Strategic Diversity Plans, Reports, & Tools

Creating a school diversity plan

Any plan for faculty diversity should have at least three substantive parts: a values statement, a list of guiding policies and best practices, and metrics for implementation and accountability. The plan should be vetted thoroughly among the various stakeholders within the school, as well as aligned with campus values and strategic objectives.

Above all, the plan should speak to the needs of the school and the value that it places upon recruiting and retaining a diverse and excellent faculty, as well as the school-specific resources and methodologies that will be deployed to operationalize the plan.

The values statement should be clear and concise, and convey the value that the school places on recruiting and retaining a faculty that is intellectually, culturally, and demographically diverse and that showcases Indiana University’s commitment to being a globally relevant institution of higher learning.

This section might also stress the compatibility of research and teaching excellence with the foundational premise that the university is at its best when it serves as a dynamic meeting ground for a rich and varied array of people, ideas, and educational enterprises.

Finally, the school might also mention how a commitment to faculty diversity is pertinent to its role in supporting the campus strategic plan, which calls for cross-unit collaborations that foster greater interdisciplinarity and engagement with Grand Challenges.

Sample language and ideas from the bicentennial strategic plan might be paraphrased or alluded to in the values statement of the school.

The campus mission statement also articulates the value placed on diversity.

The Bloomington Faculty Council has articulated its commitment to diversity through statements and resolutions.

Your diversity plan should include a set of guiding policies and practical measures for actuating the ideas referenced in the values statement. Best practices for recruiting and retaining a diverse faculty may vary from school to school, and even among units within the same school. Much will depend upon the demographic makeup of individual disciplines, market trends as they impact candidate availability, budgetary realities, and other factors. However, there are proactive, positive means for diversifying faculty composition that are not discipline- or school-specific and that warrant consideration.

Schools and sub-units are strongly encouraged to prepare a list of best practices that interface well with the culture, needs, and resources of the organization, as well as demonstrably enhance the opportunities to recruit and retain a diverse faculty. If the school or unit already has a strategic plan or other document that incorporates such policies and practices, this should be the starting point for efforts to further diversify faculty ranks. In addition to these school-specific plans, other best practices might include much or all of the following:

  • Units should be encouraged to engage their faculty in discussions about excellence, merit, and qualifications, in an effort to reach a consensus on principles that will guide the department’s hiring process and retention efforts. Ideally, such discussions should get beyond conventional standards of measuring quality, such as educational pedigree, number of publications, affiliations of referees, and the job talk.
  • Deans and unit heads should empanel search committees that are both knowledgeable in the areas in which they are recruiting and that include women and minority members. In units with little demographic diversity, it may occasionally be advisable to invite women or minority colleagues with appropriate expertise from other units to serve on search committees.
  • The school should require that job ads be phrased in ways that do not limit the prospective candidate pool. That is, job ads should be written in a fashion that does not unduly limit the size or intellectual breadth of the applicant pool by requiring highly specific expertise, pedigree, and so forth. The ad should also include a strong statement concerning the institution’s commitment to diversity and the unit’s desire to encourage a broad array of candidates to apply.
  • A copy of the IU Bloomington faculty recruitment guide should be provided to all search committee members as mandatory reading. This guide should be discussed during the first committee meeting and serve as a reference resource for the entire recruitment process.
  • Unit heads should give search committees clear instructions about how to maximize the diversity of their application pools. Committees should act under the assumption that they are expected to bring a diverse list of possible candidates to the unit’s consideration. Search committees should also explicitly discuss hiring expectations, assessment methodology, and diversity goals early during the recruitment process, ideally during the first committee meeting. A campus official specializing in faculty diversity or HR matters might also be invited if the unit head or search chair anticipates committee questions that could best be addressed by these individuals.
  • The school should authorize units to hire faculty in clusters, with a senior person hired first who can actively assist in the recruitment of junior scholars. Units seeking to make cluster hires, especially those involving the recruitment of underrepresented faculty members, should be required to articulate how such hires will be incorporated into the programmatic trajectory of the unit, as well as how the unit’s faculty will provide the necessary mentoring for junior scholars.
  • A representative of the search committee will attend a mandatory orientation for search committee chairs sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs (OVPFAA) each fall.
  • Each unit will maintain a list of “people to watch” that will include underrepresented candidates whom the unit could possibly cultivate as prospective job candidates. Units and schools should cultivate undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, and under-placed faculty members at other universities, assuming that some may become job candidates at some future time. This list will be annually updated by the unit head and provided to search committee chairs.
  • Units and schools should consider sponsoring lecture series, visitor presentations, and other forums that actively seek the participation of underrepresented scholars. Such events can allow for “look-overs” that result in a recruitment opportunity.
  • Search committees are advised to take full advantage of their own collegial contacts and networks to facilitate search objectives. This strategy might include contacting colleagues at other IU campuses to solicit nominations of candidates; sending job ads directly to women and minority candidates to encourage them to apply; sending job announcements to units and institutions that serve large minority populations; reaching out to qualified post-docs and faculty candidates who may be under-placed at lower-ranked institutions; and requesting that faculty and graduate students of the recruiting unit distribute copies of job announcements at conferences and professional meetings that they attend.
  • Schools and units should encourage and assist faculty members in regard to attending national events (conferences, workshops, etc.) that attract faculty from underrepresented groups.

