Five Tips to Help Recruit a Diverse Workforce in Higher Education

higher education, diverse workforce, Jamie Piperato

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Institutions of higher education benefit from employing a diverse population (Avery & McKay, 2006); however, many institutions that consist of predominantly White culture (a phrase used by Dr. Vijay Pendakur) lack a diverse* faculty and staff workforce. So the question is, “How can institutions create inclusive hiring practices to ensure the hiring of diverse populations?” Check out the five tips listed below that can help your institution dramatically increase the inclusiveness of your hiring process!

1. Assess, Assess, Assess

Before you jump into action, it is always important to assess the current practices at an institution so that a baseline can be determined. To do this, institutions should look at the current demographic makeup of its’ workforce to gauge a base of who is highly represented and more importantly who isn’t represented! Then, the institution can hold focus groups that allow new hires to speak freely about the job search process’ strengths and areas of needed improvement. Providing a survey to both hired and/or finalists may also be beneficial to an institution. In addition, collecting data from the individuals who serve on the search committees could aide in the assessment. The institution should seek to answer questions such as “Do we know why candidates decline employment opportunities? Do we know what areas we need to work on in order to provide an inclusive experience for candidates?” The first step is to collect this information!

2. Build cultural competency standards into hiring process 

Krumrie (n.d.) states that organizations should define what “diverse” means to them and then create a training that incorporates cultural competencies into the hiring process. This is an excellent practice that helps create an inclusive hiring process. Professionals should focus on identifying bias and barriers for diverse applicants, train employees to identify the appearance of these biases and barriers, and then create a process to make the necessary changes to eliminate the barriers.

Personally, I have served on numerous search committees during my career and I can only remember one scenario when we discussed the unconscious biases and barriers that may be present during the search for both candidate and current employees. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of making these barriers visible by discussing them from the start of the search.

3. Utilize resources that/who are connected to underrepresented communities

Krumrie reported that “…65% to 75% of jobs in the United states are filled through employee referrals, or networking.” These numbers alone allude to the importance of utilizing resources that are connected to underrepresented communities. Does your institution place job postings in resources such as Diverse Issues in Higher Education (, National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (, the Consortium for Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals (, or American Association of University Women (

Another aspect that is important in recruiting underrepresented populations is the inclusion of an equal employment opportunity (EO) statement in the job posting and advertisements (Avery & McKay, 2006). Institutions should ensure that their EO statement is inclusive of all identities including sexuality and gender identity and expression (which currently is not seen in all institutional statements).

4. Strengthen outreach through access

Institutions can increase the inclusiveness of their hiring process by strengthening its’ outreach process by expanding the opportunities for individuals to access job postings. For example, an institution that only utilizes the internet to advertise job postings will miss folks who may not have access to the internet. Institutions should strive to be creative in their outreach services.

5. Establish support services to retain employees

Once the above tips have been accomplished the next question that needs to be answered is whether or not an institution has the support services needed to retain it’s employees. Many institutions spend the money to recruit a diverse workforce but do not have the services in place to retain the employees after they arrive on campus.

Institutions must understand what folks are looking for when they are applying to a job. What type of culture are they looking for? What type of support services? Will they struggle implementing progressive programs for students? Are they experiencing acts of discrimination or bias during their employment? Institutions need to create a culture where people feel included and heard.

The above tips are expressed to create a foundation for institutions of higher education to establish an inclusive hiring process for underrepresented candidates. The benefits of having a diverse workforce have been proven. Institutions must do a better job in actively recruiting diverse populations. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Jamie Piperato at or use the contact form!

*”Diverse” is used in this post to symbolize the hiring of marginalized populations.


Avery, D. R., & McKay, P. F.  (2006). Target practice: An organizational impression management approach to attracting minority and female job applicants. Personnel Psychology, 59, 157-187.

Krumrie, M. (n.d.). The right way to incorporate diversity hiring goals and strategies. Retrieved from

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