Support for Faculty Search Committees

Evaluating Candidate Contributions to Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

All new faculty we hire, regardless of demographic characteristics or life circumstances, should be committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, and contributing to a positive campus climate at Berkeley. Assessing candidates in this regard can be successfully incorporated into the entire search process, from the job advertisement to the selection of the final candidate. While faculty who were hired years ago may not have been evaluated in this way, or even have considered its importance, many of the most competitive faculty candidates today are invested in and prepared to create inclusive and positive climates through their research, teaching, and/or service. These are the candidates Berkeley is most interested in hiring - individuals who know that true excellence in research and teaching requires an equitable and inclusive environment so that all members of the community can contribute, thrive, and belong.

Defining diversity, equity, and inclusion

Diversity: The variety of personal experiences, values, and worldviews that arise from differences of culture and circumstance. Such differences include race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, language, abilities/disabilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, and geographic region, and more (from UC Regents Policy 4400). Many institutions of higher education focus on groups that have traditionally been underrepresented in top tier research institutions, including women and certain minority groups (including African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans).

Equity: As opposed to equality, where everyone receives the same support regardless of circumstance, equity focuses on fair treatment, and access to supports and opportunities necessary for advancement and success. Equity acknowledges structural issues and barriers such as racism, sexism, homophobia, bullying, and harassment that have prevented the full participation of individuals from marginalized groups.

Inclusion: The proactive effort through personal actions, programs, and policies to ensure that all individuals feel welcome, respected, supported, and valued, and to identify and address situations in which this is not the case (see the UC Berkeley Strategic Plan for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity for more information).

Advancing equity and inclusion is fundamental to our UC Berkeley Principles of Community, which states that “every member of the UC Berkeley community has a role in sustaining a safe, caring and humane environment in which these values can thrive,” and the University of California policy on diversity, which states that, “The University particularly acknowledges the acute need to remove barriers to the recruitment, retention, and advancement of talented students, faculty, and staff from historically excluded populations who are currently underrepresented.”

Search committee composition

Select a search committee chair and faculty members who are actively committed to advancing equity and inclusion at Berkeley. Having diverse demographic representation is also important, including women and underrepresented minorities.

Graduate students should also participate actively in the search process, with one or more serving as a member of the committee. Practices vary as to whether or not the graduate student is a voting member of the committee (if committee votes are taken) and if he/she has
access to letters of recommendation. It is strongly advised that a graduate student member not be an advisee of one of the faculty search committee members.

Job description/advertisement/outreach

Suggested language for job advertisements: Job descriptions that state a broad range of academic areas typically yield a richer, more diverse pool of candidates. Departments can signal their interest in candidates who value diversity, equity, and inclusion by adding language to the job advertisement, such as:

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core values at UC Berkeley and [department X]. Our excellence can only be fully realized by faculty, students, and staff who share our commitment to these values. Successful candidates for our faculty positions will demonstrate evidence of a commitment to advancing equity and inclusion.”

We strongly suggest that this kind of language be placed early in the advertisement, and integrated with the description of the position, rather than being a standalone item.

Suggested outreach efforts: In addition to placing the advertisement in a wide range of locations designed to reach all interested and qualified applicants, conduct personal outreach to identify strong candidates who would also make valuable contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion (refer to the 'Outreach & Advertising' section of the Senate Search Guide for ideas). Sending a standard letter to dozens (or more) department chairs at peer institutions is not typically successful. Identifying individuals with stellar records and contacting them personally via email or phone to encourage them to apply (without promising an interview or position) is effective.

Application requirements

Requiring a statement on diversity, equity, and inclusion from all applicants indicates that the department is interested and committed to this area, which can be particularly important for candidates who want to join an institution that shares their values in this area. That said, some committees opt to review the statements in detail at a later stage in the search process, for example with the smaller group under serious consideration (“the long list”). At a minimum, search committees should thoroughly evaluate applicants prior to recommending a short list of candidates for campus visits.

Suggested language for application instructions:Please submit a 2 - 3 page statement on your contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion, including information about your understanding of these issues, your record of activities to date, and your specific plans and goals for advancing equity and inclusion if hired as a Berkeley faculty member (for additional information go to https://ofew.berkeley.edu/recruitment/contributions-diversity).”

Example areas of evidence for demonstrating contributions to advancing equity and inclusion

Knowledge and understanding:

  • Knowledge of, experience with, and interest in dimensions of diversity that result from different identities, such as ethnic, socioeconomic, racial, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and cultural differences.

  • Familiarity with demographic data related to diversity in higher education.

