Trust in Educational Leadership in Times of Crisis
Educational leaders are being called as activists to achieve equity in schools and transform inequities through social justice initiatives. Whereas research exists in support of social justice leadership in education, research that intersects the work of current DEI leadership and the relevance of trust to pursue DEI initiatives is wanting. Trust in this context is important because relationship-building is a large component to implementing DEI work, which needs the support, buy-in, and active engagement from the entire community, requiring stakeholders' trust in the process. In this study, I take a deep dive into the role of DEI leadership by exploring the practices and perspectives that are common in the role and the work two decades into the 21st century. I conducted four semi-structured interviews with DEI leaders, during which participants reflected on many collective practices central to their daily work. These practices fell into three different categories encompassing similar characteristics: support, development, and resource. Through further analysis, I found that DEI leadership served four separate areas: families, students, adult staff, and the institution. Above all, a core practice of building relationships was found to be essential to achieving all said practices. In addition, the analysis revealed three common perspectives that impact DEI leadership work: the role is larger than a single person, the role must have trust and support from power positions, and the leader must have a deep connection with the work through experience and/or training. Finally, I found that benevolence, reliability, and openness are essential facets of trust impacting DEI work, as is the importance of time. The study’s results are valuable for the development of DEI leadership and achieving equitable access and inclusive environments in schools.