Diversity Woman Magazine

FALL 2016

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

Issue link: https://diversitywoman.epubxp.com/i/730428

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Page 27 of 59

We Mean Business > 26 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N Fa l l 2 0 1 6 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m Myles unfortunately passed away and the board appointed a new president, Dr. Mark Emmert. He asked me to do a presentation to him on our issues and challenges in areas related to diversity. I saw that as an opportunity. We were focusing on diversity more from the rep- resentational perspective. Numbers are important and will always be important because that's what you can see. Howev- er, we weren't talking enough about the culture of the organization. We weren't talking about the climate in terms of how do we embrace that diversity, how do we celebrate that diversity? So I said to him, "I would like to change the discourse and focus our attention on inclusion as well as diversity." He loved the idea and said, "Bernard, I want you to be the new chief inclusion officer." No good deed goes un- punished in terms of an idea, and that's really how I came to this particular role. I saw it as an opportunity to make a dif- ference. DW: How do you change the culture or climate in a large institution like the NCAA? BF: First of all, you've got to assess your current culture. ere are instruments you can use to do that. Some of what you are assessing is quantitative and some is qualitative. Sometimes it's sitting down with various focus groups and asking, what is the workplace culture like for you? In that process you're going to be able to identify areas where you can im- prove. Once you identity those particu- lar areas, you need to develop initiatives and strategies to address them. After a period of time, you go back and you re- evaluate your culture to see if there has been improvement. In our case, we've My past [working] experiences could have been wonderful if someone had stopped and said, "You need to prepare the culture." seen tremendous change in terms of a culture based on the kinds of things that we've done here in the national office. DW: Can the changes be implemented from the national headquarters, or do you need a certain level of buy-in from the member institutions? BF: If we expect to see a change, we must engage presidents and chancellors because it starts at the top. Our approach has been to focus on getting presidential leadership of our member institutions to support our work and goals. Recently, our board of governors adopted a resolution to focus on improving our cultural diversity and gender equity. We formed an ad hoc com- mittee, and one of the first items they rec- ommended was that our school presidents and chancellors sign off on a pledge to pro- mote cultural diversity and gender equity. Just yesterday we sent out a draft of that pledge to all of our member institutions, all of our athletic directors, and all of our conference commissioners, soliciting feed- back before we make the final recommen- dation to the board of governors. DW: You are very passionate about diversity and inclusion. Where does your passion come from? BF: As an African American and an Afri- can American male, I've had a lot of op- portunities to be the "first" in my career. Some of those experiences were won- derful and some were extremely pain- ful. Based on those experiences, I know what it's like to go into a culture where your colleagues have never worked with someone who looks like you. at has taught me some valuable lessons. It's [shaped] how I think about institutions and organizations, and how I explore how they can move to more diverse rep- resentations. Over the years, we have learned that it's not just about hiring practice. It's preparing a culture. I guess that's where my passion comes from, because all my past experiences could have been wonderful if someone had stopped and said, "You need to prepare the culture." at just didn't happen. It was painful. DW: The NCAA recently launched a Gender-Equity Task Force. What do you expect to achieve? All these years after Title IX, why is it still a struggle to find inclusion and representation for female athletes? BF: Some 20 to 25 years ago, the NCAA looked at gender equity. at work pro- duced a report and a series of recom- mendations for action. We resurrected the Gender-Equity Task Force because we wanted to look back and see where we made progress and where we still needed to make progress. Part of the role of the task force has been assessment, looking at the numbers, because the numbers are important. While in many areas we've made some progress, there are many ar- eas where we still have to do more and can do more. at's a fundamental role for this task force. For example, we have identified as a focus area increasing the representation of women in head coach- ing positions, particularly of women's teams, because we've seen a significant drop in women coaches. We also want to increase the representation of women in leadership roles, such as athletic directors and conference commissioners. DW: Why has there been a drop in women coaches of women's sports? BF: I think, particularly in high-profile women's basketball programs, what hap- pened is that more men began entering the coaching profession as the salaries got more lucrative. erefore, there was a larger pool of male applicants, and more and more institutions hired male coaches, and the number of women's head coaches dropped. We need to change that. DW

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