Developing and Writing a Diversity Statement (2024)

by Sara L. BeckPrint Version

Cite this guide: Beck, S. L. (2018). Developing and writing a diversity statement. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. Retrieved [todaysdate] from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/developing-and-writing-a-diversity-statement.

Developing and Writing a Diversity Statement (1)

  • What is a diversity statement, and what purpose does it serve?
  • What topics might be included in a diversity statement?
  • Getting Started
  • Writing Prompts
  • Adapting your Statement for a Job Application
  • Additional Resources
  • References

What is a diversity statement, and what purpose does it serve?

Increasingly, institutions of higher education are becoming more intentional and programmatic about their efforts to embrace principles of inclusion, equity, justice, and diversity throughout campus life. As they do so, they are more focused on finding faculty who have experiences and competencies that can contribute to these efforts. Consequently, universities and colleges frequently are requesting that job applicants address how they can contribute to a culture of inclusion and equity within the campus community in the form of a “diversity statement.”

Developing and Writing a Diversity Statement (2)

Sometimes, a job ad will request that applicants address diversity in the cover letter or the teaching statement, but a request for a separate diversity statement is becoming more common. From the perspective of the university, the purpose of this document is to demonstrate that the applicant has commitments and capacities to contribute to the institution’s projects of inclusion and equity via his or her work, including scholarship, teaching, service, mentoring, and advising. Melissa Thomas-Hunt, Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence at Vanderbilt University, explains that asking faculty applicants to speak to inclusive excellence in their application materials or during the interview process shows the university’s commitment to inclusion and ensures that new faculty share that commitment (2018). The document is also an opportunity for applicants to highlight their understanding of the barriers faced by under-represented or marginalized groups, as well as their own experiences meeting the needs of a diverse population of students, staff, and peers. For example, The University of California at San Diego requests a separate “Contributions to Diversity” statement from all faculty applicants, and its published guidelines suggest describing “your past efforts, as well as future plans to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion.” (2.1.18, https://facultydiversity.ucsd.edu/_files/c2d-guidelines.pdf).

The wording that universities and colleges use in framing the request for a diversity statement varies widely. Below are a few examples from job ads posted in the 2017-2018 academic year.

St. Mary’s College of Maryland (public liberal arts college, faculty posting in Psychology):

Applicants should submit a statement explaining how their teaching at the College will contribute to a culture of inclusion and campus diversity.

Denison University (private liberal arts university in Ohio, faculty posting in Anthropology):

A description of how the applicant would contribute to the development of a diverse and inclusive learning community at Denison through her/his teaching, research, and/or service.

Angelo State (public university in Texas, faculty posting in Engineering):

The required Other Document should be no longer than 2 pages and should discuss how the candidate would help achieve Angelo State University’s goal to attract and graduate more women, Hispanic, and students from other underrepresented groups.

Georgia College and State University (public liberal arts college, faculty posting in Psychology)

Qualified candidates should submit a research statement, and a diversity statement (describing how you incorporate diversity into your teaching, research, and/or service). Teaching, research, and diversity statements should be limited to two single-spaced pages.

Franklin & Marshall College (private liberal arts college in Pennsylvania, Visiting Assistant Professor Position in Psychology)

Pursuant to the college’s vision for cultivating a diverse and inclusive community, the search committee will ask all applicants to address how their past and/or potential contributions might serve to advance F&M’s commitment to teaching and mentoring young people from a variety of personal experiences, values, and worldviews that arise from differences of culture and circumstance.

What topics might be included in a diversity statement?

Since the diversity statement is an emerging genre in the context of faculty job applications, there are few set guidelines on what must be included. Keeping in mind that the purpose of the statement is to demonstrate a commitment to fostering diversity, the following elements may be appropriate:

  • Statement of values as they relate to your understanding and commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, and/or justice in higher education.
  • Examples of experiences that demonstrate your commitment to fostering the success of underrepresented students, staff, and peers, and supporting a diversity of perspectives in the classroom, lab, campus, or community.
  • Future plans for continuing to advance inclusive excellence, diversity, or equity in your research, teaching, and service.

Getting started

Developing and Writing a Diversity Statement (3)Before you get started, clarify for yourself what you mean by “diversity,” or how you intend to use the word in your statement. As you think about diversity, consider related terms like “inclusion” and “equity.” You may or may not define your terms in the statement itself, but you should be very clear on what you mean as you are thinking and writing. You also may wish to reflect on your own frame of reference.

  • What are your values regarding diversity, inclusion, and equity in your professional life? Why do you think diversity is valuable in higher education settings? How about in your discipline specifically?
  • What kinds of student, staff, or faculty diversity are you thinking of as you answer this question, and are there other ways in which diversity manifests in campus communities that might be valuable to consider?
  • What elements of your own identity inform your teaching, research, or scholarship in a tangible way?

It is worth noting that diversity statements are fundamentally about your values, commitments, and capabilities, and not necessarily your identity and the ways it shapes your work. If you choose to disclose your identity in a diversity statement, you should be aware of some issues.

Should You Self-Disclose Elements of Your Personal Identity?

