Search Committee Responsibilities
Wide-reaching and consistent outreach efforts can result in a strongly diverse pool of qualified applicants. There are essential benchmarks for diversifying the faculty and staff. Based on such pools, search committees can conduct equitable reviews of the credentials of the applicants. In this measurable way, the chair of the search committee demonstrates proactive support of and accountability for increasing diversity in the workforce.
Equal Opportunity and Outreach facilitates the equitable review of applications by working directly with search committee chairs. This also helps to ensure compliance with Civil Rights and related laws and protection of UMass Lowell's status as a recipient of federal and state funds.
Where there is under-representation in hiring, fair and consistent hiring practices can deliver diversity to the workforce. A diverse workforce then can move toward inclusion. An inclusive environment is one where the unique contributions of all members of the community are valued. Inclusion means that differences are seen sources of growth and mutual benefit, rather than “threats” to the status quo. Such an environment leads to reduced workforce problems, and greater productivity, morale, and workforce retention and progress.
Compliance is a required foundation not an end in itself. A diversified workforce capable of responding to the needs of a diverse world is the goal!
The Equity in Hiring Process
1. Attend Training and Plan Outreach
Search committee members should attend training in this process - contact Maria_Figueroa@uml.edu, Human Resources to sign up. Your training is valid for two years.
Search Committees should download the Recruitment Strategy Template (doc) as soon as they anticipate a position opening. This tool is used to develop and track how you implemented a recruitment strategy. Please upload your completed form for review by EOO and if appropriate, the Provost’s Office prior to the ending your search (see step 5).
Making a habit of conducting good search processes that produce diverse candidates is the best way to enhance diversity. It also lowers the potential of complaints of discrimination. You cannot control who may file a complaint, but having a history of diverse placements and equitable searches support the University interests in this area and can counter a legal challenge to searches. Teaming together, we can make this happen!
Non-selected applicants may place complaints internally with EOO.
Additionally, non-selected applicants may place complaints with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the federal Office for Civil Rights. In these cases, MCAD, EEOC or OCR scrutinizes the employer’s applicant tracking methods, evaluation mechanisms, job advertisements, and applicant credentials to determine if the reasons given for not interviewing and for not hiring related to the requirements in the published job ad. In addition, they also review the degree to which qualifying and non-qualifying reasons correspond to credentials submitted by each applicant. Any disconnects between credentials, reasons for not interviewing or not hiring, and the job ad will cause EEOC/MCAD/OCR investigators to question if the reasons were a façade to conceal discrimination. Reasons are expected to be specific to each candidate based on the evaluation of the search committee members who understand the actual content of the job. Another red flag that can pop up is if there is no evidence of a valid affirmative action review or if the same reason for not hiring is given for several candidates despite the fact that they have different levels of qualifications.
We ask that you conduct a consistent and well-documented search process. A poorly conducted search with poor documentation can signal deeper problems. If EOO staff becomes aware of this during the search process, we will advise you immediately. This gives the search committee the opportunity to make corrections as soon as possible. Do keep in mind however, though that the first indication that a non-selected candidate suspects discrimination may be when we receive notice from MCAD, EEOC or OCR. This can be the result of interactions between the applicant and members of the search committee that EOO staff is not privy to. At this point, the chair and or any number of members of the search committee may have to respond to allegations that they have individually discriminated against an applicant.
Please see the UMass Lowell Hiring Guide (pdf) for guidance on the search and hiring processes.
We are happy to respond to your request for assistance in this area.
2. Why Affirmative Action?
As a recipient of federal grant contract funds, the University must implement and maintain a program to overcome under-representation of minorities and women in the workforce. Such affirmative steps as recruiting underrepresented populations; providing fair hiring practice education to search committees; and monitoring the interview, selecting and salaries are all examples of affirmative steps the employer is expected to take under the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR Title 41, Part 60, US Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs). If a contractor such as the University fails to comply, federal grant funds can be withheld.
While the University has a strong interest to retain its grant funding, it is also committed to diversifying its workforce to reflect the communities it service. Affirmative action is a tool that can assist in diversifying the workforce. What makes the mix work is when we develop cultural capabilities and regularly practice intercultural competency.
