Op7.10 Recruiting a Diverse Workforce: Guidelines for Hiring Faculty, Academic Administrators and Executive, Administrative and Professional Staff
Diversity is central to providing and retaining a quality educational environment. Missouri State University is deeply committed to developing educated persons equipped to contribute to the interdependent world in which we now live. The ability to adapt to rapid economic, social, and cultural changes is imperative. Skills and competencies to deal with diverse cultures and societies have not only become necessary to function in today’s workplace, but they also enrich one’s life and work.
Diversity is comprised of the multiplicity of people, cultures, and ideas that contribute to the richness and variety of life. It encompasses a mixture of similarities and differences along dimensions including, but not limited to, values, cultures, concepts, learning styles, and perceptions that individuals possess. Some aspects of diversity have been easily achieved, while others – including racial, ethnic, and in some disciplines gender diversity – have been more elusive and now require a focused effort. Diversity is a commitment to recognizing and appreciating the variety of characteristics that make individuals unique in an atmosphere that promotes inclusion.
Missouri State University recognizes the value diversity adds to our central mission. The University’s public commitment to diversity among our faculty, staff and students is reflected in our Public Affairs Mission, our Long-Range Planning, and our federally mandated Affirmative Action program. The implementation of this commitment and the demonstration of how we value diversity rests heavily on our ability to recruit and retain outstanding faculty and staff who not only excel in their fields, but who promote multicultural understanding through their teaching and leadership and who themselves are representative of the diverse population of our nation.
These search guidelines have been developed by the Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance to help search committees and hiring units conduct searches that both maximize their ability to establish a diverse and well qualified applicant pool, while complying with University guidelines and state and federal regulations.
2.0 Initiating the Search Process: The Search Committee
No committee on campus has a greater ability to make profound and substantive changes in a hiring unit than that of the search committee. Every member of the search committee should thoroughly understand the requirements of the position to be filled, the needs of the department, University policies regarding equal employment opportunity/affirmative action, and the mission of the University, department and/or college. The search committee has an excellent opportunity to enhance the reputation and image of the University through its actions. Always bear in mind that while a search committee is evaluating a candidate, the candidate is also evaluating the search committee, the department it represents and, ultimately, the University.
3.0 Developing a Recruitment and Outreach Plan
Developing the recruitment and outreach plan is one of the most vital aspects of the search process. Including a broad spectrum of strategies in the plan will yield a more diverse pool of qualified applicants. Advertising the position is much more than simply sending out a position announcement. Search committees and hiring units should research a wide range of possible recruitment strategies and then develop an advertising plan and a carefully worded position announcement.
A robust applicant pool is the most useful tool for recruiting highly qualified candidates who can further the University’s educational mission and goals. It also helps ensure that hiring units are recruiting diverse candidates, including candidates who are women and/or from underrepresented ethnic or racial groups, who can fulfill the University commitment to diversity. To achieve a diverse applicant pool, search committees and hiring units must be committed to diversity through action, a proactive approach to developing a diverse applicant pool. The search committee and hiring unit should not wait for applicants to come to them. Instead, the search committee should seek out the best journals, newspapers, associations and other networks in which to recruit. Keep seeking until the search is complete.
5.0 Screening Applicants
The screening process begins after the published deadline/date of first consideration with an analysis of application materials submitted by applicants in response to the announcement of an open position. The search committee is responsible for selecting the candidates for interview who meet all minimum requirements and are most qualified to fill the vacancy based on the stated requisite and desirable qualifications.
Hiring units and search committees must uniformly apply the evaluation process to all applicants. For criteria that are deemed to be essential components of the job, it is difficult, if not impossible, to explain why a certain criterion is necessary for successful job performance if there is a lack of consistency regarding that component within the hiring process. For example, if a search is challenged by a particular applicant, how can the hiring unit and Search committee prove that the applicant was not qualified for the position if his/her experience was not evaluated in the same manner as other applicants?
Reference checks can be conducted pre- or post-interview at the discretion of the hiring unit. Reference calls are required prior to extending an offer of employment. Department Approvers and/or Executive Approvers may determine when in the search process such calls must be completed and, in the event a reference cannot be reached, if adequate background information is known about a candidate to extend an offer. This flexibility is provided so that the search process is not delayed in the event a reference cannot be contacted. In most cases reference calls are made after the individual has been scheduled for an interview and before the negotiation of an offer, but the exact timing may vary.
The search committee is not obligated to contact every reference the candidate submits. Hiring units shall not ask for more references than they are willing to contact.
The University Application for Employment grants permission to conduct reference calls as part of the screening process; however, as a courtesy, the Department Approver and/or search committee shall contact the candidate prior to making reference calls. This is also an excellent strategy to let the candidate know they are still being seriously considered for the position. Candidates shall be asked if there is anyone they do not wish to be contacted at the present time. The Department Approver and search committee shall not contact any party who was identified unless that candidate becomes a finalist under consideration for hire. In that case, another call shall be made to the candidate, informing them that they are a finalist and previously excluded references will now be contacted. If the candidate continues to refuse permission to contact certain references, the Department Approver and search committee shall respect the candidate’s request, but may wish to reconsider the candidate’s status as a finalist or recommendation for hire.
