Five Ways to Use Data to Improve Diversity

Data-driven Review, Promotion, and Tenure (RPT) processes are a powerful way to improve faculty diversity. That’s because collecting and analyzing diversity-related data at each step in the faculty career journey, as well as at the broader departmental and institutional level, allows measurement against established diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals and trend analysis. 

The data will help uncover whether or not you are succeeding in retaining faculty who belong to underrepresented demographic groups, and can dictate how and when to change your strategy when you are falling short.

The following are five ways data can help illuminate faculty employment patterns as you continuously and proactively work on your RPT diversity strategy:

1. Collect data on your institution’s efforts to hire and retain faculty from underrepresented groups.

Knowing your track record in hiring and retaining underrepresented group members provides a baseline for measurement of success towards diversity goals. It also may unearth departments, schools, or colleges that are falling short of DEI aims and information on where to invest resources, training, and additional attention.

2. Use your faculty information system to build out all official RPT processes and track all RPT activity. 

By running all your RPT activity data and decisions through your faculty information system, you will build a more objective frame of reference for diversity-related goals. It will let you catalogue and automate the intended faculty evaluation processes—and log what happens during each step of each case. Bringing academic workflows into a central system is essential to understand diversity in your promotion patterns.

3. Collect and review qualitative data.

Data that can be tagged within a repository to use as part of a diversity-related audit includes qualitative data from faculty who leave (through exit interviews) and those who stay (through annual reviews). By conducting exit interviews and reviews, you can find out critical information about how minority faculty members are feeling and the challenges and issues they are facing. With this information, you can work to focus on how to correct problems related to the cultural climate that affect retention.

4. Analyze demographic data related to faculty diversity.

Comparing faculty diversity demographic data (e.g., race, sex, ethnicity, language spoken, sexual orientation) against that of both the student body and local and national populations will illustrate whether your institution’s faculty is representative of the communities they serve. Whether and how well faculty diversity parallels the internal and external institutional demographics have been tied to the recruitment and retention of diverse professors and students alike.

5. Analyze and evaluate salary data.

Since salary disparities negatively impact the retention of underrepresented demographic groups, clearly understanding faculty salary information by demographic provides the basis to create more equitable salary structures to aid in the hiring and retention of diverse faculty. Proactive actions to eradicate inequities and work towards parity will make your institution more desirable to attract and retain minority faculty members.

Interested in how other universities today are tackling diversity and inclusion across the faculty lifecycle? Download at our free white paper Faculty Diversity in Review, Promotion, and Tenure and see what else you could be doing.