Equity Leadership Is Everyone’s Work, New ACE Paper Suggests
March 22, 2021

​​The work of improving equity outcomes of students of color is at its most effective when leadership teams across campus take collective responsibility in developing and moving the diversity, equity, and inclusion agenda forward, according to a new research paper authored by ACE and the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California.

The paper, “Shared Equity Leadership: Making Equity Everyone's Work,” was written by Adrianna Kezar, director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education; Elizabeth Holcombe, senior postdoctoral research associate, Pullias Center for Higher Education; Darsella Vigil, research fellow, ACE; and Jude Paul Matias Dizon, research assistant, Pullias Center for Higher Education.

The first of its kind, this study includes findings from interviews of more than 60 campus leaders at eight institutions who practice shared leadership around equity issues. The report and additional forthcoming papers from the study offer details on a new way of approaching leadership: the Shared Equity Leadership (SEL) model. SEL brings leaders closer to institutional transformation and encourages them to consider how this approach can sustain their institution’s important work on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

According to the report, at the heart of SEL is the notion of a personal journey toward critical consciousness, in which leaders develop or strengthen a commitment to equity through understanding their identity, personal experiences, or relationships and learning. Leaders' personal journeys help them develop the values necessary to share leadership across their teams for equity, as well as carry out the practices that enact this type of leadership. These set of values and practices are embodied and enacted by the collective leadership team, the authors write.

The authors offer several recommendations for implementing SEL, including creating spaces for administrators, faculty, and staff to grow in their personal journey; modeling the values and practices articulated in the shared equity leadership approach; honoring and making space for leaders to share their emotions and paying attention to who is bearing the burden of the emotional labor involved in the work; and incentivizing and rewarding this work through formally designating a portion of faculty or staff members’ time for equity work.

Several leaders interviewed for the study reported they have increased hiring faculty and staff of color and diversified their leadership cabinets, with more of these leaders participating in professional development, which is seen as central to closing institutional equity gaps.

Click here to read the full paper and to learn more about how you can engage in shared equity leadership, request an invitation for ACE’s Shared Equity Leadership Learning Circles, where participants will unpack key concepts in the report together, using components of SEL to better understand their respective institutional challenges in a series of four facilitated online discussions. Complete the form on this page to sign up.


Request an Invitation

In Shared Equity Leadership Learning Circles, a series of facilitated online discussions, participants will unpack key report concepts together, using shared equity leadership components to better understand their institutional challenges and their approach to DEI work. Complete the form to learn more about joining a circle.

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