Do You Embrace Diversity?

A good friend of mine is an Associate Professor at a well-known and highly respected public university; she recently interviewed for and received a job offer from a prestigious national research university.  The offer contained a significant raise, fewer hours of teaching and significant opportunities to buy capital assets to enhance her practice.  A “no-brainer” – right.

Not so fast.

The interview process, which included five Professors and a Dean, was entirely made up of men.  She knew that going into it, and in fact knew that what made her an excellent candidate was not only her skill and renown, but that they were looking for a diverse candidate to add to the organization.  She was fine with that, but her concern going into the interview with “eyes wide open” was if they were receptive enough to open the “club” to her.  They seem to be, and the process is continuing.

What is diversity?  In certain areas of academic jobs interviewing it is the addition of non-white males to the process.  But in many other areas of hiring for higher education jobs it is just the opposite.  A large western university recently hired for a Director of Human Resources; guess how many candidates were male – it was under 30%.

My point is that diversity is just that – diversity.  50/50 male-female ratios for every job would be ideal going forward.  The fact that 60+% of job applicants for higher ed jobs on this website are female indicates that the pendulum has indeed swung.  It is also beginning to swing for persons of color, gender preference differences, age, etc..

This journal really has very little to do with male / female, black / white, over-40 / under-40 or any other statistics.  Simply using a “diversity-based” job hiring site (Black/African American, Female, Asian or Hispanic) will NOT get the job done; these sites are very expensive, and in many cases are providing the same candidates you can find on a diversity-oriented “blended” higher education job board for significantly less money.  You have to get the best mix of candidates to ensure diversity, and the best way to ensure that diversity is achieved is to embrace it.  At a HBCU that could mean something totally different than at a large public university.

We have a keyword-based WYSIWYG search engine on to market openings to applicants; the search-engine bots pick up on these keywords.  When schools sometimes ask us about what to include as keywords, we always lead with “we embrace diversity.”  Very few schools actually take us up on it.  Every school has an EO/AA statement on their websites, but how many actually state publicly “we embrace diversity”?

To embrace diversity is a state of mind, whether on campus, on a job board or in the greater community.  We embrace opportunities for everyone.  Hopefully you and, more important, your hiring search committees, do also.

Rick Friedman is President of

P.S. -  She took the job.



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