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Increase Faculty Diversity and Inclusivity on Campus

While the student body of college campuses has diversified over the last decades, the demographics of the faculty have largely remained unchanged. And even in fields which have diversified, candidates from historically underrepresented groups (URG) are less likely to hold leadership positions and higher ranks.

The first step institutions should take toward improving faculty diversity is addressing the hiring process for positions that are already open. Improving diversity and inclusion in hiring often falls prey to the common adage that “if something is everyone’s job, it’s no one’s job."

Though department chairs, deans, central administrators, and individual faculty members all have a role to play in diversifying the faculty, it’s important for leaders to clarify those roles at the outset. When responsibilities are aligned at the right level, and all individuals know their own responsibilities, they are less likely to duplicate work or assume that a key responsibility already has someone in charge.

Even with the best intentions, search committees can unintentionally perpetuate demographic gaps in hiring. Unconscious bias among committee members, exacerbated by poorly defined search and evaluation criteria, can prevent underrepresented faculty from advancing through the hiring pipeline.

However, it is possible to reduce the impact of unconscious bias by reforming each step in the hiring timeline, from using inclusive language in position descriptions to setting agreed-upon, explicit search criteria for committee members.

Many institutions require faculty job candidates to submit a statement detailing their commitment to diversity and how it informs their work. However, few institutions specify how they will evaluate these statements or how the diversity statement will be weighted against overall hiring criteria.

Search committees can identify concrete criteria in research, teaching, or outreach that are clearly linked to departmental and institutional priorities. Reviewing diversity statements at the beginning of the evaluation process also…

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