EQUAL OPPORTUNITY, DIVERSITY, AND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY benefits both the institution and the individual. Equal opportunity benefits the institution because it furthers the goal of achieving the most qualified workforce possible, based on individual merit and qualifications and free of decision-making influenced by any bias, stereotype or narrow selection criteria. Equal opportunity benefits the individual because it allows that person to have a fair chance for participation within the institution based on their individual merit and promise.
DIVERSITY is an indicator of the institution’s success in providing equal opportunity for applicants and members of the community. There are compelling reasons for diversity in the institution, particularly with respect to faculty. The University’s Mission Statement affirms that, in preparing “citizens for an increasingly multicultural and multinational society, Fordham seeks to develop in its students an understanding of and reverence for cultures and ways of life other then their own.” This reinforces the value of faculty who, through their knowledge, experience and commitment, will contribute to the diversity of the University and thereby enhance the University community’s understanding and world experience. Increasing the capacity of the faculty to contribute to the diversity of the University enriches the depth and quality of the teaching and research experience offered to the student body through the various perspectives, scholarly interests and experiences of its faculty. A faculty with this capacity to further the University’s interest in diversity can also provide a pool of qualified and experienced mentors for the increasingly diverse student population in the New York metropolitan area.
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION is one strategy utilized to pursue the equal opportunity for individuals and diversity in the institution. It involves efforts to improve opportunities for women and members of minority groups. Fordham's Affirmative Action Program does not require the University either to reduce its standards or give preferential treatment which might lead to the hiring of a less qualified person over one more qualified. However, affirmative action does require an active recruitment and widening of the applicant pool to enhance the employment opportunities for members of underrepresented groups.
In a University of Michigan Law School admissions decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, diversity within the student population which was achieved through the individualized evaluation of each applicant’s ability to contribute to the diversity of the institution, was described as vital to the educational mission of the University. However, one of the questions raised, but not answered, by this decision was to what extent this analysis of diversity would apply in an employment context. Although the law is evolving with respect to appropriate practices and programs, the information below may provide some guidance in pursuit of excellence through diversity.
Aggressive efforts at outreach and recruitment to expand the pool of candidates are necessary and appropriate aspects of an overall diversity strategy. Therefore, the use of creative strategies to increase the diversity of the candidate pool should be undertaken. Recruitment sources are many and varied, including the use of women and minority resume registries, contacting the women and minority caucuses within traditional professional associations, advertising in special journals and newsletters that are aimed at women and minorities, utilizing the current faculty for recommendations, notifying other colleges and universities of vacant positions, advertising in one or more professional newsletters, direct recruitment at professional association conventions or conferences, and general publication advertising. (See attached listing of recruitment sources.) However, consistent with the analysis of diversity above, recruitment literature should make clear that all interested candidates are encouraged to apply and will be evaluated according to a holistic concept of diversity, i.e., not by the applicant's race or ethnicity standing alone, but by the relevant experience, skills, and commitment to contribute to the achievement of the diversity goals of the institution.
FACTORS IN EVALUATING CANDIDATES
A number of factors is involved in evaluating candidates, including education, teaching and research experience, publications, and sensitivity toward diversity goals. The Committee should carefully consider how the experience, commitment, and skills of each applicant can contribute to the academic excellence of the Department or School and the related attainment of its diversity goals. The following illustrates factors that can assist the search committee in evaluating candidates towards the goal of diversity:
What are the future needs of the Department or School and how does the position being sought affect those long-term needs? Excellence is the goal, therefore consider the various skills and interests of potential colleagues which can be developed and utilized to achieve excellence and diversity.
Consider a wide range of diversity attributes, not just race or national origin in isolation. Characteristics that are race-neutral can also contribute to the diversity of an educational environment, such as socioeconomic background, geography, special skills and talents, and unique life experiences.
Consider criteria that are non-race-based but can achieve the goal of diversity in the learning environment. For example, what pedagogical techniques would the candidate utilize in working with diverse colleagues and students? Does the candidate have unique expertise, experiences, or strengths that will contribute to the diversity of experience and learning for the students, to the breadth of knowledge, and to the commitment toward excellence?
Consider asking each “finalist” to prepare a personal statement concerning the role of diversity in the discipline and the profession, and how their experience, commitment and skills will contribute to the attainment of such diversity.
The best way to guard against disparate treatment of an individual is to ensure sound procedures and fairness in the process. Questions asked of candidates should be focused on ability, performance, and qualifications, and not on unlawful personal characteristics. (Attached is a guide to questions that are acceptable and those that are prohibited in the interviewing process).
RECORDKEEPING FOR FACULTY RECRUITMENT
By its very nature, a selection process “discriminates” on the basis of certain qualifications. However, the criteria used for the selection of any applicant must be clear, job specific, and above all, legally valid. If the criteria for selection cannot be explained and matched to the qualifications of the chosen applicant, an unsuccessful applicant could interpret the selection as being unlawfully discriminatory on the basis of race, gender, religion, disability, etc. Therefore, it is absolutely critical for search committees to ensure that the institution retains detailed records on recruitment efforts as well as on the actual selection process.
Selection procedures apply and document the criteria by which an employment decision is made. It is essential that the legally valid criteria are clear and specifically relate to the qualifications identified and necessary for the position. In accepting applications, the department or School conducting the search is requested to keep written records regarding the established, “posted” qualifications, as well as the reasons for selecting the applicant. Just as important, however, is the need to document the reasons for not choosing the other applicants. For example, the Department or School should document the fact that an unsuccessful candidate lacks a terminal degree in the required field, lacks requisite teaching/research experience, the expected number and level of scholarly publications, etc. Records indicating these valid reasons should be kept, along with the applications, by each Department or School for a minimum period of three years from the date of application.
THE RECORD OF HIRING REPORT
The Record of Hiring Report must be completed and submitted with supporting material for the individual selected for a faculty position in accordance with procedures issued by the Provost.
An office is established within the University for consultation, information-sharing, and orientation of the University community on diversity techniques and on methods of ensuring non-discrimination, equal access and fair treatment of individuals. The office of The Director of Institutional Equity and Compliance is Anastasia Coleman and her office is located in the Administration Building, Room 114. The telephone number is 718-817-3112.