  • Understanding of the challenges faced by underrepresented individuals, and the need to identify and eliminate barriers to their full and equitable participation and advancement.
  • Comfort discussing diversity-related issues.

  • Understanding of mentorship power dynamics and personal-professional boundaries between faculty and students.
  • Understanding of the impact of bullying, microaggressions, and harrassment.

Teaching:

  • Strategies to create inclusive and welcoming teaching environments for all underrepresented students.

  • Strategies to encourage both critical thinking and respectful dialogue in the classroom.
  • Using new pedagogies and classroom strategies to advance equity and inclusion.

Research:

  • Strategies for promoting inclusive and respectful research environments.

  • Mentoring and supporting the advancement and professional development of underrepresented students or postdocs.

  • Structuring the research and advising environment to be inclusive, respectful, and accountable.
  • Research focused on underserved communities.

Service/professional activities:

  • Outreach activities designed to remove barriers and to increase the participation of individuals from underrepresented groups.

  • Workshops and activities that help build multicultural competencies and create inclusive climates.

  • Supporting student organizations that serve underrepresented groups.

  • Participation with professional or scientific associations or meetings that aim to increase diversity or address the needs of underrepresented students.

  • Serving on university or college committees related to equity and inclusion, or preventing sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Rating criteria

  1. Awareness of and ability to articulate understanding regarding diversity broadly conceived, and historical, social, and economic factors that influence the underrepresentation of particular groups in academia. Life experience may be an important aspect of this understanding.
  2. A track record, calibrated to career stage, of engagement and activity on diversity, equity, inclusion, and creation of a respectful community. Demonstration requires specific details about these activities, including goals, strategies, and outcomes, as well as information about the role played. Strong evidence typically consists of multiple examples of action from undergraduate through graduate (and postdoctoral if relevant) studies.
  3. Specific, concrete goals, plans, and priorities, calibrated to career stage, for engagement on diversity, equity, and inclusion as a potential faculty member at UC Berkeley. Ideally these plans involve an understanding of current programs and initiatives already taking place on campus.

Candidate evaluation

Evaluate candidates’ potential to contribute to diversity, equity, and inclusion at multiple points during the search process.

1. As part of the initial application

Create a rating system based on the overall selection criteria for the search to assess each candidate in the areas of research, teaching, and service, with consideration for advancing equity and inclusion and contributing to a positive campus climate as part of one or more of the areas. Rather than using an overall, “holistic” scoring system, such as 1 = interview, 2 = discuss, and 3 = do not interview, which tends to be subjective and prone to the influence of unconscious bias, create a points system for each of the major selection criteria. A candidate evaluation tool for faculty searches can be found here. A rubric specifically for assessing candidate contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion can be found here.

Consider creating a cut-off score for advancing equity and inclusion, below which a candidate would not move forward in the search process (would be considered “below the bar”), regardless of their scores in other areas, similar to what would be done for research quality or plans. For example, if 5 points are given for various components of advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (e.g., understanding 5 points, track record 5 points, and plans 5 points), assign a value below which a candidate would not be considered competitive and would not move forward regardless of their scores in other areas (e.g., any single 0 or 1 out of 5 would disqualify a candidate from further consideration). Set a high bar.

Norming/calibration: Prior to reviewing any applications individually, pull a sample of approximately five research statements/job talk papers, teaching statements, and diversity, equity, and inclusion statements. Have all search committee members independently score the materials, and discuss norming and calibration as a committee. For example, if the top value in a category is five, what does a level 2 statement look like? What about a 3? And a 5? Aim for consistency in evaluation within and across committee members’ scores.

Guarding against unconscious bias: Take care not to inadvertently hold differing expectations for different groups when evaluating diversity, equity, and inclusion. All candidates should be held to the same standard and expectations. For example, individuals from certain groups should not be assumed to “naturally” contribute more in this area, nor should other candidates be praised for doing what is actually less than others, or international candidates evaluated more cautiously. There can also be a tendency to rationalize an anemic record in advancing equity and inclusion if the candidate’s research is stellar. Excuses may include stating that the candidate just hasn’t had a chance to do anything yet, that the institution they’re at doesn’t provide opportunities for this kind of work, or that when the person comes to Berkeley “where it matters” they will begin engaging. We are looking for candidates who have already developed a commitment to advancing equity and inclusion, and have a consequential track record in this area.

Taking into account context: Candidate career stage is an important consideration, similar to when a search is open to both assistant and associate professors, and level of research accomplishment varies. The expectations for someone who is already an assistant professor, or tenured, at another institution should be much higher for the track record of work, and plans and goals. However, even current doctoral students who are strong candidates for Berkeley positions will show a record of activities advancing equity and inclusion while an undergraduate and graduate student.

