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How Carleton College’s CTO increased staff diversity in IT

Insights from a conversation with Janet Scannell, CTO at Carleton College

December 14, 2022, By Ann Forman Lippens, Managing Director, Research

One of Carleton College’s five pledges in its Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity plan is to increase representation of Black, Latine, Indigenous, and other underrepresented groups in staff roles—a commitment their Chief Technology Officer Janet Scannell has taken concrete steps to deliver.

Janet sat down with EAB’s IT Strategy Advisory Services to share her strategies for diversifying the IT workforce. These strategies helped IT backfill half of FY22’s eight vacancies with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) candidates. (Carleton College’s IT department has 40 FTEs.) Read on to see three strategies that have made Carleton successful.

1. Ensure position descriptions reflect mission-based work (in addition to technical responsibilities)

It is well-documented that job descriptions in predominantly male industries (including IT) tend to include male-coded terminology. To correct for this, Janet updated job postings to reflect the mission of the institution and the impact each role will have. For instance, a recent posting for a director of academic technology included these details:

  • In 1992, Carleton created a Learning & Teaching Center to “sponsor conversations, encourage reflection, and offer a venue for classroom innovation that bears on the challenges and opportunities of education at a distinctive liberal arts college.”
  • The director will provide supervision and mentorship for the academic technology team and partnership with others in information technology services as we support faculty members in their ability to leverage technologies and their experience of the Carleton classroom environment.

The responsibilities communicate not only the work to be done, but the purpose behind that work. This helps potential applicants understand the values Carleton holds, including collaboration, collegiality, and communication. It also helps humanize the role. The excerpts below—one from before Janet introduced the changes and one after—illustrate how these changes communicate the more emotional aspects of the role.

Before: Sample responsibilities for director of information technology services (ITS)

  • Serve on the IT leadership team and assist with the department’s planning and direction.
  • Familiarize the team with the departmental strategic plan, goals, objectives, assignments, and actionable events including deadlines and timeframes as well as the distribution of work.
  • Facilitate the work of the team.
  • Provide the ITS leadership group with status reports of team activities.
  • Keep the ITS directors informed of accomplishments, issues, status, and problems.

After: Sample responsibilities for director of academic technology

  • Work closely with the CTO, ITS leadership team, the academic technology team and a wide range of campus partners to understand Carleton’s academic goals and develop operational and strategic directions in support of those goals.
  • Champion the evaluation of academic-related software and services, including vendor evaluations, pilot projects, and implementation assessment efforts. Involve other ITS colleagues and campus partners where relevant.
  • Manage support for longer-term faculty initiatives while also providing exceptional client service for immediate and ongoing needs.

Another change Janet made in the position descriptions was to interrogate minimum qualifications vs. preferred experience. This might look like reducing the number of years of experience in a given field or culling down the required technical skills to eliminate those that can be learned on the job.

Higher Ed Job Description Checklist

2. Post open positions to job boards for BIPOC populations

The second strategy is to cross-post open positions to as many job boards as possible, including:

While Janet did not report that those job boards necessarily sourced candidates, she believes that continuing to post on these boards will help them grow.

Three Steps to Mitigate Biases in the Interview Process

3. Seek to include multiple applicants from underrepresented groups in candidate pools

The final strategy Janet deploys is working to source more than one candidate from underrepresented populations in the applicant pool. Research shows that having more than one person of color or woman increases the likelihood that they will be hired (79 times greater if there are at least two women and 193 times greater if there are at least two people of color). This is largely attributed to the mentality of the interviewer. Having more than one person of color helps minimize unconscious bias and increases the likelihood that a diverse candidate will be hired.

Three Strategies to Retain a Diverse Workforce


"Standing alone makes [the persons of color or women] stand out as different, tripping the unconscious bias most of us have in our human tribe mentality."


Lydia Dishman

Fast Company
Ann Forman Lippens

Ann Forman Lippens

Managing Director, Research

Read Bio

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