Best practices are, of course, situationally contingent and require a confluence of conditions, resources, and operational wherewithal to realize. However, they speak directly to the principles and mission of an organization, highlighting what its members believe is important to its existence and perpetuation.

Enhancing faculty diversity is an imperative of a 21st-century university operating within the context of a nation undergoing seismic demographic, economic, and social changes. To some extent, the credibility of the institution and its ability to adapt to the world in which we live will hinge upon our capacity to be more representative of that world in a more equitable way. Simply cloning our current faculty under the pretense that this is the way to maintain quality is a narrow, unimaginative vision of the world that serves to reify the status quo and even invites a kind of stasis. This approach will ill suit the campus for the kind of 21st-century cultural literacy, institutional innovativeness, and societal leadership that a truly great university should aspire to model.

Given these observations, IU Bloomington is in earnest in regard to enhancing faculty diversity. We would like for this sense of urgency to be reflected in recruitment and retention efforts across the campus. To this end, schools and units should put in place action plans and accountability metrics for assessing progress toward diversifying their faculty. These measures should complement their slate of best practices and align with campus strategies and goals. As it does via the Strategic Recruitment Fund that pairs campus- level funding with school-level resources to hire underrepresented (U.S.) minorities and women, the campus stands ready to partner with schools and units to institute best practices regarding diversity, as well as efforts to measure and evaluate their impact.

In this vein, the following implementation and accountability practices are recommended and will be pursued in observance of the campus strategic plan. Again, schools and units are encouraged to supplement these policies and practices with others that facilitate local diversity goals and provide mechanisms for accessing progress:

Schools are strongly encouraged to create organizational infrastructure that is designed to serve both an educational role for recruiting and retaining a diverse faculty and as an entity for strategizing ways to realize this mission. This infrastructure (whether an office, a committee, a working group, or some other expression) should have direct access to the dean’s office, meeting with school officials (which might occasionally include department chairs, program directors, etc.) no less than biannually to discuss faculty recruitment plans for the future and any issues concerning the school’s pursuit of faculty diversity goals. Moreover, this entity should be available to faculty, staff, and students who have confidential concerns about diversity, whether related to recruitment, retention, or climate.

Prior to recommending candidates for interviews, search committees should report to department chairs in writing their proactive efforts to diversify the candidate pool. These reports will, in turn, be provided to the school’s academic associate dean, who will provide a copy to OVPFAA. When search lines are authorized, it is expected that deans will inform unit heads of the need to make material efforts to diversify candidate pools and that these efforts should be documented in writing by search committee chairs.

Within the appropriate legal and institutional parameters, OVPFAA will work with unit heads and search committee chairs to chart the diversity of candidate pools at every stage of the recruitment process. Upon request, OVPFAA and/or the Office of Affirmative Action can also provide utilization data for each position advertised by a school. This data illustrates the rates of employment of U.S. minorities and women by IU Bloomington units—that is, whether they are sufficiently represented, underrepresented, overrepresented—as compared to the availability of such applicants in the relevant labor market.

Candidate pools that lack demographic diversity from the beginning, particularly in fields and areas where IU Bloomington underutilizes the known available pools of diverse candidates, will likely trigger inquiries from OVPFAA and perhaps even delay authorization for continuing the search. Search committee chairs should be prepared to account for any lack of diversity in candidate pools, even in light of their best efforts to encourage demographic heterogeneity among applicants.

Beyond search committees, school- and campus-level leadership will be needed to diversify candidate pools in some instances. In scenarios of conspicuous noncooperation with campus diversity strategies and goals regarding recruitment, OVPFAA will consider measures that highlight the value that the campus places on faculty diversity. For example, a search that does not produce a diverse pool of candidates might result in delay of authorization for continuing the search or even discontinuation of the recruitment process.