use all of your staff meeting time as an "information dump." Facilitate staff meetings that invite participation, explore ideas, and model dialogue.
  • Allow exclusionary or intolerant behavior to go unaddressed. Respond efficiently and with respect to behaviors that mock, shame, insult or injure staff.

Guideline #5: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,Transgender, Queer Individuals

Brown University welcomes gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) staff, students, and faculty. The purpose of educating ourselves about LGBTQ concerns is to maintain a harassment and prejudice free workplace, and continue to build a supportive climate for heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and queer employees.


  • Be responsible for openly communicating that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer employees are welcome in your department and that you expect fair and respectful treatment of all employees, students, and visitors.
  • Be sure that your department offers LGBTQ inclusive services and programs (e.g., sensitivity given to invitations for staff at celebrations.)

Example: Suppose there is a planned holiday party in your department and the invitations are sent to all employees requesting an RSVP. The invitations specifically invite the employee and his or her spouse. A workplace that supports diversity and inclusion would send invitations that invite employees and their significant others.

  • Respond to inappropriate jokes or comments immediately. Silence sends a message of agreement.


  • Ignore inappropriate language or humorous discussions around LGBTQ issues.
  • Make generalizations about any group or identity.
  • Do not reveal a person's sexual orientation or transgender identity unless they have made their identities public.

Guideline #6: Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities

Disabled veterans make up a large part of the U.S. workforce. Of the 123 million employed Americans 18 years and older, 13 million, (10%) were veterans according to the 2003 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A significant number of these employed individuals, 941,000 (7%), reported having some form of disability. At Brown University, University Human Resources, University Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action, and the Office of Institutional Diversity work together to provide information for this special population as noted in Brown University's Affirmative Action Plan for Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities.