At many higher education institutions, conscious and unconscious prejudice has led to a lack of ethnic diversity among staff. Here are some steps that you can take to address this issue.
In 2020, The Guardian exposed a series of disappointing facts. According to the publication, “fewer than 1% of UK university professors are Black” and that “progress on employing more staff from ethnic minorities remains sluggish.”
It’s clear that not enough is being done at UK higher education institutions to increase the ethnic diversity of staff and similar trends of Eurocentrism and bias towards the white experience are seen in other countries.
In the US, a study by the Hispanic Journal of Law and Policy showed that “the number of Hispanic and Latino faculty members grew by less than 1% and the number of Black faculty members grew by only one-tenth of a percent” between the years 2013 to 2017.
Allowing prejudice to disrupt the hiring and promotion process of ethnic minority staff is not only detrimental to the advancement of your institution it also reduces the likelihood that you will find the most suitable staff for each position.
Those in positions of power at higher education institutions must consider what conscious and unconscious biases they may have, and examine how these biases impact their hiring choices.
So, what can your institution do to increase the ethnic diversity of its staff?
1. Set qualitative and quantitative goals
When it comes to increasing the ethnic diversity of staff at your institution, results should be evaluated by both their qualitative and quantitative value.
Achieving a higher proportion of ethnic minority staff at your institution is a good indication that your efforts to increase diversity are working and is therefore a great achievement.
However, diversity targets should also encompass many other elements, such as improving the personal experiences of ethnic minority staff, promoting their work, and removing barriers that prevent their promotion.
Diversity goals at your institution must therefore not only consider employment figures but all factors that may impact the overall wellbeing of staff who belong to groups who have been historically excluded.
2. Build a dedicated team
To achieve your diversity targets, assemble a team that is dedicated to diversifying the ethnicity of your staff. Doing so will help to maintain momentum and ensure diversity goals remain a key priority.
Members of your dedicated diversity board should understand the importance of ethnic diversity in higher education and be committed to achieving diversity targets.
They must be willing to confront their own internal biases, potentially by completing diversity training, and to volunteer their time to the cause.
3. Maintain momentum
Progress won’t happen overnight, and it may take years to achieve a state of diversity that your institution can then commit to maintaining.
In order to keep building on your progress, conduct quarterly and annual reviews to reflect on areas of strength and weakness in your diversity plan.
Continue to stress the importance of diversity at your institution and to check in with staff and students on whether their experiences are reflective of an inclusive work and study environment.
The goal is to incorporate diversity into the core values of your institution, ensuring all staff feel welcomed and that their work and wellbeing is a priority.
For a more in-depth look into the state of ethnic diversity in higher education, please see our free report: How to Prioritize the Ethnic Diversity of Staff at Higher Education Institutions.