The interview is an important opportunity for the hiring unit to communicate some key messages:
- The hiring unit is seriously interested in the candidate’s scholarly credentials and professional background;
- Missouri State University is a good place to come because it is intellectually lively, and committed to diversity in the faculty, staff and student body;
- The University is a good place to come because it has a variety of humane, family-friendly policies in place (i.e., dual-career assistance program, flex-time, etc.).
How these messages are communicated can make a critical difference in recruiting diverse employees to Missouri State University.
The search committee is charged with providing a list of the finalists’ strengths and weaknesses to the Department Approver. Evaluations from open forums and other search activities should also be provided to the Department Approver. In addition, if any questions remain about a finalist, these should be documented for the Department Approver.
Key considerations in making the hiring recommendation:
- Utilize a team interviewing process to prevent errors and omissions in screening applicants.
- Each search committee member should give his/her honest input on each candidate interviewed.
- Think broadly rather than narrowly about the types of experiences and/or skills each candidate might bring to Missouri State University.
- Avoid attempting to "clone" those already in the hiring unit. Doing so discourages diversity and prohibits the hiring unit from enjoying the many advantages that diversity and the varying perspectives can bring.
- Acknowledge that candidates with diverse paths and experiences can make positive contributions that have previously been untapped by the hiring unit, division, or University.
- Avoid falling victim to the "halo effect" that can occur when one positive aspect of a candidate’s talents or skills is inappropriately transferred to other aspects of her/his qualifications. The phenomena of racial, ethnic, and other forms of prejudice can be manifestations of the halo effect – avoid stereotyping on any grounds.
- Provide information regarding the finalists’ strengths and weaknesses to the Department Approver and Executive Approver based on advertised position requirements and substantive qualifications, including diversity objectives.
9.0 Exceptions to Standard Search Processes
In light of Missouri State University’s goal to diversify its employee population, it is the University's policy that the pool of applicants for all positions being filled at the University be as broad as possible and that all current employees have the opportunity to be considered for open positions for which they are qualified.
Missouri State University, in accordance with state and federal law and University policy, is committed to providing equal opportunity in employment through nondiscriminatory, open recruitment and hiring practices. Exceptions to these guidelines are therefore strongly discouraged. Occasionally, such factors as financial constraints, program continuity, or the existence of highly specialized qualifications and requirements for a particular position, require making an exception to the University’s normal employee recruitment and selection procedures. Exceptions to this policy may be granted by the President, based on a prior written request endorsed by the appropriate Executive Approver and reviewed by the Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance and the Office of Human Resources. Ordinarily, such requests will be based on documented evidence that qualified candidates are unlikely to be available through an open search, or that an extended search would risk negating a unique hiring opportunity.
Should an exception to standard search procedures be approved, the hiring unit will ordinarily use the same forms and processes as required for a regular hire with a full search. To the extent possible, all the requirements of a full search must be met. While it must be recognized that there are occasions when no search is feasible, whether because of timing, funding, or position duration, there will be other times when it makes sense to conduct a search that is merely shorter in duration or smaller in scope (local or regional rather than national, for example). In all cases, the criteria for selection of a candidate must be job-related and non-discriminatory.
Requests for exceptions or variances may be granted under the following circumstances:
Internal Searches - Under certain circumstances vacant positions may be filled through internal recruitment. The depth and breadth of the internal recruitment must be approved in advance by the appropriate Executive Approver, the Director of Human Resources, and the Equal Opportunity Officer. Therefore, the filling of all positions shall be accomplished through a process that includes announcement of the opening as widely as appropriate in terms of the level of duties and responsibilities of the position. Missouri State is committed to fostering promotional opportunities for its regular, full-time employees by conducting internal searches whenever consistent with the University’s public commitment to diversity, our Long-Range Planning, and the federally mandated Affirmative Action program. Regular full-time University employees can receive consideration in internal searches based on job-related qualifications as determined by the job description and position announcement.
Individuals not employed by the University on a full-time basis are not eligible to apply for positions posted with the statement "Internal posting for promotion and transfer consideration of full-time, regular University employees only." However, in rare cases of business necessity upon the recommendation of the Vice President of the area in which the vacancy is being posted and with the prior approvals of the Director of Human Resources and the University’s Equal Opportunity Officer, an individual not employed on a full-time basis may be allowed to apply.
Internal searches may not be appropriate when:
- No regular full-time employee is qualified for the vacancy, or
- The Department Approver requests an external search to fill the vacancy, or
- Diversity issues cause the policy to be inappropriate. Internal searches should not be conducted for faculty vacancies or for the positions of Vice President, Provost, or President.
The procedures for an internal search are the same as those for an external search, except that the open position is only advertised at the University. The screening, interviewing, and selection process and required documentation will follow the normal procedures for an external search.
Whenever an internal search is utilized to fill a vacancy, the resultant vacant position must be filled through an external search.
Business and/or Instructional Necessity - An exception to the standard search procedures may be requested when conducting a full search would negatively impact the operational effectiveness of a department/unit or would violate a formal contractual obligation of the University.
Qualified, Diverse Applicant Pool - An exception to the standard search procedures may be requested if a hiring unit has recently conducted a full search that yielded a diverse applicant pool.
Special Circumstances - There may be other special circumstances that justify abridging the standard hiring procedures when a full search is not in the best interests of the University i.e., an opportunity to utilize the Diversity Hiring Program.
10.0 Other Considerations
Line of Authority
Responsible administrator and office: Director, Office of Institutional Equity & Compliance
Contact person in that office: Director
Approved by President: June 24, 2019