Strategies to Enhance Diversity in Faculty Recruitment: Stages of a Successful Search

Pre-Search:  Begin addressing the issue of diversity as you prepare your proposal for a position. How diverse are you as a department/program, and how will this position contribute to enriching your curriculum? What strategies will you deploy to recruit a diverse pool of candidates? Where will you advertise and with whom will you network? All members of the department/program should be included in these early conversations. Please raise any questions or concerns when the Dean and Diversity Officer meet with department members or prior to completing Pre-Search Form (Form 1). In signing that form, the Faculty Diversity Officer confirms that the search committee is diversely constituted, and the plan for advertising and outreach follows best recruitment practices (see below).​

Forming the Search Committee: The search committee itself should be representatively diverse. For example, does the committee reflect a range of faculty ranks, genders, perspectives, and intellectual approaches?  Is anyone being excluded unfairly? Is the composition of the committee well suited for recruiting a diverse pool of candidates? Remember that the search committee is recruiting—not just evaluating—potential candidates.

Advertisement: Will you place the ad in venues that will be seen by a diverse range of candidates? Will not placing the ad somewhere undermine your chances of attracting a strong and diverse pool of candidates? In addition to including the College’s template language about affirmative action and equal opportunity, could the ad be worded in a way that somehow showcases curricular or campus diversity? Beyond discipline-specific and interdisciplinary professional associations and publications, consider the following outlets for placing ads:

Diverse: Issues in Higher Education Association for Women in Science Journal of Blacks in Higher Education
Faculty for the Future (Sciences/Engineering) Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education
​Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science Inside Higher Education
Women in Higher Education The Chronicle of Higher Education
Recruitment: Be proactive. The goal at this stage—arguably, the most important of any search—is to recruit the strongest, most diverse pool of candidates. Placing job ads in diversity-specific publications is insufficient for accomplishing this. All members of the search committee should engage in intensive outreach, contacting professional networks. Reach out to colleagues who might know candidates (e.g., department chairs of graduate programs) and to prospective candidates themselves.
For best practices and strategies in building a strong pool, see: Building the PoolInside Higher Education (2012). The following databases and resources may also prove helpful:
  • C3 Consortium (Creating Connections Consortium): A partnership involving the 20 members of the Liberal Arts Diversity Officers Consortium, including Trinity. Every year, all Trinity tenure-track faculty openings are shared with graduate students at Columbia and Berkeley. We will automatically submit your ad to the Consortium; chairs/directors are listed as the primary contact.
  • Consortium for Faculty Diversity at Liberal Arts Colleges: This is the same national database that Trinity uses to recruit the Ann Plato Fellow each year. It is also available for departments/programs conducting searches. Those needing the password should contact Sylvia DeMore.
  • Directory of Ford Foundation Fellows: A searchable listing of recipients of Ford Foundation fellowships, awarded by the National Research Council based on academic excellence and a commitment to diversity and a career in academia.

Evaluating Candidates:  Search committee members should be aware and protect against common biases and assumptions in reviewing applications. Once the committee meets to narrow the pool, it should discuss explicitly the criteria guiding choices and the rationale for including or omitting candidates. The committee should address openly how various candidates could enhance the department/program’s diversity and excellence. For First-Round Search Form (Form 2), the Diversity Officer will want to ensure that diversity has been an integral part of the evaluation process and that the pool is sufficiently diverse to proceed. The chair of the search committee will also have to report, drawing on the report generated by the PeopleAdmin system and accessible only by the department’s/program’s administrative assistant that presents aggregate data on the number of minority and female applicants. Throughout the process, diversity should be seen as a means of strengthening our faculty and offerings, not simply an item on a checklist.

In conducting any preliminary interviews over Skype or other videoconference technology, search committees must make every effort to treat all candidates consistently. Assessment criteria should be the same for all candidates, regardless of the technology used. See here for guidelines​; and as with in-person interviews, avoid discriminatory questions or assumptions (e.g., relating to age, race, ethnicity, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, marital or pregnancy status, or disability).

The following recommendations are borrowed directly from Reviewing Applicants: Research on Bias and Assumptions (Women in Science & Engineering Leadership Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2006):

Suggestions for Minimizing the Impact of Bias and Assumptions:
  • Strive to increase the representation of women and minorities in your applicant pool.
  • Learn about and discuss research on biases and assumptions and consciously strive to minimize their influence on your evaluation.
  • Develop evaluation criteria prior to evaluating candidates and apply them consistently to all applicants.
  • Spend sufficient time (at least 20 minutes) evaluating each applicant.
  • Evaluate each candidate’s entire application; don’t depend too heavily on only one element such as the letters of recommendation, or the prestige of the degree-granting institution or post-doctoral program.
  • Be able to defend every decision for eliminating or advancing a candidate.
  • Periodically evaluate your judgments, determine whether women and underrepresented minorities are included in your pool, and consider whether evaluation biases and assumptions are influencing your.
See also:
Campus Visits:  Invitations to campus are more than opportunities to evaluate a candidate. They are occasions to communicate with a candidate about the full range of the College’s resources and offerings, including support for faculty development. Ideally, candidates should be given the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of students whose feedback can then be solicited. Campus visits should be structured inclusively, introducing candidates to multiple communities. Prior to conducting on-campus evaluations, the search committee will submit Finalist Search Form (Form 3).  When candidates visit campus, search committees should be considering among other things how well a candidate would teach and mentor a diverse student body, and how the candidate’s own work could diversify the College’s curriculum and research profile.

Final Selection: The chair of the search committee should ensure that the committee reviews carefully all finalists, discussing explicitly how each candidate might enhance the department/program’s overall diversity. In signing Hiring Decision Search Form (Form 4), the Diversity Officer will want to understand how considerations of diversity, broadly defined, informed the final decision.

Concluding the Search: Following completion of a search, committee chairs are invited to communicate with the Faculty Diversity Officer about effective strategies, recruitment challenges, institutional suggestions, etc. In some cases, it may be helpful to hold meetings of recent and current search committee chairs to exchange views and lessons learned.