At a time when colleges are under fierce pressure to diversify their faculty and staff members, higher ed leaders are discussing ways to grow a pool of diverse applicants and banish bias from the hiring process.
But while a push to increase diversity seems to be on every college and university’s list of goals, not all institutions are thinking beyond hiring when it comes to fulfilling diversity requirements.
And although hiring diverse candidates can be tough, retaining them can be even tougher. After all, competition is steep: there are currently more than 377,000 midsize and large nonprofits in the United States—all of which have set a goal to diversify their staff, notes EAB Senior Analyst Maria Morrison.
So I’ve rounded up four tactics for welcoming, supporting, and ultimately retaining the diverse faculty and staff you hire at your institution:
1: Take an intersectional approach
Climate surveys and exit interviews are helpful in understanding how your institution can improve inclusion efforts. But to really understand your campus’s climate—and implement relevant, lasting changes—you need to take an intersectional approach, argues Ruchika Tulshyan, author of The Diversity Advantage: Fixing Gender Inequality in the Workplace.
For instance, if you administer an engagement survey by division, analyze results by race, ethnicity, and gender “to surface nuances for particular demographic groups,” recommends EAB’s Advancement Forum.
Then, you can use the results to inform implicit bias or diversity trainings to address the unique challenges individuals face at your institution, recommends Tulshyan.
2: Implement inclusion programming
All faculty and staff at your institution can benefit from inclusion programming, which can take the form of an annual institution-wide training session or monthly brown bag discussions on topics like gender fluidity and race, according to the EAB Advancement Forum.
But to ensure that inclusion programming is top of mind year round, consider forming working groups that focus on specific inclusion goals, or including diversity as a standing item for staff meetings. You can also highlight diversity and inclusion efforts in newsletters and emails, recommends EAB’s Advancement Forum.
3: Fund and support resource groups
Teams can connect faculty and staff through employee groups and programs, such as cross-department coffee chats or cross-divisional shadow days, according to the EAB Advancement Forum. Colleges and universities can also implement institution-wide employee resource groups (ERGs).
While these groups and programs should be open to all employees at your institution, ensure that the groups achieve the goal of supporting traditionally marginalized communities. “When you address the most marginalized communities in the organization, you have a better shot at creating an inclusive environment,” explains Tulshyan.
And perhaps most importantly, ensure that faculty and staff aren’t piling the added responsibility of running an ERG on top of their full-time workload, notes Nicole Sanchez, founder and CEO of Vaya Consulting. “Give people time [out of their normal workload] to work on [diversity, equity, and inclusion],” says Sanchez.
4: Facilitate mentorships
Mentorships not only act as support networks for diverse faculty and staff, they also provide opportunities for leadership and professional development.
Leadership development is particularly important, as senior administrators are typically far less diverse than the rest of campus. In fact, a new study published in the Hispanic Journal of Law and Policy reports that just 5.2% and 6.6% of tenured faculty at bachelor’s institutions are black and Hispanic, respectively. And these numbers are even lower at the doctoral level, where black and Hispanic employees make up just 4% and 4.6% of tenured faculty, respectively, compared to 74.2% of white employees.
“Promotion of diversity during new faculty recruitment clearly isn’t enough,” writes EAB Research Analyst Michelle DeMenna for the Academic Affairs Forum. Both new hires and post-tenured faculty “need access to a mentor who can provide guidance on career development and the promotion process.”
This study will help academic leaders approach diversity and inclusion not merely as an idea, but as the result of more equitable and intentional practices under their direct control.
Learn more about faculty diversity and inclusion
When we don't use inclusive language, we can unintentionally alienate and exclude employees and students on our campus.
The goal is for faculty diversity to align more closely with the rising diversity of the student body.
Colleges face fierce pressure from students to diversify their faculty and staff. One talent consultant suggests ways to expand your pool of candidates and make your process more equitable.
Use the Retention Strategies for Diverse Staff document to identify best practices that will work for your institution.