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Research Report

3 hiring practices to help diversify higher education faculty

July 28, 2021


3 hiring practices to help diversify higher education faculty

<a data-primary-product="" href="">Leah Matari</a>

By Leah Matari

July 28, 2021 3 min read


As activists continue to call attention to the racial disparities in faculty demographics, institutional DEIJ plans increasingly include goals to recruit and retain BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) faculty. To realize these goals in a competitive hiring environment, hiring committees need to infuse DEIJ practices into each stage of the recruitment process. Most higher education institutions do not have standardized DEIJ hiring practices embedded into their processes-but that can change.

Below, we’ve laid out actionable DEIJ-focused and candidate-centric hiring practices to incorporate into your next faculty hiring plan.

Increase the size and diversity of your applicant pool by reducing opportunities for bias

The hiring committee can take the following three steps to help reduce bias and promote equity across the initial stages of the review process:

  • Blind candidates’ names and PhD-granting institutions during the first round of resume screening to avoid preference for candidates who attended similar institutions to committee members.
  • Conduct initial interviews as phone interviews rather than video calls where bias can be introduced based on candidates’ appearances, or conference interviews that depend on candidates being able to afford conference attendance.
  • Introduce a second round of phone or video interviews before the on-campus interview to ensure institutions are interviewing a larger pool of candidates.

Instilling equity and inclusion in departmental practices The decisions, processes, and preferences that truly impact diversity and inclusion occur at the departmental level-chairs, program heads, and faculty leaders must identify and remedy sources of bias within traditional recruitment, hiring, onboarding, and promotion practices. This study will help academic leaders approach diversity and inclusion as the result of more equitable and intentional practices under their direct control.

Create personalized welcome baskets to help the candidate begin to feel part of the community before their on-campus interview

Many candidates may be apprehensive about whether they will be welcome or fit into the local community surrounding the campus, especially in isolated rural locations. To help candidates see the benefits of living in your local area, committees should consider sending top candidates a welcome basket that gives them a taste of the community. A welcome basket also helps committees build connections with candidates and help them feel personally welcomed to community before they arrive on campus. The University of Central Arkansas even included a welcome letter from the mayor of their local community in their welcome baskets.

Items may include:
  1. Restaurant menus from the community that showcase a diverse range of cultures and cuisines
  2. Information on nearby recreational activities
  3. University swag (e.g., a coffee mug)
  4. Information on diverse grocery stores (e.g., grocery stores offering halal or kosher products)
  5. Information on houses of worship
  6. Beauty and personal care options for BIPOC populations (e.g., Black hair salons)
  7. Snack mix from a local company (consider highlighting BIPOC-owned companies)
  8. Information about local BIPOC community organizations and resources from the Chambers of Commerce

Close up of handshake in the office

Personalize and tailor the on-campus visit to the candidates’ interests

The on-campus interview presents a unique opportunity for institutions to showcase the best of their community. However, back-to-back interviews often leave little time for candidates to get to know the community. This impacts all candidates, but especially BIPOC candidates who may not initially see themselves represented in the community.

Personalize tours and activities during the on-campus visit such as:

  • Connect candidates with a local realtor who can show candidates different neighborhoods and highlight relevant factors such as affordability, demographics, and access to local schools.
  • Introduce candidates to local BIPOC organizations (e.g., Black Organizing Project based in Oakland, CA). Creating connections between the greater community and campus avoids placing a burden on current BIPOC faculty to meet with every candidate.

Move beyond debate and take action

Learn more about how the Institutional Strategy Index for DEIJ can help you quickly and comprehensively assess the current state of DEIJ on campus and prioritize the work that matters most to your strategy.

learn more

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