Seeking Feedback on “Good Practices Guide”
This is the third in a series of posts soliciting comments on a draft “Good Practices Guide” for advancing diversity in philosophy.
The first in the series, published on Monday, concerned practices regarding sexual harassment, caregivers, and staff-student relationships. The second covered the sections of the guide on conferences and teaching.
Today’s post includes the sections on hiring and tenure evaluation.
Good Practice Policy: Hiring
1. Departments should ensure that members of hiring panels know about the workings of unconscious bias. (A good source of general information for hiring panels is here.)
2. Diversify hiring and tenure committees to include more people from underrepresented groups. For example:
a. Appoint a diversity officer who will be responsible for ensuring each applicant is reviewed equitably. This person should have expertise on these issues if possible, and should make use of available training.
b. Ensure that hiring panels (at both shortlisting and interview stages) include at least one, and preferably more than one, member of an under-represented group, unless there are exceptional practical reasons why this is impossible. But they should be aware that the presence of underrepresented groups on the panel on its own will not correct for bias.
c. Commit to inclusion with influence. However, also be cautious about creating disproportionate burdens on members of underrepresented groups, especially if those burdens do not come with public recognition. When asking diversity officers and members of underrepresented groups to take on these roles, consider relieving them of correspondingly difficult committee-related obligations or otherwise compensate them for their efforts.
d. As far as possible, departments should strive to allow sufficient time for non- rushed consideration of job applications.
e. Departments should consider ways of anonymizing parts of their hiring process (e.g. by considering writing samples anonymously and only then reviewing anonymized CVs and cover letters), and implement any ways of doing so that are practically feasible.
3. Reconsider what constitutes a “well-rounded” department. For example,
a. Consider what topics, approaches, and interests have been neglected but deserve representation.
b. If your department is unfamiliar with a desired research area, reach out to experts in other philosophy departments, or in other disciplines, for feedback on assessing candidates. (The APA’s UP-Directory can be a valuable resource in this regard.)
4. Hire faculty using approaches and evaluation methods that encourage and appropriately value applicants who would contribute to your department’s diversity.
a. Advertise positions in areas likely to attract a wide diversity of applicants.
b. Include language in the job description signaling interest in applicants who contribute to the department’s diversity.
c. Encourage applications from diverse candidates, including reaching out to people in diversity-relevant venues such as the UP-Directory and other diversity focused blogs and associations.
d. Use clear criteria of evaluation that minimize the likelihood of bias and favoritism (see point 7 below).
5. Consider creating post-docs aimed at recruiting philosophers from underrepresented groups or philosophers who work in underrepresented areas of philosophy, for the purpose of supporting their academic development and eventually competing for hire.
a. Provide the requisite mentorship.
b. Make your commitment to a potential hire explicit.
6. Re-evaluate your department’s perception of prestige.
a. Refine the notion of prestige by getting a clearer understanding of what counts as the top journals or conferences in the subfield relating to the applicant’s specialty.
b. Instead of focusing on prestige, focus on the quality of the applicant’s work, how interesting or relevant it is to their sub-specialty, and how relevant it is to the job description requirements.
i. Consider removing markers of prestige when making hiring and tenuring decisions.
7. Agree in advance about what the department is looking for when hiring new faculty.
a. Evaluate whether your conception of “core philosophy” and/or the mission of your philosophy program needs updating and discuss what you are looking for in a “good candidate”.
i. These definitions should include expectations about, for example, the number and quality of publications to prevent holding different applicants to different standards.
b. Before considering applications, identify how items in the job description will be weighted for each applicant.
c. Develop clear guidelines for the evaluation criteria and adhere to them.
d. Ensure that any non-anonymous parts of the review process do not omit, or unfairly disadvantage, applicants from underrepresented groups.
e. Attend to your regional context as well as the overall global context (e.g. the importance of including adequate geographical and indigenous representation in your department).
f. Re-evaluate applications with high diversity ratings to determine whether bias played a role in excluding the applicants from getting an interview or in the interview process.
8. Consider giving diversity-related contributions more weight when evaluating applicants.
a. Remember that being a member of an underrepresented group in philosophy can require additional labor, burdens, stressors, and expectations, which is often not recognized.
b. Remember that philosophers from underrepresented groups are often expected to take on a disproportionate amount of service work in addition to their research.
c. Evaluate whether permitting or requiring diversity statements would be useful.
9. Commit to sustained efforts to increase diversity in your department over time.
a. Use each new hire and new tenure case as a potential opportunity to increase diversity in your department.
b. Revise your practices until you adopt practices that work for your university and department context.
c. Highlight your commitment to diversity and fairly evaluate your progress in meeting department diversity goals in implementing your good practices plan during strategic planning sessions and both internal and external department reviews.
