Diversity in Faculty: Creating a Welcoming and Supportive Educational Environment for All Students
As educational institutions continue to evolve in key ways, the topics of diversity and inclusion are becoming more prioritized with each passing day. This is because, besides being a morally logical stance, promoting diversity and inclusion has been shown to benefit schools in several important ways.
In particular, diversifying school faculty can greatly improve school culture and convey the message to students that everyone is welcome and included. Understanding the various benefits of this practice can make educational institutions more committed to diversifying their staff.
Here is how educational institutions can create a welcoming and supportive educational environment for all students with a diverse faculty.
Diverse Faculties Improve School Culture
School culture is a concept used to describe the general atmosphere of schools and includes things such as levels of safety on campus, levels of respect between individuals, and the general attitudes of teachers and staff. School culture can have a dramatic effect on students’ ability to thrive academically, making it an important factor to be mindful of for educational institutions.
Diverse faculties can help improve school culture in a number of ways. From increasing representation to creating a culture of inclusion, a diverse faculty can be a key aspect of crafting a more robust learning environment for students. This being the case, schools can greatly improve their school culture by putting time and effort into cultivating a diverse faculty.
How a Diverse Faculty Impacts Students
An important aspect of creating an educational space where all students feel welcome and included is having a diverse faculty. When students are able to see themselves represented in faculty, they are more likely to feel like they are somewhere they’re accepted. Conversely, when students don’t see themselves represented in their educational institution’s faculty, it may be more difficult to feel a sense of belonging.
Matters can be made even worse for students who don’t see themselves represented in faculty when they don’t feel substantially represented in the study body either. As such, having a diverse faculty allows educational institutions to ensure that even students from minority or marginalized groups still feel welcome and included in their educational settings.
In addition to helping students feel welcome, diverse faculties can help encourage students from disparate backgrounds to apply themselves more wholeheartedly to their academic work. What this results in is greater academic success for students which can lead to more self-belief and confidence. This being the case, a diversified faculty can be seen as a way to improve the chances that students will thrive academically, build confidence, and feel more prepared for stepping into their professional lives in the future.
How Diverse Faculties Can Combat Microaggressions and Biases
Though many people may believe that they are treating everyone equally, the disheartening truth is that many people unknowingly harbor biases and may act out in microaggressions toward certain people from certain groups. When it comes to studying in a school, experiencing these biases and microaggressions can have a negative impact on students’ self-esteem, self-confidence, and academic success. As such, educational institutions of all types can improve their school culture for students by being proactive about eradicating these behaviors in students and staff completely.
Fortunately, having a diverse school faculty is actually one of the most effective ways to combat microaggressions and biases in schools. When faculties are made up of diverse individuals from a range of backgrounds, they’ll begin to have a noticeable effect on the atmosphere of the school. In particular, biases and microaggressions won’t be tolerated, making the atmosphere more inviting and conducive to success for students.
Best Recruiting Practices for Cultivating a Diverse Faculty
While many educational institutions may be intent on cultivating a diverse faculty, it can be tricky to know where to begin. Thankfully, being exposed to some key tips can make the process more accessible.
Here are the best recruiting practices for cultivating a diverse faculty.
Seek Out Diverse Talent
While it would be nice if diverse talent came seeking out each educational institution, the truth is this won’t always be the case. As such, schools that are intent on cultivating a diverse faculty must actively seek out diverse candidates. Some key places to look for diverse faculty can be graduating classes from diverse higher education programs as well as staff at other diverse institutions. The more proactive one’s school is about seeking out diverse faculty members, the more successful one will be in finding diverse talent.
Create an Inclusive Environment
While some school leadership may be intent on diversifying faculty, this alone may not be enough to create a truly welcoming environment for diverse faculty members. In order to attract diverse talent, creating a welcoming environment for individuals from all backgrounds is key. This can include efforts such as requiring all current faculty to take cultural competency courses and being mindful of various cultural holidays. The more welcoming of an environment one’s school is able to create, the easier it will be to attract and retain diverse talent in one’s faculty.
Diversify Those In Charge of Recruiting and Hiring
Though it may seem obvious, one key tactic that many schools fail to take advantage of when diversifying faculty is creating a diverse recruiting and hiring team. As has been noted, some people may harbor unconscious biases which can unknowingly cloud their judgment and inform their actions.
This is dishearteningly common in hiring practices, with many individuals from marginalized groups typically experiencing less success in landing jobs than their equally qualified counterparts from non-marginalized groups. This being the case, a diverse recruiting and hiring committee can ensure that one’s school doesn’t engage in these practices and allows all individuals a fair chance of landing a role.
Diverse Faculties Are Becoming the Norm
While a diverse faculty used to stand out in schools and higher education institutions, today, it is becoming a more normalized aspect of the educational landscape. Diverse faculties are helping schools craft a more welcoming learning environment for students from all backgrounds and bringing a number of other benefits as well. As time progresses, it’s more than likely that diverse faculties will become the norm in education and all schools will benefit by becoming more inclusive environments that stimulate excitement in students and help them achieve academic and professional success.