Multi-year Project Helps Colleges Build a Culture of Shared Equity Leadership
December 18, 2023

​ACE and University of Southern California’s Pullias Center for Higher Education have developed a suite of research and resources, concluding with a convening, aimed at helping leaders across campuses address diversity and equity challenges—making equity everyone’s work.

This collective, inclusive approach to leadership known as shared equity leadership (SEL) is a process in which ownership of a campus’s equity goals are more collaborative rather than relegated or siloed in one office or leader’s portfolio.

Recognizing that research on the role of leadership in addressing these equity challenges has been insufficient, ACE and the Pullias Center produced six reports and a toolkit that helps describe the personal, collective, and institutional work needed to enact the SEL model and approach. Webinars and learning circles also contributed to building a community committed to equity work.

The reports in the On Shared Equity Leadership series are based on findings from a three-year multiple-case study of eight higher education institutions across the country. As part of the data collection efforts, researchers collected and reviewed thousands of pages of documents and interviewed over 100 leaders across the eight campuses.

On Shared Equity Leadership​​ Series

Shared Equity Leadership: Making Equity Everyone’s Work

This publication, the first in ACE’s On Shared Equity Leadership series, describes how inclusive and collaborative approaches to leadership are necessary to achieve equitable outcomes.

Organizing Shared Equity Leadership: Four Approaches to Structuring the Work

This report describes traditional higher education diversity leadership, explores shared leadership structures, and highlights four distinct SEL models observed during a multiple-case study.

Shared Equity Leadership Toolkit

The Shared Equity Leadership Toolkit helps leaders determine their strengths and weaknesses—and those of their team—in the values and practices necessary to effectively practice SEL.

Shared Responsibility Means Shared Accountability: Rethinking Accountability Within Shared Equity Leadership

This report describes ways that campuses implementing SEL are grappling with accountability when responsibility for diversity, equity, and inclusion work is broadly distributed.

Leading for Equity from Where You Are: How Leaders in Different Roles Engage in Shared Equity Leadership

This report describes the ways that leaders in different campus roles can contribute to SEL efforts, examined from both functional and positional perspectives.

Capacity Building for Shared Equity Leadership: Approaches and Considerations for the Work

This report explores distinct strategies to build capacity for SEL at the personal, collective, and organizational levels to collectively lead equity-minded change efforts.

Emotional Labor in Shared Equity Leadership Environments: Creating Emotionally Supportive Spaces

This last report in the series explores what emotional labor looks like when responsibility for DEI leadership is shared across multiple campus stakeholders, rather than siloed or isolated in a single person or office.

Shared Equity Leadership Conv​​ening

In an effort to put the research into practice, ACE, along with Higher Ed Insights, convened equity and leadership stakeholders, including SEL experts and non-SEL experts, to discuss fresh insights and tools aimed at advancing equity on their campuses. The goal was to develop six concepts for expanding the implementation and reach of the SEL model—these concepts included:

  • Comprehensive Roadmap/Toolkit for University Presidents: This concept includes developing and sharing a SEL presidential toolkit, which would allow presidents to address the needs of institutional equity leaders, particularly through a plan of action when navigating difficult environments.
  • Integrating SEL into Leadership Development: ACE could help improve existing leadership development pipelines by integrating SEL into their leadership development resources.
  • SEL Leadership Training for Senior Leaders: This idea proposes a SEL leadership training for senior leaders, which would encourage institutions to take responsibility for equity initiatives and alleviate the emotional burden for individuals or small departments.

ACE plans to continue working with institutions and other organizations to find ways to test and carry out some of the insightful concepts experts developed.

Visit ACE’s Shared Equity Leadership page and USC Pullias Center for Higher Education’s website to learn more and to keep up with future developments. The Sloan Foundation and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations each generously supported the multi-year SEL project.​