Staffing for Diversity Part II: Position Descriptions and Publicity
In August, we introduced this series on staffing for diversity with some reflection questions on the values and motivations that may underlie your interest in increasing the diversity of your staff. If you didn't already do so, we encourage you to read the piece in last month's edition of Compensation and Staffing News.
When you have a staff position to fill, you probably seek to cast a wide net, attract a strong applicant pool, and hire the "best" person. Unfortunately, sometimes position description language can feel discouraging people who would actually be excellent for a position. Or the way the position is publicized limits who sees the opening or who is inspired to apply. Your thinking can get constrained by unconscious biases and pre-formed notions about what's needed or what the new staff member will look like.
In particular, pay attention to academic and experience-related qualifications or preferences. What knowledge and skills are necessary in order to fulfill the responsibilities of the position? What are all of the ways that knowledge and skill set might be acquired? A particular college degree, in some cases, might offer assurance that an applicant has had sufficient depth and breadth of training for the job. But would you necessarily want to rule someone out if they don't have the degree? And what about a more general "bachelor's degree or equivalent" requirement? What capabilities does the college degree stand for - and is there another way of assessing those? What does "equivalent" look like? What could someone's life experience offer you that doesn't immediately translate into "knowledge and skills" in the traditional sense? Do you expect the applicant to claim Unitarian Universalism as their own religious identity? If so, why? Is there a more inclusive approach?
You may have heard about the Hewlett-Packard study showing that men tend to apply for a job if they meet 60% of the posted qualifications, while women tend not to apply unless they meet 100% of the qualifications. (Take a look at the graphic showing the reasons people didn't apply. It's not about confidence or ability.) Are potential applicants with other marginalized identities similarly less likely to apply for your position if their experience doesn't match your requirements?
When it's time to advertise your position, are you thinking expansively about how to get the word out? Within your local area, what are all the networks you can tap into? What connections do you have - or can you make - to communities of color? To other faith-based and nonprofit organizations? In your publicity piece, do you emphasize your congregation's commitment to nurturing employees who enrich your staff team and congregation by bringing diverse identities? Have you reached out to your regional staff, who know your congregation and its context, for advice?
These questions are not a checklist, nor do they have "right" answers. They are provided to plant seeds and to be a springboard for your own dialogue. As one potential conversation-starter, we suggest the reflection Letters after My Name, in which lifelong Unitarian Universalist Kari Kopnick shares her experience of being a non-degreed religious educator in a UU congregation.