New Paradigms for Diversifying Faculty and Staff in Higher Education: Uncovering Cultural Biases in the Search and Hiring Process
Author(s): Kayes, Pauline E.
Source: Multicultural Education, v14 n2 p65-69 Win 2006.
In the last ten years, many colleges, universities, boards, and agencies have jumped on the diverse faculty/staff hiring bandwagon not only by issuing resolutions, policies, and mandates but also by inventing programs, initiatives, and strategies all intended to increase the number of faculty and staff of color in predominantly White institutions. The statistics illustrate the results: 80-90% of faculty and staff in most colleges and universities are still White. Why, despite the best intentions, are most of these programs and policies failing to increase faculty/staff diversity? Unfortunately what is often overlooked in the diverse hiring conundrum is the crucial role that both search committees and institutional culture play in the recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and staff at predominantly White colleges and universities. It has been assumed that those who serve on search committees prioritize diverse hiring when in reality many have never even discussed, let alone agreed upon, the institutional and departmental advantages of a diverse faculty and staff. This author contends that, if predominantly White colleges and universities are serious about their commitment to faculty/staff diversity, if they want to move from empty rhetoric to real action and progress that changes statistics and transforms institutional culture, they must make a concerted effort to educate everyone who serves on their search committees. Although search committees are only one part of the diverse hiring picture, diversification of faculty and staff at U.S. colleges and universities can not occur without their eyes being opened to the various biases, assumptions, and stereotypes that influence their perceptions, judgments, and decisions. More importantly, inclusive educational cultures that retain diverse students and employees can not be created without knowledge and skills in intercultural competence. Given the rapidly changing demographics affecting colleges and universities, it is imperative that predominantly White institutions recognize now the serious repercussions of a monocultural faculty/staff serving a multicultural student body and support their employees in moving from minimization of cultural differences to acceptance and adaptation so that predominantly White search committees selecting diverse candidates will no longer be an oxymoron.