Where Do DEI Statements Stand in the Hiring Process? - Senior Executive

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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in Hiring and Recruiting

Where Do DEI Statements Stand in the Hiring Process?

In the wake of the Supreme Court's recent ruling on affirmative action, some universities no longer require a DEI personal statement on job applications. DEI leaders at three organizations share their take.

by Taylor Odisho on August 28, 2023


  • Arizona Board of Regents voted to eliminate the requirement of DEI statements on job applications.

  • While some companies continue to require all candidates to submit DEIB statements, other organizations have opted to make it an optional part of the hiring process.

  • 86% of job seekers consider a company’s approach to DEI, such as opting to include a DEI statement in their job listing and on applications, as an important factor when considering a company.

The most recent example of college and university administrators grappling with the ripple effects of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down affirmative action is the Arizona Board of Regents voting to eliminate the requirement of DEI statements on job applications for public university job postings. The University of Wisconsin and the University of Missouri systems have done the same.

To understand whether this is trending across academia, Senior Executive DEI spoke with DEI practitioners at Syracuse University, a private university in New York, the University of California, Berkeley, and Dartmouth Health, a healthcare system affiliated with Dartmouth College, a private Ivy League university in New Hampshire.

Terri Malcolm, VP of DEIB at Dartmouth Health and Senior Executive DEI Think Tank member, shared in an April Q&A that the healthcare system requires all candidates to submit DEIB statements. This requirement, among other measurements such as inclusive job listings and a blind interview process, is why Malcolm believes Dartmouth Health has a more diverse candidate pool, adding “candidates specifically shared it was because of our personal statement and the request for candidates to submit a DEIB statement.” Despite recent developments, Malcolm doubled down on DEI statements in job listings and on job applications, adding, “Our DEIB statement continues to be an integral part of the talent acquisition cycle… Research shows DEI statements impact how candidates feel about a job posting or the organization.”

One example of such research is from online employment website Monster, which found that 86% of job seekers consider a company’s approach to DEI, such as opting to include a DEI statement in their job listing and on applications, as an important factor when considering a company. Both Gen Z and Millennials consider this a top value they look for in future employers.

Meanwhile, at UC Berkeley, although DEI statements aren’t required on job applications or in postings, its administrators emphasized that they use multiple data points to assess contributions to DEIB when interviewing for roles at the supervisor and manager levels at the university.

“In addition to candidate DEIB statements…groups of doctoral students typically ask questions on this topic during the campus visits, many departments have the department faculty equity advisor meet with all finalists, and DEIB is raised when finalists meet with the committee, department chair, and others,” says Sharon Inkelas, the associate vice provost for the faculty.

Inkelas adds that UC Berkeley recommends that “hiring units ask applicants to integrate DEIB into the expectations for the research statement, teaching statement, service statement, and assess how DEIB pertains specifically to each component of the faculty job.” She also suggests:

  • Asking candidates to give a talk about their record and plans for advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. 
  • Using a Google Form to collect feedback on each candidate from graduate students and faculty.
  • Sending an itinerary ahead of a candidate’s campus visit. For example: “As part of your interview, you will have the opportunity to learn more about the department/college’s commitment to advancing equity and inclusion and to discuss your own vision for how you propose to contribute to these efforts. Please be prepared to share any prior experience and concrete ideas that you have for: developing your understanding of diversity-related issues; creating inclusive learning environments; outreach activities; and supporting underrepresented students, staff, and faculty.”

During interviews for roles in equity and inclusion, Inkelas proposes asking the following questions:

  • What types of experience do you have related to equity and inclusion?
  • The university is committed to building a culturally diverse and inclusive environment. How would you help to further this goal?
  • What specific ideas do you have for how you would like to contribute to advancing equity and inclusion at UC Berkeley?
  • What experience do you have working with people who have a different background than you?
  • How do you plan to be an effective mentor and create and inclusive research climate for your research group?
  • What strategies are you familiar with or do you use to create inclusive teaching environments?

Mary Grace Almandrez, VP for diversity and inclusion at Syracuse University, also says requesting DEIA statements isn’t a requirement during hiring. Instead, the decision is left up to the departments and units across the schools and colleges at the university. To attract and hire diverse applicants, Almandrez shares the university’s search committees are “diverse in discipline and diverse in perspective.”

“Astute candidates will want to speak to who’s in the room. If you have a student, for example, from the Black Student Union or someone who does DEIA learning, usually candidates will want to frame their responses based on who is in the room,” Almandrez says. 

Other indicators of an organization’s commitment to DEI are inclusive and welcoming job descriptions, an accommodating interview schedule, and diverse interview panels.  

“If [potential employees] are meeting with students, if they’re meeting with faculty outside the department, if they’re meeting with the diversity council — these are signals to the candidate that it’s impossible not to talk about DEIA,” Almandrez says. 

While there are data and polls that show candidates view organizations that include a DEI statement as more inclusive and fair, professors remain split. In a poll of 1,500 professors, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression found that 50% of respondents viewed DEI statements as a “justifiable requirement” while the other half agreed that they are “an ideological litmus test that violates academic freedom.” 

As long as the choice to decide whether you include DEI statements on job applications remains yours and remains legal, it’s up to you and your team to decide what’s best for your organization.

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