Affirmative Action is the baseline compliance expectation. As this occurs, we are able to increase our cultural awareness and competence. This positively impacts our workforce climate, reduces problems, fosters morale, and illustrates how attractive UMass Lowell is as an employer. In these ways we will advance our institutional goals and best serve our students and the community.
A memo from the chair of the search committee or the dean of the college detailing your efforts should accompany the Verification Form (for staff positions) or the Request for Personnel Action PF1&2 Form (for faculty positions).
Know the underrepresentation in the work unit of the position:
- Faculty departments
- Staff job groups
3. Diversity Talent Sourcing
Equal Opportunity and Outreach encourages search committees and hiring officials to pursue large, diverse pools of qualified candidates. Factors that enhance successful searches are:
- An ethos within search committees that values racially diverse candidates, as modeled by search committee chairs, deans and department chairs
- Assertively communicating this value within the position advertisement by including statement(s) such as: "In pursuit of deepening diversity in our workforce to reflect the community we serve and to enhance the academic experience for students, the University of Massachusetts Lowell is seeking a dynamic individual for the position of..."
- Collaboration with Equal Opportunity & Outreach for assistance at any stage of the search process
- Direct contacts with potentially interested applicants; for faculty positions, EOO annually provides deans with lists of names and addresses of minority and women doctoral recipients
- Awide-reaching advertising strategy that includes both traditional and minority-oriented venues.
Here are some ideas as you conduct your talent search. EOO strongly encourages you to develop direct relationships with individuals and corporations who have strong links to minority communities - a best practice. Please explore each of these tools:
- Advertising in venues viewed by large percentages of minorities, including websites that allow you to place hyperlinks to the main HR advertisement.
Higher Education Resource Collaborative - UMass Lowell is a member of the New England HERC and posts positions on this job website. HERC provides resources,discounts and training for member academic institutions specifically in recruitment and retention. The Collaborative also seeks to assist spouses and partners of faculty and staff to secure area employment.
City Career Fair Jobs - UMass Lowell attends career fairs such as this one, and advertises positions on this job website.
CareerBuilder.com - UMass Lowell posts on this site, with linked connections from hundreds of diversity partners
- Referral Agencies - Foster strong referral relationships with minority-serving organizations. EOO has developed relationships with dozens of local agencies who announce our position opportunities to the underrepresented populations they serve. We can provide you with contacts for many types of positions.
- Historically Minority Serving Institutions Toolkit - Database of contacts within your academic discipline at doctoral-degree granting Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions. We also provide two sample outreach letter templates (doc). As you communicate with chairs at these institutions, solicit names of all recent graduates, not minorities only.
- Students and alumni - Notify current UMass Lowell students or alumni of position openings.
- Career fairs - Publicize positions at career fairs that reach large groups of minorities.
4. Consult with your EOO contact before concluding each interview and hiring decision stage.
Clearly, if the University strives to be a world-class insitution, our hiring practices must be structured to attract diversity that reflects the communities we serve.
Searches also must be defensible. However, focusing on this alone does not by itself enhance diversity. Search committees must be proactive in their efforts so that diverse appointments can result. Search committee members are agents of the employer. The criteria you use must meet reasonable standards of fairness. Here are a few points to remember when conducting a search:
- The absence of a challenge does not mean that the search was conducted equitably.
- Legally defensible searches benefit all applicants, not just underrepresented candidates.
- The Equity in Hiring Process does not exist for EOO staff to provide search committees "legal" reasons for not hiring candidates from underrepresented groups. This presumes that such candidates commonly do not meet the qualifications for the position as advertised.
- Diversity and lowered qualifications are not equivalent!
- Candidates, who, all but for membership in one or more protected categories are similarly qualified (similarly situated) must be similarly treated and evaluated.
- EOO advises chairs of search committees on the degree of under representation in their college or department and their history of hiring such candidates.
- EOO related challenges or questions directly from any applicant regarding the decision of the search committee regarding his/her application.
- Credentials of the candidates are to be compared to the published job advertisement.
- The manner in which a search is conducted can lead to a perception of either fairness or bias to the applicants.
5. Use the Recruitment Strategy Template (doc) to self-assess and document your search.
Because UMass Lowell is sincere in its determination to enhance the representation of qualified minority faculty and staff, if you do not provide the Recruitment Strategy Template (doc), your recommendation for a position hire may not be approved.