by Victoria Jones, DM

Diversity Officer Vice President
Apollo Group, Inc.

The Problem
Educating a workforce on principles related to diversity and inclusion when there are limited training resources available.

The Solution
Diversity and inclusion represents a competitive advantage for apollo group. It reflects the essence of our innovation, creativity, skills, and capabilities because it is embodied in our students, staff, and faculty. Diversity and inclusion awareness is a key component in developing the best work environments in any industry. It all starts by creating— and then maintaining—a workplace environment that fosters fairness and mutual respect, and one that encourages diversity. When I was asked to successfully educate the entire Apollo Group workforce of more than 60,000 on principles related to diversity and inclusion, I determined that a “leaders teach” approach would be our solution.

What is a Leaders Teach Approach? How Does it Work?
A leaders teach approach is founded on teaching by facilitators, or “coaches,” who are leaders within the company and have been educated on diversity and inclusion principles. We have been using this approach successfully for the past three years and have trained over 27% of staff. Just recently, we engaged in a full day “Coaches Conference” where we collaborated with senior vice presidents and campus directors to discuss best practices in diversity and inclusion. It went very well and we had over 65 leaders participate. These coaches will now be able to engage others in our workforce and bring awareness to diversity and inclusion.

Why it Works
A leaders teach approach allows for powerful three-way learning:

  1. The facilitator learns;
  2. The facilitator delivers; and
  3. The facilitator learns from participants and increases his or her own knowledge.

The success of our solution is also recognized and valued by our senior leadership. The work at apollo group is driven by the Four Pillars of Values, founded by our Chief Executive Officers, Chas Edelstein and greg Cappelli, with diversity positioned as a vital factor in the Job of Choice pillar. In addition, Fred newton, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, includes diversity as a key component of his center of excellence function in the Hr organization. The focus and investment on diversity by senior leadership has significantly helped us in bringing awareness to diversity and inclusion principles within our company.

Fundamentally, I don’t feel that any company-wide initiative is going to be successful without the buy-in of leadership. Having our leaders invested in the learning and dispersion of diversity and inclusion principles helps broaden organizational knowledge and we are proud to be a leading example of its success.

Apollo Group, Inc. and its main subsidiary companies (University of Phoenix, Inc.; Institute for Professional Development, Inc.; Western International University, Inc.; College for Financial Planning; Insight Schools, Inc.; Aptimus, Inc.; Meritus University, Inc.; and Apollo Global) are engaged in the business of operating and managing institutions of higher education programs for working adults.