Building Belonging and Community Climate

Faculty retention increases when all members feel like a valued part of the community. Hiring units should create a culture that supports all faculty and staff members. This is the outcome of many small elements that, when integrated across their experience as a faculty, create an overall positive climate. Therefore, it pays dividends to attend to each of these elements over the long term.

Critical considerations for a positive community climate include:

  • Valuing diverse voices and intellectual diversity in the academic unit. In contrast, a dysfunctional culture ignores ideas from underrepresented faculty, only acting on those same ideas when someone else shares similar thoughts. Create an environment in which all voices are included, everyone is heard and acknowledged, and there is follow-through on suggestions.
  • Eliminating pay disparity within units in terms of gender and race across all positions and ranks.
  • Acknowledging the extreme pressure on an individual who is the single representative of a group within a unit. Avoiding implicit expectations for them to represent their entire group and aiming to diversify your faculty and staff in the future to avoid this imbalance.
  • Realizing the obvious presence an underrepresented faculty or staff member has in a meeting. For example, their absence from a faculty meeting may be more apparent; however, do not call them out in a manner inconsistent with the regular absence of other faculty or staff members.
  • Understanding that many underrepresented faculty or staff may have the impression they are held to higher standards and working to diffuse that impression.
  • Being intentional about including underrepresented faculty and staff in any regular unit-level awards or public accolades.
  • Creating and rewarding diversity and inclusion activities in the academic unit. These rewards need to be meaningfully related to annual evaluations and promotion. For example, include rewards for implementing approaches that enhance diversity and inclusion in:
    • Pedagogy practices in the classroom curricular development or revision
    • Undergraduate-to-postdoctoral mentoring/advising
    • Research group formation, proposal development, and publication teams that include members of minority or underrepresented groups
    • Extension/outreach activities with inclusion metrics of participation diversity. Even if those numbers are low, reporting the numbers raises awareness of its value