The Purpose of this step is to ensure that the hiring committee embodies the unit's commitment to inclusive excellence.
An essential strategy in the inclusive hiring process is to make certain that the hiring committee is composed and trained such that its members can recognize and counteract structural inequity and implicit/explicit biases. This is among the most crucial steps in ensuring an inclusive and equitable faculty-search process and should therefore be treated with great consideration and care.
Six Action Items for Creating and Preparing an Inclusive Hiring Committee
1. Ensure diverse representation on the committee in multiple forms:
An equitable hiring committee will include members with varied demographic identities/profiles.
Unit affiliates who are members of underrepresented groups bring important perspectives into the hiring process. It is imperative, however, that committee members who identify with underrepresented groups are not tokenized or otherwise exploited. Consider the following example:
A unit wishes to project the appearance that it is committed to inclusivity and equitability. Yet the unit is not truly invested in the work of diversifying faculty representation. To promote an image of inclusivity, the unit asks one BIPOC affiliate to serve on a faculty-hiring committee. When the committee meets, members who enjoy more structural privilege override the contributions of their BIPOC colleague. In this scenario, the "inclusion" of the BIPOC committee member serves to legitimize the committee's reproduction of systems of privilege and power rather than to facilitate a paradigm shift.
It is important to understand that the non-inclusive actors in this example could well believe they are committed to faculty diversification. That is an important aspect of how structural inequity operates. It is often invisible to those who do its bidding.
To avoid this trap, units that are truly committed to faculty diversification should ensure that a substantial portion of a hiring committee's members represent BIPOC and other institutionally marginalized social categories. Units in which faculty are predominantly white/male/etc. should consider collaborating with other departments/programs to ensure inclusive and equitable representation on hiring committees.
A diverse committee should comprise members with different levels of professional experience and status within the unit (e.g. senior faculty, junior faculty, and graduate students).
The committee should also comprise members who have earned their degrees at different types of postsecondary institutions. A committee member who graduated from a state university might, for example, be more likely to recognize and challenge institutional bias (please see Develop a Plan to Recognize and Mitigate Bias) than a committee member who attended an elite university.
Those responsible for selecting the hiring committee should consider including a representative of the Environmental Studies Program's Inclusive Excellence Committee.
2. DO NOT overburden underrepresented affiliates, and DO compensate those who bear a higher burden of service:
As mentioned above, one important way to counteract implicit bias is to ensure diverse representation on hiring committees. Yet underrepresented faculty and graduate students often bear a greater burden of service than their overrepresented colleagues, and this burden can negatively impact career development. It is therefore essential that underrepresented affiliates who are dedicated to actualizing the goals of inclusivity and equitability are adequately compensated for their commitment. In other words, underrepresented affiliates engaging in service that furthers the principles of inclusive excellence—such as those serving on hiring committees—should be relieved of certain other service responsibilities, or they should be otherwise compensated for their time. And these affiliates should be consulted to determine what form of compensation will best support their personal wellbeing and career development.
3. The committee chair must meet with the Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Unit in Human Resources:
While it is imperative that the committee chair meets with the Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Unit, it will also benefit the entire committee to utilize this valuable resource.
4. All committee members must thoughtfully complete the Faculty Diversity Search and Hire Online Course:
Let's face it, online trainings can be time consuming and easy to rush. But the information available in the Faculty Diversity Search and Hire Online Course is immensely important. All individuals (not only hiring-committee members) who weigh in on faculty-hiring decisions should set aside an adequate amount of time to explore this resource in careful depth.
One important function of this step is to train hiring decisionmakers on how to recognize and counteract implicit bias. Knowledge about implicit bias is an essential characteristic of an inclusive and equitable hiring committee. It is important to note, however, that some research suggests implicit-bias training can be marginally effective, ineffective, and even counterproductive—depending on how it is administered and how trainees perceive it.
5. All committee members must carefully read and review the Faculty Search Process Manual:
Much like the Faculty Diversity Search and Hire Online Course, the Faculty Search Process Manual is only valuable if it is purposefully utilized. All individuals (not only hiring committee members) who weigh in on faculty-hiring decisions should set aside an adequate amount of time to explore this resource in careful depth.
6. All committee members must have substantive knowledge about structural inequity:
Understanding structural inequity takes a lot of time and commitment. Committee members who are familiar with critical race theory, post-colonial theory, whiteness studies, and other tools for identifying and dismantling institutional inequity are best equipped to serve on an inclusive hiring committee. Unit affiliates who have experience with—or who specialize in—these fields should be recruited for service on hiring committees. Committee members who have little or no familiarity with such scholarly paradigms must be committed to educating themselves beyond mandatory trainings. For a starting point, such affiliates should examine Must-Read Articles on Faculty Diversification.
For more on the importance on creating and preparing an inclusive hiring committee, see these external resources.