Q&A with Faith Perkins, Assistant Vice President for Talent Development

June 28, 2021

Q&A with Faith Perkins, Assistant Vice President for Talent Development

Spotlighting work going on among Baylor's staff to continue building a culture of justice and equity.

Q: First of all, Faith, what is your role at the University?

When I go to career day at my son's school, I describe my role as "helping great people get even better at their jobs." More officially, I work with the HR teams that manage talent acquisition, learning and development and the HR associates that serve as Baylor's HR Service Center. These groups work in partnership with other areas of HR to provide fulfilling work and needed support from the minute someone applies for a job at Baylor through the full life cycle of their career.

Q: As I emphasized with Dr. Lori Baker a few months ago, it is abundantly clear that in order to build a just and equitable culture at Baylor, we need to invest particularly in those who have been historically marginalized in our midst. I think particularly of women, racial and ethnic minorities, veterans and others. What are some ways that you support these staff?

Working with others to create frameworks that effectively support diversity and belonging across campus is of highest importance to Baylor's HR team, and we actively seek ways to add depth and breadth to our outreach efforts. Ultimately, bringing together different perspectives helps us understand one another and work together in richer ways and creates a sense of belonging. Work in the space of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) isn't a box to check as "complete." It's a continuous process of listening and focus, trial and error, retooling and then doing it again. That happens across every facet of work in HR.

Our talent acquisition professionals work with hiring managers on searches to ensure that we are casting a wide net for candidates in the best possible way. While COVID-19 has changed some of the broad outreach work that has been a routine part of developing our candidate pools for years, it hasn't deterred the team from seeking out new avenues. Baylor has a strong presence at Waco events that support employment of women, veterans, people with disabilities and people of color, and we're looking forward to again being a leader at events as they begin opening up for participation again this fall. In the meantime, the team facilitates kickoff sessions for staff search committees that focus on expanding our reach in an inclusive way.

With learning and development work, there is a constant focus on finding touchpoints that help to support diverse perspectives. From including bias awareness in routine training for managers as they prepared to write and deliver performance reviews this year to offering self-study options with hundreds of learning options through LinkedIn, meaningful learning is at your fingertips on our campus in many areas, including diversity. Crucial Conversations© is a cornerstone of our training offerings and is an exceptional deep dive into navigating even the most difficult conversations in an incredibly respectful way. Ultimately, respect is at the core of creating that sense of belonging. Respecting the person and respecting the perspective — especially if it's different from our own — is at the heart of what we work to infuse in our training offerings. Every event we hold is another opportunity to not only inform but to listen, and we take that feedback seriously.

Expanding out into other parts of HR, the HR Consulting (HRC) team is a day-to-day resource for guidance, support and input. Under the leadership of Stephanie Fenty, the HRC team partners with departments across campus to help not only managers but every employee navigate situations that can feel complex. The HRC relationship is one that can really help to bring together a number of different resources and tools to help our staff work at their best in a proactive way. Of course, if there's ever an instance where an employee feels like his or her differences have impacted potential for success, we want and need to know that so we can work to find solutions.

Q:  Culture change only happens with the shifting of people, policies and processes. What might that work look like among Baylor's staff members?

The HR team has strong partnerships with key groups on campus that help us to keep conversation going. In addition to Baylor's Equity office, the Staff Council, the Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA) and the HR Advisory Committee are just a few examples of the partnerships on which we rely to make informed decisions and assess potential for change. Each group serves as a sounding board and conduit to help inform future work. That feedback is crucial to guiding our continuous improvement focus, including ensuring that we're listening and responding to areas that can enhance our work in diversity, equity and inclusion. The partnership with BFSA, for example, has led to some exciting projects underway now that we know will have a lasting positive impact for DEI work on campus. That's a powerful outcome, and we can't wait to see how these partnerships help us find even more ways to shift perspectives and drive outcomes that promote diversity and belonging.

Q: How can the Baylor community partner with you in your work?

Stay aware and be involved. As a staff member myself, I find resources and tools that inform and enrich from multiple places across campus and in our neighboring communities. HR communicates internal programs and training offerings on a routine basis through the BU@Work email every other Tuesday, and you can frequently find resources to help grow diverse perspectives. You can also browse current offerings in the "Learning" tab within Ignite.

However, HR is just one of many places on campus where employees can find an opportunity to learn and grow. I participated in a podcast study led by Cuevas Peacock in External Affairs last year that was exceptional, and I also tapped into Groundwater Training that was offered. The programs from Multicultural Affairs under the direction of Pearl Beverly present not only a great way to learn, but also to understand what our students are thinking. Baylor's commitment to DEI is constantly evolving, and the best success will come when it's a collective work.

Our campus experience is richer when we seek out different viewpoints and share our thoughts in return. Bringing your perspectives and voice to the table makes us all better. And never hesitate to reach out if the HR team can partner with you in that process.

End note: For more information on program offerings through Baylor Human Resources or to connect with your HR Consultant or other members of the HR team, visit us online, or contact the Baylor HR Service Center at askhr@baylor.edu or at (254)710-2000. Faith Perkins can be reached at faith_perkins@baylor.edu