by Alexa Schwerha
The University of Iowa Office of the Provost trained its Faculty Search Committees to interview candidates through diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) lenses, documents obtained by Do No Harm through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and shared with the Daily Caller News Foundation revealed.
A training given to the Department of Pediatrics at UI’s medical school broke down different types of implicit biases and provided a list of practices committee members could follow to limit bias in hiring decisions, which included having a diverse committee that is trained and use “accountability strategies,” spending 15-20 minutes on each candidate and evaluating through standard criteria, the documents show. Committee members were also taught to “grade” prospective candidates after an interview rather than use a ranking system and to evaluate whether they made biased decisions if “women and people of color” were not advancing.
Before beginning the hiring process, the training encouraged members to “mak[e] the case for diversity” by reviewing DEI data, which include campus “climate surveys” and demographically based “student success metrics,” and asking themselves what were the “most convincing arguments” that they have heard about the “important of [DEI] in a faculty search.”
It also advised that job postings highlight a commitment to DEI, as well as use gender-neutral terms in its description. Members were encouraged to seek candidates “who would advance the college’s diversity, equity, and inclusion mission.”
A second document obtained by Do No Harm was crafted in 2022 by the Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion to teach about implicit biases, which were defined as an “automatic thoughts or mental shortcuts that affect our thinking and behavior,” and best hiring practices committee members could use to minimize them.
The training advised members to consider making job advertisements “inclusive” and “welcoming” and consider a variety of factors that could contribute to diversity such as who is on a hiring committee and where they are recruiting. Members were also advised to take an Implicit Association Test which examines people’s attitudes and beliefs on different topics.
The second document also included three scenarios for members to assess how they respond to implicit bias in the workplace.
“You’ve been invited to serve on your department’s Hiring Committee and you’ve happily agreed to do so. During your first meeting, the chair of the committee says, “Wow – we finally got some diversity applicants! And some of them actually look halfway decent,” one scenario read.
Another challenged participants to consider how they would respond to a white co-worker touching a black administrator’s hair and asking if she was uncomfortable.
UI, the Office of the Provost, the Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, the Department of Pediatrics and the medical school did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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Alexa Schwerha is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “University of Iowa” by University of Iowa.