Coming into the school year last fall, based on the social revolution happening across the country, I knew there would be a heightened sense of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) on campus. I was more than ready to jump in and continue to educate myself in this area.
However, at first I was not exactly sure where to begin. So, the first step I took was a pretty obvious one in deciding to participate in webinars and trainings. And luckily, there were many opportunities to do so. Several departments right on our campus at William Paterson University offered trainings. Other professional organizations such as NIRSA hosted a variety of programs as well. Another approach I took was reading books and articles as well as listening to podcasts, a number of which were recommended in the aforementioned trainings.
Many of the diversity trainings I participated in were well executed with fascinating speakers, interesting perspectives and the opportunity to engage in open dialogue with so many coworkers and other recreation professionals. After spending time exploring this area and attempting to become more aware, I truly felt that I learned a lot.
EXTRA CREDIT: Sophia Marshall of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte shares three EDI initiatives University Recreation is focusing on.
However, there was still something missing. I still was not clear on how to go about applying this new knowledge to my work. I had learned the what and the why but was still working on the how. My understanding of what has happened in the past and why EDI are necessary and important was better, especially in regard to the student experience on campus. But my next step was to figure out a way to bring all I had learned to life.
I went back to rewatch a few trainings, reread some articles and book chapters, and combed through all of the notes I had written. In doing so, I have some actionable steps for implementing EDI practices into the work of a recreation professional.
One of the themes that often popped up in my research was around hiring practices. I thought this was particularly relevant for the time as I have been seeing more job postings popping up again after a relatively quiet year as far as job openings within the recreation field during the pandemic. Some of the tips I picked up are as follows:
Request Blind Resumes
In order to organize and track applications or to have the contact information needed to set up an interview, you will need the applicant’s personal information, including their name.
However, resumes do not have to be sent directly to the hiring manager. Consider having candidates apply through the university’s human resources department. Or, have them email their resumes and cover letters to someone other than the hiring manager. This could be an administrative assistant or professional staff member who will not be taking part in the hiring decision.
EXTRA CREDIT: Ken Maxey, the fitness center manager, shares on what hiring for the fall of 2021 at CSU Fullerton has looked like amidst a pandemic.
Removing personal information from a resume, such as the name and address of the applicant, before forwarding to the hiring manager can remove the kind of information which might give away a person’s race or ethnicity. This allows for decision makers to set up interviews based solely on qualifications. It can lead to the hiring of more diverse talent.
Diverse Interview Panels
If your hiring practices only allow for one person to oversee the interview process and hiring decisions, consider adding interview panels into the process. This may slow the process a bit. However, the benefit of ensuring equitable hiring practices outweighs the downside of adding more steps to the process. Assembling a diverse interview panel will create consistency in the interview. It will ensure the same questions are asked to each candidate. Plus, it will provide accountability when it comes to thinking about and commenting on individual candidates.
Set Departmental Goals
Putting EDI practices into your department’s operating procedures should be about more than just filling quotas and checking boxes.
Mandatory quotas and checked boxes don’t always come from a bad place. I believe they have crept into our culture because higher education is often so data driven. It’s how we measure our success. But filling a quota for EDI may not necessarily be what is best for your department. It alone does not ensure we are hiring the best candidate for a certain position.
A different way to go about it is to set aspirational goals. An example of these goals might look like this:
- Are we attracting a diverse talent pool?
- Are we hiring at or above representation?
Once you set these goals or targets, you can measure your practices and make changes. For example, if you determine you are not attracting a diverse talent pool in the first place, you now have the opportunity to change some of your recruiting practices.
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