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Keeping Equity and Inclusiveness at the Forefront of Hiring

The Office of Human Resources have developed a detailed toolkit and checklist to shepherd managers through an inclusive hiring process. 

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Jennifer Scott doesn’t expect people to be authorities on inclusive and equitable hiring when they leave the inclusive hiring training sessions.  

That’s why Scott, AU’s director of recruiting, and her colleagues in the Office of Human Resources have developed a detailed toolkit and checklist to shepherd managers through an inclusive hiring process.  

“We know when they leave the training, they’re not going to be full experts on the material,” Scott said. “We have supported them with references and resources to follow it up. When we look at inclusive excellence, it’s about fairness and equal access, and that’s what we’re trying to achieve.”  

Created in partnership with the HR, talent strategies team, the Inclusive Hiring Toolkit includes six brief modules which focus on the core steps of the hiring process. From creating an inclusive job description, equitable applicant review and interviewing, and inclusive onboarding The modules offer checklists and templates for measuring progress along the search. Any hiring manager on campus can request the training and has access to the Toolkit. The presentation draws from and aligns with the AU Plan for Inclusive Excellence.  

“It’s definitely important for communities to see themselves represented on campus, and we can’t do that with processes that aren’t equitable,” Scott said. “But it’s also important that we have diversity within the leadership teams on campus, and that’s an iceberg we’ve trying to crack at.”  

Amanda Taylor, assistant vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion added, “Inclusive hiring is not just about getting people in the door. It’s ensuring that our environment and the culture and policies at AU really allow all employees to thrive.”  

One of the components of the training offers tips on how to expand a pool of candidates. Scott said sometimes companies post job requirements that don't fully line up with the job duties, which can unfairly limit the pool of qualified applicants. A manager begins with a limited pool and a lack of diverse candidates. A human resources department posts open positions to a diverse section of job boards, and the training suggests niche-diversity focused job boards that may help with recruitment.  

Not all job candidates reach out to AU. Elizabeth Adams, Ready Hire coordinator for Human Resources, said the university is also taking an active role in building partnerships with organizations and being intentionally accessible to all qualified candidates. 

The HR Office has developed a relationship and shared openings with the DC Department of Disability Services Business Relations Unit, which works with employers by offering a variety of resources including technical assistance relating to reasonable accommodations and accessibility for the employee. 

The team also collaborates with Community Family Life Services, which works with women who are experiencing homelessness and domestic violence survivors, and The Arc, which works with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  

“It’s important to be in touch with them so they can share our opportunities and then, once we identify somebody, they’ll actually help us get any accommodations we may need,” Adams said.  

Once you've built a more diverse initial pool of candidates, there is still work to do to ensure fairness throughout the full hiring process, Taylor said. The training focuses on the evaluation and assessment of candidates—spots where unconscious bias and sometimes explicit bias take place.   

Scott said managers can mitigate any unfairness in the process by tracking the diversity of the pool during the process and by using the checklists in the toolkit. Scott said HR partners called diversity advocates or inclusion partners—she joked they haven’t settled on a name yet—are available to sit on search committees to help ensure an equitable and inclusive search.  

The HR team has also designed an inclusive hiring briefing to help campus hiring committees approach the process in a more comprehensive way. Prior to summer 2020, she received a briefing request about once per quarter. Once the conversation around the racial justice movement picked up, Scott said the requests for briefings also grew. She is now conducting briefings about once per week.  

“I really want committees to come out of our trainings with the resources and understanding the fundamentals of how to run an equitable search process,” Scott said. “I could look at data and say that we've hired more diverse people over the past few years, but we're constantly cycling in new managers. So, if I can have full departments really adhere to and know and execute the best practices and fundamentals, then that to me will be success.”