10. Develop formal policies for managing the needs of diverse groups.
a. Work to make sure appropriate disability related accommodations are in place.
b. Support mentoring and provide support networks for people you hire from underrepresented groups.
c. Consider having a yearly diversity workshop or training available for faculty – universities have resources for this and direct to other resources- share the following resources with your faculty:
11. Learn about the issues that underrepresented colleagues typically face so that you can advocate more effectively with difficult colleagues for faculty retention and promotion.
a. Diversity and excellence are not divergent aims. Diversity is a component of excellence.
b. Practices employed by hiring and tenuring committees likely play a substantial role in the problem of underrepresentation in philosophy.
c. Keep in mind that managing underrepresentation in philosophy will help with philosophy’s relevance at a time when the value of the humanities is contested.
12. During the search process make efforts so that the process is as equitable as possible.
a. Conducting interviews online can disadvantage candidates that do not have access to good technical facilities. Try to support such candidates, e.g., by providing funding to use commercial facilities for the interview.
b. During the campus visit, ensure that arrangements have been made to the extent possible for candidates with disabilities and other needs (e.g., that locations are accessible, printed material is in large print, child care and nursing accommodations are available, etc.).
13. Departments should ensure that those involved in the promotions and appraisals processes know about the workings of implicit bias.
a. Promotions committees/Heads of Department should, where consistent with institutional policy, ask for CVs from all eligible department members, rather than inviting specific members of staff to apply or only considering those who put themselves forward.
14. Officially adopt and implement these diversity-promoting practices to move from good intentions to good practice.
a. Make sure the search committee is aware of and follows the university and federal regulations concerning Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity and Non- Discrimination.
b. Widely publicize your department’s targets and commitment to promoting diversity.
c. Inform all committee members and bind future committee members to uphold these standards.
d. Publicly and explicitly adopt diversity-promoting practices, helping to create a culture of concern that enhances the department’s reputation for welcoming diversity, attracting more diverse applicants.
e. Collect data on diversity relevant hiring practices, e.g. applicant and hiring rates for members of underrepresented groups, tenure and retention rates, hiring committee composition, etc., and track progress in increasing diversity in your department.
f. Evaluate progress at regular intervals and revise practices accordingly.
i. Work with researchers to isolate and implement evidence-based practices that increase diversity in academic philosophy departments.
Good Practice Policy: standards and procedures for tenure evaluation
Institutions should ensure that their stated criteria for tenure match the criteria that, in actual practice, the institutions apply.
1. Tenure-track faculty members should be clearly informed by designated members of faculty of all criteria for tenure and promotion, including any special requirements applicable within a department or a college.
a. The designated member of the faculty should clearly explain to every tenure-track faculty member the standards for reappointment and tenure and the cycle for evaluations of his or her progress in meeting these requirements.
b. New faculty members should meet the designated member of the faculty regularly — at least once a year — to discuss progress and places where improvement is needed.
c. Periodic evaluations should be candid and expressed in plain English. They should include specific examples illustrating the quality of performance, constructive criticism of any potential areas for improvement, and practical guidance for future efforts.
d. The department’s focus should be to evaluate the candidate’s research, teaching, and service. The faculty’s evaluations should address these questions clearly listing specific examples.
2. Institutions should develop in advance procedures for handling positive developments or negative allegations that may come to light during the evaluation process.
a. Sometimes the terms “static” and “dynamic” are used to distinguish between those tenure systems that accept new information during the review process and those that do not. Institutions should adopt policies that make clear in advance which approach it will use and to adhere to its policies.
3. Institutions should adopt a consistent approach to handling private letters and conversations, outside the normal review process, concerning the merits of a tenure candidate.
4. Faculty and administrators must treat an unsuccessful tenure candidate with professionalism, decency and compassion, and colleagues should take care not to isolate the person socially. Active efforts to assist the candidate in relocating to another position redound to the mutual benefit of the individual and the institution.
5. The faculty, administration, and governing board should strive for consistency in the operation of the institution’s tenure evaluation process. Inconsistency in tenure decisions, legally termed “disparate treatment,” is the essence of an institution’s tenure process being discriminatory. With this in mind,
a. Tenure decisions must be consistent over time among candidates with different personal characteristics—such as race, gender, disability, and national origin.
b. Institutional policies should list the types of discrimination that the institution prohibits.
c. Reviewers at each level, from the department to the ultimate decision maker, should ask, “How does this candidate compare to others we have evaluated for tenure in the recent past?”
[This section has been adapted from the Good Tenure Evaluation in Advice for Tenured Faculty, Department Chairs, and Academic Administrators: A Joint Project of The American Council on Education, The American Association of University Professors, and United Educators Insurance Risk Retention Group available here.]