The last administrative council meeting was dedicated to a work session on hiring practices, the new laws and regulations as well as addressing issues of diversity in the context of hiring. The hiring process is one of the most important tasks we engage in. Bakersfield College in the next 5-10-20 yrs will be determined by the individuals hired today. We must be thoughtful and intentional in how our values are represented in the process and protocol that we adopt in our screening and hiring work.
During the campus discussions on core values, diversity was included as one of the six core values of the college. In these discussions, it was affirmed that we value and promote diversity, recognizing that multiple and diverse perspectives lead to a better understanding of the world.
Abe Ali, Vice Chancellor of Human Resources, provided clarification on staff diversity verses equal employment. The district has a goal to diversify our staff; equal employment discusses how to go about achieving this diversity via data informed analysis.
From the 1964 civil rights movement to the present, there has been a paradigm shift away from Affirmative Action, which was first commissioned by President Eisenhower. Districts must now design strategies and focus on how the institution behaves toward prospective employees. Academic excellence can be attained by exposure to the most diverse workforce that provides the most diverse viewpoints.
Diversity training activities risk strengthening biases, the exact opposite of the intended goal. Part of the training must include taking a close look at our practices and seeing how we put up barriers that exclude specific segments of the population.
Professor Matthew Morgan expanded on the theme with a discussion on individual biases reflected in the decision-making process. According to Harvard University’s Project Implicit, “Implicit biases are pervasive,” “People are often unaware of their implicit biases,” and “Implicit biases predict behavior.” That is, from “simple acts of friendliness and inclusion to more consequential acts such as the evaluation of work quality, those who are higher in implicit bias have been shown to display greater discrimination.”
When making hiring decisions, we need to ask whether our committee is making decisions about qualified individuals who are best suited to the needs of our campus or whether we are hiring people who fit in with our own implicit biases. A variety of free preference based anonymous self-assessments can be found at the following website: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo/takeatest.html