CUPA-HR’s Inclusion Cultivates Excellence Award

woman with tablet

Minneapolis College has received the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) 2020 Inclusion Cultivates Excellence Award for its competency-based hiring program. This award recognizes and celebrates institutional initiatives and programs that have made a significant impact with respect to inclusive and equitable workplace practices, particularly those that have brought about cultural change throughout the organization.

Thanks to the generous support of EyeMed, CUPA-HR is pleased to offer a $6,000 contribution to Minneapolis College’s endowment or a scholarship fund.

“Our college is excited to receive this award, particularly as it highlights the excellent work being done by our colleagues in Human Resources,” said President Sharon Pierce.

Moving to a Competency-based Model

Two of Minneapolis College’s strategic priorities for the 2018-20 fiscal years were to be a leader in equity and inclusion and to empower employees. In support of these strategic priorities, the human resources department piloted a 2-year program focusing on competency-based hiring for staff positions, led by Dianna Cusick, vice president for human resources and workforce equity. The program elevates candidates based on their abilities and competencies to perform the job functions as opposed to evaluating candidates based on their education completion and related job experience.

Their initial research in 2014 showed that capable, qualified and diverse candidates with desired experience and skills were being excluded from consideration based on the traditional evaluation model used at the time, based predominantly on education and experience in similar positions.

According to Cusick, “The competency-based model of hiring broke down structural barriers and disrupted the transfer of racial attainment gaps from the education setting to the workforce for staff positions.”

After 2 years, 55.7 percent of all new staff hires have been people of color, compared to 26 percent the year before implementation, moving the college from a total of 24.8 percent employees of color in 2015 to 30.2 percent in 2019. With 60 percent of the students at Minneapolis College being students of color, this program has helped make significant strides in aligning the workforce with the student population.

“We are proud of this program and excited about the results, but we also know this is just one strategy in our equity work. We are deeply committed to workforce equity and will continue exploring additional strategies and looking for ways to expand parts of this model to faculty hiring,” said Cusick.

Read more about the equity case for competency-based hiring.