Case Study: Prioritizing DEI in Alumni Engagement at Gonzaga University
Overview: Gonzaga University (GU) recognized the importance of prioritizing and integrating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives throughout its alumni relations and experiences. This case study explores how The Inclusion Firm partnered with GU to address the aspirations of its Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) alums, evaluated its engagement efforts, and implemented improvements within its alumni association.
1. Establishing an Affinity Group for BIPOC Alums
2. Assessing Diversity Engagement Efforts Within the Alumni Association
Discovery: Upon assessment, GU's alumni programs revealed both strengths and areas requiring improvement. The Advancement team swiftly integrated strategies into their alumni engagement program, fostering an environment where participants, including alumni and volunteer leadership, felt comfortable sharing their sentiments.
Key Areas Addressed:
1. Marketing + Communications:
- Evaluation of social media practices.
- Mitigation of issues related to inclusive messaging and authentic storytelling.
2. Impact of the Student Experience on Alumni Experience:
- Exploration of BIPOC Alumni Engagement experiences, including tokenism.
- Addressing the sense of belonging among alumni.
- Aligning future gifts with alumni experiences.
- Building bridges and repairing relationships within the alumni community.
3. Alumni Association’s DEI Climate + Volunteer Boards:
- Reconnection with the current student experience.
- Implementation of DEI education initiatives.
- Establishment of clear DEI goals and objectives.
- Recruitment strategies for a more diverse and engaged board.
Positive Outcomes: Participants expressed gratitude for the opportunity to share their thoughts with a trusted institutional partner such as The Inclusion Firm. The process provided psychological safety and understanding, creating an environment conducive to open dialogue about their alma mater.
Conclusion: The alumni engagement program serves as a dynamic platform for informed decision-making, effective resource allocation, and sustained improvement in DEI initiatives. This case study underscores the importance of regular program assessments for organizations. By addressing specific areas related to DEI within alumni engagement, GU not only enhanced its initiatives but also fostered a culture of inclusivity, responsiveness, and continuous improvement. The selected assessment strategies were tailored to the unique goals and context of GU's alumni engagement program, highlighting the importance of a thoughtful and context-specific approach to program evaluation.