Attracting diverse candidates is more important — and easier — than you may think

Meeting workforce diversity requirements and demonstrating desirable representation by various races, ethnicities and backgrounds can make it feel like diversity is just a numbers game.

But diversity elevates education for everyone — as PeopleAdmin CEO Kermit Randa wrote in a recent Huffington Post op-ed, citing how for many decades, studies have shown that diversity benefits schools and students.

And though various diversity challenges persist today, many common obstacles can be overcome with relative ease if school leaders make simple adjustments to current recruiting tactics.

“We value diversity in our staff, but hiring the best candidate for the position is far and away our priority,” said Gabriel Park, chief financial officer at Equality Charter School in New York. “All things being equal, we take into account what a candidate brings to the table in terms of background and experience because our hope is that our school can match the diverse professional environment kids will be working in as adults.”

Many studies and publications have supported that students do benefit from attending schools with diverse workforces, including the Albert Shanker Institute’s The State of Teacher Diversity in American Education, published in 2015, which found:

  • All students benefit from being educated by teachers from a variety of backgrounds, races and ethnic groups, as this experience prepares them to succeed in an increasingly diverse society
  • Minority students profit from having teachers from their own racial and ethnic group to serve as academic role models
  • Positive childhood exposure to individuals from a variety of races and ethnic groups can help reduce stereotypes and help promote cross-cultural social bonding
  • Minority teachers tend to have higher academic expectations for minority students, which can result in students’ increased academic and social growth

Yet the report also found that while student diversity is increasing, the teacher workforce has become less ethnically and racially diverse.

The reasons for lacking diversity likely vary from district to district, but commonly include overall reduction in candidates during today’s teacher shortage, lack of regional diversity and recruiting tactics that don’t reach broad candidate pools.

“We have an easier time retaining staff who live in the Bronx,” said Gabriel, pointing out how even geographic and transportation challenges can limit candidate pools.

Schools and districts can overcome common diversity challenges by making adjustments to their recruiting tactics. 4 easy ways to modify your K-12 recruiting to attract more diverse candidates, explains how schools can attract more diverse applicants by making minor tweaks to their current efforts around:

  • College and university recruiting
  • Career fair activities
  • Current employee development
  • Job site utilization

All four recruiting modifications are simple enough to begin implementing right away, so your school can reach its hiring and diversity goals in time for the 2016-2017 school year … and be on your way to seeing higher achievement among all students.

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