As our team begins our planning for the next school year/offseason, we want to examine how we can build a team that is racially diverse. Our team grew a lot this year and we are pretty diverse gender/sexual orientation wise but to quote one of POC members “You can count the number of people of color on one hand” which is something we want to change.
Our current plans to recruit for Diversity includes having our team members who are part of a college preparatory program for Low-Income/POC students and our high school’s chapter of NSBE present to those programs.
It’s time for me to pose a few questions to the CD community:
How does your team recruit for diversity?
Does your team prioritize having underrepresented students in forward facing roles? (Drive Team, Impact Presenters, Pit Crew)
How does your team include/keep your underrepresented students without putting them in the diversity candidate/token minority position?
Definitely far better people than I to answer this out there. Putting on my human geography hat:
This is something that varies wildly from place to place, as you stated in your post, you want to avoid the “diversity hire” stigma. When there is a broad enough spread of population, as with Berkeley, this is easier said than done and a lot comes down to more of a people question vs a statistics one.
To answer the first question (kinda)
FRC teams are relatively small, only occasionally breaking 100 people. As such it is my opinion that the focus should be a human relation question rather than trying to hit some statistical diversity target (that’s a gross corporate sounding term, I hate it). You may have to re-shape where and how you do demonstrations and how the word is spread (sounds like you have a start on this with other groups, like the NSBE, but I would go further afield than just engineering related, there are lots of good, diverse community groups you may be able to demonstrate with).
Second and third:
Sustainably. You can’t build team culture in a season or two, it takes time. For everyone to be at the point where things are homogeneous with a diverse crowd of students, mentors, parents, and sponsors it will take time. I am not aware of any shortcuts here and if there are shortcuts they probably are not sustainable.
It looks like you’re a community or school district team. If I’m wrong about that several of my following points may not apply.
If youre a district or community team, youre going to get the students based on where you are. IE if youre on one end or the other from a set a students theyre less likely to be able to regularly make it to meetings and are more likely to not even try the team.
So based on the larger student body associated with the program, are you representative of that roughly? It probably wont even be a 1 for 1 with your available population, but its at least something to try for. Also consider financial diversity. You can have kids all from one school who are diverse in appearance, but have a similar background, vs kids of disparate financial background who’ve had different experiences.
Those are things just to consider.
Being a single school program in a city, we take anyone and everyone from the school. Having a diverse school, we have a more diverse team.
Consider how you’re recruiting. Are you showing up with white students to an ethnic club or program? Then it can look like youre trying too hard. Consider your message. Are you taking about the other roles and skills the program offers? Is your team all confident upperclassmen when you go out? They may be off putting to newer students. People recruiting friends seems to be a huge part of it from team to team when I’ve talked about recruiting with other teams.
Really there isnt a one size fits all solution and as I finish this i realize i dont know if more than a few words are going to be helpful to you. I hope they are.
You might want to consider starting on this with one or more mentors and then going from there. Even if the role is limited involvement (might be an easier sell for new mentors), this could help to guide your efforts. And, this might be a more tractable starting point, depending on the population from which you are drawing.