A. Search Committee Composition
Members of search committees must include gender and racial/ethnic representation. Representation may be obtained in several different ways: students, members of other departments, members of local businesses, etc. (Source: Current UNL IEC gender/racial/ethnic guidelines; Suggestions from University of Michigan Search Guidelines).
- Search committees should include members with different perspectives and expertise, and with a demonstrated commitment to diversity.
- Note, that women and minorities are often asked to do significantly more service than majority males, so it is important to keep track of their service load, free them from less significant service tasks, and/or compensate them in other ways.
- The inclusion of trained students or external committee members may be helpful additions by asking questions to help committee members test their thinking, identifying and promoting practices that advance diversity and social justice, and minimizing the impacts of cognitive and structural biases and advocating to explore assumptions, norms, and practices that an internal member might not question. For more information, see the Oregon State University Search Advocate guidelines: https://searchadvocate.oregonstate.edu/
- Similarly, all hiring officials and search committee members should be aware of the underrepresentation that exists in their school or department. This may require updated statistics related to the UNL Affirmative Action Plan or the establishment of such statistics to accurately prepare search committee members, as is seen in protocols of the University of California Irvine: http://www.oeod.uci.edu/files/pdf/search_guidelines.pdf Also, see item C below.
B. Search Committee Training
All members of the search committee, including the hiring official, chair and members, must have current search committee certification. In addition, any persons who will have contact with candidates must complete the search committee training. For more information on certification and available training seminars, visit: https://www.unl.edu/equity/seminars.shtml.
C. Charge to the Search Committee
After deliberations with departmental faculty and staff, the Hiring Official should provide the search committee with its formal charge in writing. Example of a search committee charge statement is provided at: https://go.unl.edu/searchcommitteecharge.
- The charge should include a goal related to diversity and inclusion. And the development of a recruitment plan for the search with a focus on diverse applicant pools and diverse hiring.
- The charge should include a confidential review of past departmental searches with respect to diversity and inclusion (e.g. composition of applicant pool, etc.). Identify what has worked in the past and what has not. Why didn’t it work? Talk about ways to increase diversity in the applicant pool. Why have we not drawn/attracted/hired more diverse candidates in our previous searches? For this search what might we do differently to improve diverse outcomes? The intent is to educate and encourage discussion, to look at ways to address diversity in your unit. This is not meant for the committee to try to identify specific candidates. Departments should request statistics on their past searches as specified in Item A above.
- All members of the search committee must be able to voice their opinions without fear of reprisal or retribution. Power and authority relationships within search committees should be recognized and mechanisms put in place to mitigate them. Each member’s opinion is valuable. The Executive Vice Chancellor TIPSHEET on Inclusive Meetings provides helpful information on how to ensure inclusive meeting facilitation: https://executivevc.unl.edu/faculty/leadership-development/tipsheets/inclusive-meetings and https://hr.unl.edu/employment/toolbox/
- Committee members who feel their opinion is not being valued should speak with the search committee chair or hiring official. If this is not an option, the committee member may contact Institutional Equity and Compliance.
D. Non-faculty Employees:
Non-tenured/tenure track faculty and staff may also be affected by a new hire. A mechanism should be in place to allow them to voice their opinions regarding their assessment of the needs of the department without fear of reprisal or retribution.
E. Unconscious Bias and Stereotypes
Search Committee members should attend the BRIDGE training specifically designed to facilitate the use of recommendations contained in this document. Other training opportunities include: "OUCH! That Stereotype Hurts” (https://canvas.unl.edu/courses/38028). Also, the Implicit Association Test (IAT) used by Project Implicit (https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/education.html) can be used to help committee members learn of areas where implicit biases may be influencing perceptions and decision making.
F. Conflicts of Interest
Are members of the search committee free of conflicts of interests? Search committees should have a plan for responding should any conflicts of interest arise during the search and hiring processes. Special care should be taken when the pool includes applicants already involved in the department or unit. The appearance of conflicts of interest in the hiring process can also be problematic to the search process. Any real or perceived conflict of interest should be discussed with the search chair with recusal from participation and deliberation of candidates as determined appropriate. Add language about communicating with search chair and recusing yourself from participation and deliberation of certain candidates.
Members of the search committee will treat conversations regarding applicants and decisions to interview or hire as confidential. For, example conversations about an applicant’s file and decision about that applicant’s status in the process should occur with members of the search committee or where appropriate with the hiring official.