Diversity or Inclusion: If you build it will they come?

A few years ago, I was sitting at a diversity conference and was talking to a CDO at one of my clients.  She was not my primary contact at the client, but still was a very key "player" in several aspects of the hiring process.  Her frustration was evident.  They get lots of diverse faculty applicants from our website, making quite a few offers; at the end of the day, diversity has not increased.

Two years later, the same client, advertising for graduate school faculty and students, included a picture in their advertising with 20 people - 2 Asian, 4 women and 0 Blacks or Hispanics.

This is actually true, and not uncommon.

Diversity can't be willed.  It can't be bought (even though several Ivy League schools are attempting it.  It has to start both at the top down and the bottom up - simultaneously.  Partial success occurs only when the top and bottom meet somewhere in the middle - the faculty hire.  Why only partial success?  Until you keep a hire for several years, and they begin hiring more diverse applicants - only then will you have success.

Diversity is a count of numbers.  Inclusion is a way of life; it takes time and commitment.

A faculty applicant who walks into an interview and sees no peers or staff members who are "like" him/her will turn away.   A faculty hire who can't get mentorship or friendship will leave.

Staff diversity hires, no matter ethnic or otherwise, are the "low-hanging fruit."  Faculty hires are "zero sum," and only the strong survive.  Faculty pools are limited and, in some specialties, non-existent from a diversity standpoint.  You can't squeeze water from a rock - period.

Diversity pipelines for faculty take 9 - 13 years to build, as well as a commitment / collaboration of multiple institutions.  The best example, by far, is the Vanderbilt - Fisk partnership in Physics.

If you build it will they come.  Maybe, maybe not.  But if you don't - there is an overwhelming probability that they won't.

 Inclusion before diversity.

Rick Friedman is President the parent company of ScholarlyHires.com.

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