Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 66.71
Liaison Greg Kozak
Submission Date March 6, 2020

STARS v2.2

Northwestern University
PA-6: Assessing Diversity and Equity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Sarah Tulga
Sustainability Program Coordinator
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Has the institution engaged in a structured assessment process during the previous three years to improve diversity, equity and inclusion on campus?:

A brief description of the assessment process and the framework, scorecard(s) and/or tool(s) used:

Northwestern University uses a multi prong approach to assess diversity and equity amongst its students, staff, faculty, and campus climate. This large, coordinated effort involves many campus partners, units and departments and spans a variety of studies, surveys and tools. The Office of Institutional Diversity & Inclusion coordinates and leads the institution strategic planning for improving and advancing diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. Human Resources is another crucial department which plays a role in assessing, improving the diversity, equity and inclusion for employees. These departments have partnered with outside firms and internal departments to assess and evaluate diversity, equity and inclusion across campus.

Student Climate Survey for Diversity 2018:
In Winter Quarter 2018, the University administered a Climate Survey for Diversity. The survey was sent to all currently-enrolled undergraduate and graduate students within The Graduate School and the School of Professional Studies. The climate study aimed to provide a benchmark for the various ongoing initiatives focused on students’ experiences on campus. Planned and subsequent climate surveys for diversity will assess the effectiveness of student-facing program and policy improvements.

Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Planning:
In 2015 the University instituted its inaugural university-wide Chief Diversity Officer and the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion (OIDI). The vision of this office is to help realize an ideal Northwestern University where community members are challenged to engage differences as strengths in an environment that ensures equality of access, opportunity, representation, and participation. The OIDI is making strides toward their vision through their mission of helping create and sustain a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming environment for all Northwestern community members including students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

In the Spring of 2018, the OIDI decided to review the progress of the University’s overall D&I vision and mission. Northwestern partnered with Korn Ferry to do an analysis of D&I effectiveness. The scope of this study was an in-depth analysis of dimensions of diversity that are contained in the data available in the Northwestern HRIS that was provided to Korn Ferry (race/ethnicity and gender). In addition to a number of surveys conducted by various parts of the University, qualitative data was also gathered through 21 focus groups conducted by Korn Ferry. Korn Ferry used metrics related to staff, faculty, and student recruitments and retention. It used multiple sets of quantitative data, 21 qualitative focus groups based on an array of demographics, and 20 interviews with campus leaders. This information was then aggregated to provide a high-level overview of the role of diversity and inclusion across campus.

To see more about the planning and assessment process, see here:

Staff Engagement Survey:
In 2017, the University conducted a Staff Engagement Survey. Questions relating to diversity, equity and inclusion were an important part of the Staff Engagement Survey. The survey included demographic questions and the results were examined by demographic group.

Examples of questions included are as follows:
• Northwestern is committed to hiring and retaining diverse staff
• Northwestern has a work environment that is open and accepts individual differences (e.g., age, gender identity and expression, sex, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, language, religion, veteran status, and ability)
• If I have an issue with being treated unfairly in the workplace, I am confident that Northwestern will take appropriate action
• I am treated like a valued member of this institution
• I can try new things even if these lead to occasional mistakes

The responses to each of these questions was examined by age, and self-identification of race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender. Results were shared with various councils such as the University Diversity Council. The leadership team from each school and unit was also briefed on their results and the University’s results. A work group was formed to probe more deeply into causes and potential actions. They conducted interviews and focus groups, as well as researched best practices. The recommendations from this process were adopted by University leadership.

Does the assessment process address campus climate by engaging stakeholders to assess the attitudes, perceptions and behaviors of employees and students, including the experiences of underrepresented groups?:

Does the assessment process address student outcomes related to diversity, equity and success?:

Does the assessment process address employee outcomes related to diversity and equity?:

A brief description of the most recent assessment findings and how the results are used in shaping policy, programs, and initiatives:

Student Climate Survey for Diversity 2018:
The following summary of results is taken from the executive summary of this survey, which is published online for the public:
“The climate survey team reviewed these 2018 survey data from a number of different angles: specifically, results were anchored on the two main outcome variables of the Skyfactor survey: satisfaction and environment for learning. In analyzing the results, three different themes emerged. First, questions related to bias incidents generated the most notable results. A striking number of students, 33% overall, had either witnessed or experienced a bias incident or microaggression on campus. This is concerning and must lead to actions to reduce the incidents that occur. Even more alarming was that only 14% of this population reported the event to a university authority. The data generated from this survey can be used to better understand why those students did not report the incidents. Additionally, future surveys will seek additional information from students as to why they choose not to report these incidents.

