Provost's Diversity and Inclusion Hiring Initiative

Hiring faculty and staff who are committed to cultivating equitable and diverse learning and work environments is imperative to fulfilling Western’s strategic plan goals of Advancing Inclusive Success, Increasing Washington Impact, and Enhancing Academic Excellence.

The Provost’s Diversity and Inclusion Hiring Initiative (“Initiative”) assists search committees in applying more equitable and inclusive practices at every stage of the search process. This includes examining implicit bias and applying learning tools to limit its negative impact; structuring job descriptions and outreach efforts to attract more diverse applicant pools; and requiring candidates to specifically address their experience and commitment to ensuring equity and inclusion in the classroom and workplace, during the application and interview process.

President Sabah Randhawa began the Initiative in the summer of 2017 as a first year pilot, with oversight by Provost Brent Carbajal, and management by Sue Guenter-Schlesinger, Special Assistant to the Provost for Training and Development. The Initiative began its third year in the fall of 2019, and has scaled up these practices, making them required for all 26 faculty searches and two administrative professional searches in AY 2019-2020. The intent is to continue to expand the Initiative to include many administrative and staff searches by AY 2020-2021, and ultimately, all searches.

Centering Equity & Inclusion throughout the Search Process

  1. Equity and Inclusion Training: In Year 3 of the Pilot (AY 2019-2020), Deans, Department Chairs and Search Chairs are required to take a two-hour Equity & Inclusion training, and other search committee members are encouraged to attend. The training focuses on identifying best practices for fair and equitable hiring and overcoming implicit bias in search processes. This training covers topics including:
    • Detailed examination of dynamics of unconscious bias and ways to mitigate unconscious bias during the search, including questioning committee members’ assumptions
    • Centering and evaluating equity and inclusion competencies at each stage of the search
    • Conducting effective and more personal outreach to build an excellent, broad and diverse applicant pool.
  2. Position Descriptions that Center Equity & Inclusion: Position descriptions are intentionally structured to attract a broad and diverse set of applicants, and emphasize requirements related to past experience and future commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion in the classroom and workplace.
    • Emphasis on diversity commitment and work expectations, endorsed by the relevant Dean and department chair, that may describe past and future efforts by the Department and College related to advancing the success of diverse students and positively influencing the organizational culture for students, faculty and staff of diverse backgrounds. Search committees are also asked to include in their job descriptions, highlights of diversity efforts undertaken by the Department and/or College (e.g., faculty-led initiatives, committees, and grants, etc., focusing on diversity and inclusivity in the classroom and beyond).
    • Conveying the expectation that those hired will assist in closing existing gaps in student retention and success by:
      • Fulfilling teaching and mentoring responsibilities in ways that provide equitable and inclusive learning environments for all students;
      • One or more required qualifications such as:
        • Demonstrated record of supporting the success of students traditionally underrepresented in the field;
        • Demonstrated ability and commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion within the department, or;
        • Demonstrated ability and commitment to cultivating learning environments that are equitable and inclusive of students with diverse social identities and backgrounds.
      • Application instructions that include specific reference to the diversity requirement, addressing how the applicant meets the required qualification related to diversity and evidencing their commitment to fulfill the position responsibility related to diversity, equity and inclusion. In the first year pilot, search committees could either ask for a separate statement or ask that the diversity requirement be addressed in their cover letter. For the second and third years of the Pilot, search committees are asking for a separate statement from applicants, which has assisted search committees in evaluating candidates on this required qualification.
  3. Increased Personal Outreach: This Initiative recognizes the importance of the hiring authority (Dean/Vice President and/or Department Chair/Director) to become much more engaged in actively recruiting a diverse set of applicants. Personal phone calls with counterparts in institutions that may be a source of potential applicants with diverse backgrounds, enable leadership involved with hiring to communicate more fully about the position, the University, and life in the community. It is hoped that with this more personal outreach, Western will be increasingly successful in assembling broad and diverse applicant pools for its open positions.

Progress to Date

  • The first year of this Initiative focused on eight centrally funded tenure-track faculty searches and is summarized in the Provost’s Diversity & Inclusion Hiring Initiative Academic Year 2017-2018 Pilot Summary Report.
  • The second year of the Initiative focused on 10 tenure-track faculty searches and is summarized in the Provost’s Diversity & Inclusion Hiring Initiative Academic Year 2018-2019 Pilot Summary Report.
  • For the third year of the Initiative, AY 2019-2020, this Initiative has been broadened to include 26 faculty searches and two administrative professional searches.

Commitment for the Future

Lessons learned from the implementation of the Initiative pilots have and will continue to inform criteria/requirements that can be applied to all tenure-track faculty and staff searches going forward. Future directions for this Initiative include a much more in-depth and lengthy hiring best practices and implicit bias training in which participants can be certified and then available to sit on Western search committees. These individuals will assist with the work of recruiting for broad and diverse applicant pools; overcoming implicit bias in the search evaluations; and helping to remove barriers that may exist to ensuring an equitable and inclusive search process.

Consultation/More Information

Interface/consultation with search committees throughout the duration of the search is available to assist in minimizing any barriers to hiring the best qualified candidate. For consultation and/or more information, contact: Sue Guenter-Schlesinger (sue.guenter-schlesinger@wwu.edu); tel: (360) 650-4307.