Home Support system DEI administrators face five barriers to effective action in intercollegiate sports, research finds – VCU News

DEI administrators face five barriers to effective action in intercollegiate sports, research finds – VCU News


As sports organizations hire more staff to advance diversity, equity and inclusion, new research from Virginia Commonwealth University identifies five specific levels of barriers these employees will face.

Yannick Kluch, Ph.D., assistant professor and director of inclusive excellence at the VCU Center for Sport Leadership.

“DEI-specific staff positions are a fairly new phenomenon in sport, and this study is one of the first to examine the barriers these staff members face when trying to advance DEI in and beyond. of their athletic departments,” said Yannick KluchPh.D., Assistant Professor and Director of Inclusive Excellence at the VCU Center for Sports Leadership. “Knowing what the key barriers may be is crucial to setting these DEI professionals up for success and, therefore, empowering them to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in and through their work in the athletic department. .”

In “‘It’s like being on an island all by yourself’: Diversity, equity and inclusion administrators’ perceptions of barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion work in intercollegiate sport”, published in the Sports Management JournalKluch and his co-authors identified five key barriers that sports administrators face:

  • Structural barriers: Systemic barriers are deeply embedded in the institutional fabric of the university and the athletics department, making them arguably the most difficult to overcome. Example: Many administrators felt that athletics was isolated on campus, making cross-campus collaboration difficult. They also lacked resources such as funding and staff to conduct DEI.
  • Cultural barriers: Barriers refer to the culture created in the spaces in which DEI professionals operated and examined the extent to which this culture hindered participants’ efforts to conduct DEI action. Example: Trustees felt that a lack of buy-in from key stakeholders, such as management, was a huge impediment to DEI’s work.
  • Conceptual barriers: Barriers rooted in a lack of consistent DEI industry standards as well as the institutional and industry-wide history of DEI positions in athletics. Example: Because the field of employment is relatively new, administrators felt that a lack of DEI standards in the industry made their job more difficult.
  • Emotional barriers: Obstacles that negatively affected the mental and emotional well-being of participants and as such posed challenges to successful DEI work. Example: Administrators talked about being overworked because they couldn’t take time off from DEI work.
  • Social/relationship barriers: Barriers that compromised participants’ sense of social belonging and affected their ability to form relationships that could benefit their FDI-related work. Example: Because staff often felt tokenized—for example, as the only black person among senior staff—it was more difficult to develop meaningful relationships within the department and the campus community at wider.

“It’s important to understand that it’s all connected and one contributes to the other,” Kluch said. “For example, some of the DEI administrators felt burnt out – an emotional barrier – because they didn’t have extra staff working for them – a structural problem – and didn’t have the support system to keep doing their job. work – a social/relational barrier.”

Researchers collected data from interviews with 23 athletic administrators to identify barriers to efforts to conduct DEI action in the context of intercollegiate athletics, he said. While the findings have important implications for personnel with DEI responsibilities in college sport, the study can provide valuable insights to any organization invested in removing barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion. .