Cultivating diversity pipelines is a widely recognized strategy for increasing diversity in a variety of multidisciplinary fields. In general, pipeline activities are meant to increase diversity in a workforce or educational setting through focusing on recruiting activities from diversity groups (Johnson, 2012).
The networks of UCEDDs and LENDs can make great impact in the disability field with pipeline activities focused on diversity and inclusion. Not only will a more diverse workforce lead to better innovation, it is also a critical component of being successful on a global scale (Rizy, et. al., 2012) and reducing disparities in care and services (Smith, et. al., 2009). When developing their programs and services, UCEDDs and LENDs must take a variety of cultural backgrounds and experiences into consideration in order to have a positive influence on the communities they serve (The Denver Foundation Inclusiveness Project, 2015). The impact will be visible in the workforce, and could even be overlaid to students. Cited benefits of pipeline activities in relationship to diversity recruitment include:
Identify underrepresented trainees, staff and faculty; provide mentorship and professional development with an eye toward hiring and/or promotion.
Develop an employment matching program to support hiring of graduating trainees within the network, especially for trainees of underrepresented backgrounds.
Partner with other federal agencies/administrations to collaborate on their minority pipeline initiatives, leaning on common goals to reduce disparities and increase resiliencies.
Create an undergraduate Disability Studies minor to help build minority student interest in pursuing graduate studies in UCEDD/LEND. Consider creating this minor in partnership with Minority Serving Institutions, and encourage fellow professors to promote it.
Develop clearinghouse of relevant pipeline programs UCEDDs and LENDs may partner with and promote.
Increase partnerships with professional organizations representing disability and/or health professionals from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds.
Engage high school, community college, Minority Serving Institutions, and other undergraduate student populations to build awareness and interest in careers and education in the disability field.
Provide technical assistance to support culturally diverse UCEDD/LEND junior faculty to increase grantwriting skills.
Increase and support trainee and pipeline programs at institutions that have a demonstrated record of training individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds and who are underrepresented in disability and/or health fields.
Apply for undergraduate/graduate minority pipeline grant opportunities with Minority Serving Institutions as appropriate.
Collect and share success stories and strategies from across the network related to pipeline development.
Create trainings for a career path for direct support professionals.
Develop a minority pipeline through private and public higher education and corporate partnerships and funding to bring minority students into disability field through UCEDD/LEND programs. Model after established STEM pipeline programs. Engage staff, faculty, and trainees across network who have implemented and/or participated in pipeline programs.
Seek out and partner with existing pipeline efforts within the University.
Establish partnerships with national organizations representing the direct support professional (DSP) community to develop a pipeline and career path for DSPs into disability careers and UCEDD/LEND programs.
Provide opportunity for all staff, faculty, trainees and volunteers to develop leadership skills.