Strategic Diversity Leadership:
Activating Change and Transformation in Higher Education
Williams melds a deep understanding of diversity with a sophisticated understanding of the nuances of leadership and organizational change. He delivers a blueprint of approaches to activating diversity plans, creating meaningful chief diversity officer roles, fostering accountability, and avoiding the pitfalls of leading change efforts on college and university campuses. This is an important book, which harnesses research and theory to lead real-world change.
Strategic Diversity Leadership is helpful not only to chief diversity officers but perhaps, even more important, to educational leaders in general who are interested in building academic excellence and institutional competitiveness in a global marketplace. It provides a solid theoretical framework for understanding the issues, and serves as a helpful resource to leaders as they develop and execute strategic initiatives.
Damon is, without question, one of the world’s leading authorities on Chief Diversity Officers, strategic organizational change, and educational achievement. With every post he has held, Damon has been a scholar, leader and advocate for change, taking on incredible challenges in heading up new diversity divisions/initiatives and creating new synergies in the diversity and higher education arena. His scholarship on inclusive excellence, organizational change, and chief diversity officers has set the standard for institutions striving to become inclusive communities. Damon’s work has greatly impacted American higher education at home and has numerous applications abroad. As a CDO at a Canadian university, I see many applications for both his books, “The Chief Diversity Officer” and “Strategic Diversity Leadership” in my role to establish a diversity division. I highly recommend both books for anyone who is tasked with diversity and change management in higher education.
Williams has done a masterful job of integrating organizational planning savvy with both practitioner wisdom and scholarly research over four decades of campus diversity initiative. He keeps his eye firmly on the human side of diversity change and provides a wealth of practical guidance for leaders who see the need to move beyond episodic diversity interventions towards comprehensive institutional engagement and change. I warmly recommend this exceptionally useful book for any educational institution that already sees diversity as an educational value and now wants to reach toward the next and more challenging level of making excellence inclusive.
Strategic Diversity Leadership makes, the assumption that diversity is central to a successful country, but for diversity to succeed necessitates ‘strategy’ – it does not just organically happen. The book is a moral compass for how we are to proceed in the 21st century, necessitating that we take risks into uncharted territory. The text helps us prepare for the trip, offers a rationale for why the trip must be taken, provides a sense of what we are to accomplish on the trip, explains the benefits of undertaking the trip, and finally suggests initial paths that we might take. With Williams as our guide, the odds are pretty good we will get where he wants us to go. But first we need to read the book.
Dr. Williams is the consummate scholar-practitioner using evidence-based decision-making to guide his institutional practice. While at the UW, I had the privilege to serve on the Advisory Committee of one of his campus initiatives to close the academic achievement gap in targeted undergraduate courses. This initiative involves collaborative efforts from staff, faculty, and graduate students across multiple disciplines to tackle this long-standing academic disparity, using various research strategies from classroom-based interventions to small group projects that could address the challenge. Since 2012, inroads have been made in closing the achievement gap in several courses; this initiative is one example that demonstrates the evidence-based approach that Dr. Williams brings to his work. He is a boundary spanner bringing together leaders from multiple perspectives to build their collective capacity to affect change toward inclusive excellence in higher education. Noteworthy is Dr. Williams’ ability to conduct research and produce scholarship while being an institutional leader. He literally defined the role of Chief Diversity Officer at the UW as he exemplified the qualities of this position.
Strategic Diversity Leadership is a president’s ‘how to’ guide for making excellence inclusive in the academy in the 21st century. It is one of the most significant books ever published on diversity in the academy, and one that will remain pivotal reading for years to come.”