The second emerging theme the analysis reveals is that females, gender-queer, and lesbian, gay and bisexual students have lower scores for satisfaction and satisfaction predictors when compared to white, male, heterosexuals. Future action steps should be focused on identities that predict variance in satisfaction and the environment for learning. These actions could inform already-existing initiatives designed to enhance the undergraduate and graduate student experience, e.g., Black Student Experience Task Force Report Recommendations; Gender-Queer, Non-Binary, Transgender Support Task Force; Undergraduate Student Lifecycle; Veterans Support Initiative; and Institution-wide Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan.

Third, the interactions with faculty and staff were a source of more than half of the bias incidents. Students’ ratings of their perceptions of faculty and staff are below the established benchmark[1] in areas of faculty concern for their welfare, value of different perspectives in the classroom, and ability to turn controversial topics into constructive discussions in the classroom. Some of this information informs efforts to advise faculty and staff development and training initiatives.”

Due to this survey, the following action items and programs were recommended and have been implemented by the institution:
• Promote access and utilization of existing resources for undergraduate and graduate students to report and address bias, Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT)
• Inform existing initiatives designed to enhance the undergraduate experience
• Black Student Experience Task Force Report Recommendations
• Gender-Queer, Non-Binary, Transgender Support Task Force
• Institution-wide Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan
• Undergraduate Student Lifecycle
• Veterans Support Initiative
• Advice faculty and staff development and training initiatives

See full details here:

Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Planning:
Since this strategic planning process is still ongoing, results from the study are not in a digestible or final form for campus-wide sharing. However, Korn Ferry did provide a final report with recommendations that the University is considering to help support the success of members of underrepresented groups. The institution is now moving into the second phase of strategic planning and the results from this survey will now impact the next stages of University level action. The Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion will work with senior administration to determine which recommendations will be adopted, explored for implementation, resourced appropriately and executed in partnership with colleges/schools and units. All of this information will be shared publicly with the University community and key constituents.
The next steps involve stakeholder engagement, identifying and forming work group members, exploring the recommendations, establishing actions and exploring implementations. Then the institution will execute on recommendations and communicate progress and results. As a way of continually updating the campus community and stakeholders about the current initiatives, progress, and diversity and inclusion efforts. The Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion publishes annual reports which highlights the continuous progress made across access, equity, enrichment, and wellbeing. It also includes updates and metrics on demographic information and key indicators of the University’s progress towards its goals on D&I.


Staff Engagement Survey:
Northwestern conducted a staff engagement survey and results were shared with key institutional leaders and all faculty and staff. The survey results informed a set of actions which are currently being implemented. Key actions and highlights:
Provide tools and resources to managers that enable greater equity and transparency in hiring.
• Establish and promote staff hiring practices for diversity and excellence
Deliver a Northwestern-wide diversity & inclusion online learning module, building awareness and knowledge as part of a holistic training strategy.
• Comprehensive DEI curriculum developed in partnership with the community through a DEI Education Advisory Group.
• Curated online DEI videos, readings, research supporting self-paced learning.
• Developed and successfully piloted two new DEI workshops to deploy in FY20.
• Online education module for all faculty and staff planned for FY20.
• Conduct 2nd cohort of Women’s Emerging Leadership Development Program.
Engage Northwestern community in revising and promoting University policy on civility and mutual respect.
• Working group convened and drafted policy for review by the Policy Review Committee and other key stakeholders.
• Will be a public comment period, with the goal that the policy will be finalized in FY20.
Create a Staff Diversity, Equity & Inclusion council to set ongoing goals and actions.
• Determine composition and launch DEI Staff Advisory Group.

Are the results of the most recent structured diversity and equity assessment shared with the campus community?:

A brief description of how the assessment results are shared with the campus community:

Student Climate Survey for Diversity 2018:
This was shared with the entire campus community and online through the website. Members of the Northwestern community can access these reports and tableau view of the data. An active NetID and password is required.

Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Planning:
The Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion publishes annual reports on the progress of Northwestern’s numerous initiatives to increase the diversity of our community and efforts to ensure an inclusive and welcoming environment. These reports aim to update the public and campus community around the University’s progress on Access, Equity, Enrichment, and Wellbeing. Updates are shared via email to the campus community and these reports in full are published open access on Northwestern’s diversity website.

Staff Engagement Survey:
Results of this survey were communicated to all faculty and staff by University leadership. Further, a website was created that first featured survey results, and later featured action planning and progress. Each school and unit also communicated their results in various ways. Many hosted town hall meetings. Others cascaded results through their leadership hierarchies. Most recently, the Provost and Senior Vice President sent an email to all faculty and staff with a progress update.

Are the results (or a summary of the results) of the most recent structured diversity and equity assessment publicly posted?:

The diversity and equity assessment report or summary (upload):

Website URL where the diversity and equity assessment report or summary is publicly posted:
Website URL where information about the institution’s diversity and equity assessment efforts is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.