Note that some people wish to share elements of their personal background in their actual statement, and many do not. Reflecting on your own frame of reference can be useful regardless. Some degree of transparency may help readers contextualize the experiences and approaches you detail in your statement. For example, you may wish to share that you grew up in a bilingual household or that you attended graduate school as an international student, if either has influenced your approach to mentorship or teaching. A 2014 study investigated the content of 191 cover letters for faculty positions in which applicants were specifically asked to address diversity and inclusion; less than a quarter of applicants self-disclosed some aspect of their personal identity (Schmaling, Trevino, Lind, Blume, & Baker, 2014). Despite the low percentage of applicants who chose to self-disclose and despite the authors’ note that they could not determine which applications advanced as a function of the applicants’ choice to self-disclose, they write that “self-disclosing one’s diversity may reconceptualize membership in a previously stigmatized group as an advantage, particularly if the self-identification reinforces a coherent academic and professional identity (Schmaling et al., 2014, p. 10)..”

However, be advised that there is risk in disclosing details that may carry stigma or induce subtle biases on the part of readers. For example, some research confirms that biases toward African Americans and women influence evaluation of written application materials (Dovidio & Gaertner, 2000; Moss-Racusin, Dovidio, Brescoll, Graham, & Handelsman, 2012), specifically when the application is not exceptionally weak or exceptionally strong (Dovidio & Gaertner, 2000). The potential benefit of self-disclosing one’s mental health history or sexual orientation, for example, should be carefully weighed against the risk. To be sure, an excellent statement can be written without sharing elements of personal identity, and some universities that request statements are beginning to highlight this. The University of San Diego’s published guidelines to writing a diversity statement, for example, emphasize their desire to identify candidates who share the institution’s commitment to inclusive excellence, “regardless of personal demographic characteristics.”

Writing Prompts

The following prompts are meant to help you identify areas of strength to highlight in your diversity statement. For each of the following areas, think about your past experience and what you plan to do in the future. You don’t need to answer every question, as all may not apply.

Research and Scholarship

  • Does your research/scholarship directly address issues of diversity, inclusion, or equity? If so, how?
  • Does your research/scholarship address issues specific to marginalized groups? If so, describe the connection.
  • Has your research/scholarship been shared with the community or public in a way that promotes access to scholarship?
  • Has your scholarship involved collaboration with diverse groups of colleagues or commentators?

Mentorship and Advising

  • Have you worked with any students in a mentorship or advisory capacity who are from marginalized groups? If so, how did you help them identify and overcome barriers to success? Think about your experience with research mentorship, teaching or tutoring, academic advising, and community mentorship.
  • If you plan to train undergraduates and/or graduate students in your future role, what efforts will you make to recruit and retain students from marginalized and underrepresented groups?

Teaching

  • How do you plan to serve a student body that is diverse in a multitude of ways? Think not just race, ethnicity, and SES, but about age, religion, academic preparedness, disability, gender expression, or other differences.
  • How does your approach to course design take into account considerations of diversity? You may wish to reflect on using a range of assessments, preventing bias in grading, diversifying course content, using inclusive language in the syllabus and classroom, or utilizing student feedback to improve classroom culture or tone. Try to generate at least one specific example of how your decision affects student’s learning in your course. (Note: One prominent example of inclusive syllabus language is diversity statements within syllabi; see examples from Brown University, Yale Center for Teaching and Learning, and The Eberly Center at Carnegie Mellon University)
  • What do you do as a teacher that creates a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere? How do you ensure that students in your class feel a sense of belonging?
  • How does your approach to facilitating discussion (and/or structuring active learning activities) take into account considerations of positionality, power, and/or diversity? You may wish to reflect on using semi-structured discussion techniques, online access points for student participation, classroom seating arrangements, or other ways in which you create opportunities for student engagement. Try to generate at least one specific example of how your pedagogical choice facilitates student engagement in a particular course.
  • Does your discipline lend itself to dialogue about diversity? If so, how do you incorporate this dialogue into your courses? Describe the impact of doing so on student learning and engagement.
  • How do you ensure that your course readings and sources reflect diverse perspectives? Have you had any experience diversifying/decolonizing content for your courses, and if so, what has been the impact on student learning?

Service

  • Have you participated in any service activities (e.g. university committees, symposiums, workshops, volunteer work in the community) whose goals relate to diversity, inclusion, and equity? If so, describe your experience. What did you accomplish? What did you learn? What skills did you build in the process?
  • If you have engaged in diversity-related service, how will you incorporate your experience into the job for which you are applying? (Note: here is where – having done your research on the school to which you are applying – you might consider referencing an existing diversity-related initiative to which you could contribute or which you could expand)

Adapting your Statement for a Job Application

After you have developed a statement that reflects your strengths and experiences related to diversity, inclusion, and equity, you may wish to tailor it for individual job applications. Be sure to do your homework about diversity-related programs and resources at the schools to which you are applying, and consider including how you plan to contribute to or expand existing programs at that institution. For example, if you have been particularly active in social justice initiatives and are applying to a school with no existing programs addressing race, power and privilege in higher education, it may be appropriate to propose a program modelled on something you’ve already done. However, you do not need to propose a new diversity-related program to write an effective diversity statement. Perhaps you envision your contribution as serving on faculty committees related to diversifying curriculum in your department or advising LGBT-student groups or research initiatives. Be honest about where you are and how you can contribute.

Additional Resources

References

  • