It’s probably no accident that the faculty hiring season ramps up just as Lent begins. The hiring process can sometimes feel like forty days in the wilderness! Anxiety, fear, and just plain exhaustion tempt us to hire too quickly and “get it over with,” while the stress of a long-term search can wear down the school community.
Traditionally, faculty recruitment and interviewing have been the purview of just a few people (deans of faculty, department chairs, division heads, directors/heads of school). And, despite most schools’ stated goal of “a diverse faculty,” schools still tend to hire more “people like us” rather than work hard to broaden the perspectives represented on the faculty.
But research increasingly validates that groups make better decisions than individuals, and diverse groups make better decisions that homogeneous ones. Likewise, students benefit when the community of adults who lead, guide, and support them in their learning are a model of how diverse people of many backgrounds can work together in common purpose. The mission of Episcopal schools challenges us to lead the way in this work
Here are three strategies in use by Episcopal schools of all types to make better hiring decisions in service of a strong and diverse faculty:
- Gain clarity about the school’s mission and priorities vis-à-vis faculty recruitment and hiring, including an institutional commitment, grounded in the school’s Episcopal values, to identify and recruit candidates who both embrace the school’s core mission and add diverse backgrounds, skills, and experiences to the faculty.
- Create a hiring process that brings candidates into contact with a range of current administrators, faculty, and staff members, along with mechanisms for thoughtful feedback to decision-makers.
- Speak directly to a the school’s Episcopal identity and the ways that faculty members embody and support that identity, including conversations with chaplains and/or rectors, a chance to attend school worship, and opportunities to ask questions of current faculty members.
Episcopal schools have always had a commitment to being academically excellent and inclusive communities. A strong and diverse faculty is fundamental to making this vision a reality.