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 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.
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.
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:
- Diverse Jobs
- People of Color in Higher Education
- Women in Higher Education
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.
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.
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