The context of candidates’ stated life experiences can also be a consideration when evaluating their contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion. However, at no time in the evaluation process can a particular demographic characteristic (e.g, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, etc.) be used as the reason to move a candidate forward for further consideration. 

Strong versus weak written statements

Strong statements:

  • Tend to be substantial in length (e.g., 2 - 3 pages)

  • Clearly address all three criteria: Understanding, track record, and plans

  • Demonstrate sophisticated thinking about the underrepresentation of groups in academia and structural barriers to success (e.g., racism, sexism, homophobia, etc)

  • Provide detailed information about activities, including their specific role in the activity and the outcomes

  • Typically contain descriptions of multiple efforts rather than only one or two

  • Have an established track record going back many years

  • Provide clear and convincing evidence of how they would contribute at Berkeley

  • Reference activities or programs currently taking place at Berkeley and how they would become involved or fill other needs

Weak statements:

  • Tend to be brief in length

  • Are often vague (e.g., “diversity is important for the success of science”)

  • Describe participating in few activities

  • Participated only peripherally in activities

  • Show only a simplistic understanding of equity and inclusion issues

  • Describe efforts to be undertaken that are generally already expected of faculty (e.g., being welcoming to all students, making the classroom a positive environment, having women among advisees, etc)

  • Expecting Berkeley to provide opportunities for the candidate to get involved rather than proposing activities or programs

 

2. As part of the campus visit

The campus visit is an important opportunity to learn more from the finalists about their commitment to advancing equity and inclusion, and to share information about the department’s commitment as well. What is provided in a written statement is often not sufficient to make a fully informed judgement about the candidate, the same as is the case with assessing research and scholarly contributions and plans.

Options to share the department/college/campus commitment:

  • Discuss the variety of programs currently taking place in the department and/or college to advance equity and inclusion.

  • Share information about the Division of Equity and Inclusion

  • Discuss the UC Berkeley Principles of Community

Options for assessment:

  • Ask candidates to give a talk about their record and plans for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. This can be part of the research presentation/job talk/chalk talk, or as a standalone presentation. Use a Google Form to collect feedback on each candidate from graduate students and faculty.

    • Sample language to send to candidates before the campus visit: “As part of your interview, you will have the opportunity to learn more about the department/college’s commitment to advancing equity and inclusion, and to discuss your own vision for how you propose to contribute to these efforts. Please be prepared to share any prior experience and concrete ideas that you have for: developing your understanding of diversity-related issues; creating inclusive learning environments; outreach activities; and supporting underrepresented students, staff, and faculty.”

  • Include interview questions on equity and inclusion as part of the candidate interviews. Some questions to consider:

    • What types of experience do you have related to equity and inclusion?

    • The University is committed to building a culturally diverse and inclusive environment. How would you help to further this goal?
    • What specific ideas do you have for how you would like to contribute to advancing equity and inclusion at UC Berkeley?
    • What experience do you have working with people who have a different background than you?

    • How do you plan to be an effective mentor and create and inclusive research climate for your research group?

    • What strategies are you familiar with or do you use to create inclusive teaching environments?

Role of department equity advisors

Equity Advisors can serve as an excellent resource for search committees, including:

  • Ideas for proactive, personal outreach

  • Advising on the rating/evaluation plan for all candidates

  • Interviewing short list candidates during the campus visit

  • Providing a written summary of each finalist’s potential to contribute to equity and inclusion, based on both the evaluation of the Statement on Contributions to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, as well as the campus visit and in-person meeting.

See https://ofew.berkeley.edu/recruitment/equity-advisor-roles-faculty-searches for more information on the role of Equity Advisors in faculty searches

Role of graduate students

Graduate students should play a central role in the faculty search process, including:

  • The creation of a graduate student committee, with one member serving on the search committee

  • Clear expectations to all graduate students regarding what kind of feedback they will be asked to provide, and how that feedback will be used by the search committee

  • Invitations to all graduate students to attend job talks, have an opportunity to meet with each finalist as part of a meal (as a group), and to submit individual written feedback via a Google Form after each campus visit is complete.

  • The graduate student committee can collect feedback from all students and present a written summary to the search committee on behalf of the graduate student body regarding each of the finalists, as well as a recommendation of a proposed candidate.

  • All graduate students participating in evaluating candidates should receive information about the selection criteria being used by the committee, including norming/calibration.

Additional resources for search committees

Additional resources for search committees