Dear Faculty Relations - Over the last decade, we have lost several BIPOC colleagues in our unit. Sometimes, we didn’t even get a chance to counteroffer. In my leadership position, I want to ensure we do everything possible to retain our colleagues and be aware of issues that may drive our BIPOC colleagues to seek positions elsewhere. What can I do? - Seeking Greater Awareness

Dear Seeking Greater Awareness – Your question raises an important issue many universities face. Studies have identified a lack of representation, campus climate, institutional support, a culture of taxation, and pay equity gaps as factors that explain the loss of BIPOC faculty from their institutions. Primarily white institutions (PWIs), in particular, can make BIPOC employees feel both unwelcome and invisible while potentially experiencing bias, microaggressions, discrimination, and racism.

However, there are several things that a leader can do to set the community tone in a department, and that can make a difference in supporting and retaining BIPOC faculty.

  • Engage best practices for building community, not only for BIPOC faculty but for everyone in the community. A good leader creates an ecosystem where people feel safe, seen, connected, and supported. 
  • The quality of supervision and institutional support is critical. As the leader of your unit, you can help to create an inclusive and more supportive environment by
    • implementing equitable recruitment and retention practices,
    • establishing a culture of psychological safety where individuals are not gaslighted for sharing their concerns or suggestions,
    • providing access to professional development opportunities,
    • avoiding cultural taxation or increasing the burden—extra workload—placed on BIPOC faculty,
    • creating and taking advantage of opportunities for faculty to increase their awareness of exclusionary practices, and finally,
    • working to remedy pay equity issues.

Through these practices, you can have a significant impact by committing and investing in retention strategies for diverse faculty and establishing a quality work/life environment where individuals feel valued and respected and can reach their full potential.

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Written by Patricia Gonzalez, Assistant Dean for Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion, College of Arts and Sciences, April 2023