Dr. Sharron Credle: I'm Looking to do Transformative Work at Simmons
This is a conversation that needs to happen all the time — it’s not just a one-act pony. It is something that is embedded in everything that we do as an organization. We should be talking about DEI no matter what the subject, so it becomes our everyday language.
Dr. Sharron Credle, Vice President of Organizational Learning and Development, was named co-chair of the new President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. We spoke with Dr. Credle about the plans for the new council, the expertise she brings to this role, and her advice on what you can do to support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts.
What is your role at Simmons?
I’m the Vice President of Organizational Learning and Development, and I’m responsible for the design, development, deployment, and measurement of organizational development and learning opportunities across the University. I’ve also been given the responsibility to co-chair the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which means that I oversee the Office of Organizational Culture, Equity, and Inclusion (OCIE).
How long have you worked at Simmons?
I started working at Simmons on February 4, right before the pandemic hit. My husband and I thought this was an excellent opportunity because I believe that organizational leadership development is my life’s work and purpose. This role was the perfect fit for who I am personally and professionally, and I was so excited to have an opportunity to work at a women’s-centered institution.
What do you hope to achieve with this new presidential council?
The council’s collective responsibility is to implement and uphold any DEI initiatives. It’s going to be a part of our core values. One of our goals in OCIE is to become the most inclusive university in New England — so to do that, we have to uphold these DEI actions and initiatives.
I’m looking to do some transformative work at Simmons. What I mean is transforming this organization from the inside out — looking at our systems, processes, and how we approach our work on the inside and then build outward. The work of DEI has been around for a while and it takes momentum to get anything done — I think we have momentum with this council because it’s coming from the President’s office. I am genuinely excited to get the entire organization involved in this conversation and having action around DEI.
What do you personally bring to this effort?
I have a doctoral degree in Organizational Development and Human Resource Management. I actually come from the K-12 environment — I was a K-12 educator for a very long time and served in many roles. One of my main roles was the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the Director of HR Operations and Staffing. From there, I went to a community college where I was the Director of Organizational Development.
In addition to my work in DEI, my doctoral degree, and my professional experience, I’m also an African American woman, and I’ve been in predominantly white institutions all of my life. I understand the inner-workings of how these institutions were initially structured, so I’m able to have these conversations and approach this role with that lens.
What will be some of the priorities of the Council?
Our first priority is to appoint the council. The work cannot be done by a smaller group. We have to make sure we include every department that exists on campus. Then we plan to establish our subcommittees and bring those committees together to start developing our goals and decide what we want to do next.
We’re also going to continue bringing relevant training, guest speakers, community reads, and other efforts to the university to help broaden the topic of DEI and get everyone involved in the conversation.
What can each Simmons community member do to support DEI efforts?
Become more aware. Awareness, in a broader sense, is currently happening throughout our society. We need to address our own biases and try to look at it from a civility standpoint, in terms of what we’re going to do to help each other.
This is a conversation that needs to happen all the time — it’s not just a one-act pony. It is something that is embedded in everything that we do as an organization. We should be talking about DEI no matter what the subject, so it becomes our everyday language. When it becomes our everyday language, it’s no longer seen as this thing we must do, because it’s our culture and who we are as a community.
I leave these three quotes to think about as we move forward in this work:
- “Inclusion is not a matter of political correctness. It is the key to growth.” — Jesse Jackson
- "Diversity and inclusion, which are the real grounds for creativity, must remain at the center of what we do". — Marco Bizzarri
- "Diversity is the mix. Inclusion is making the mix work". — Andres Tapia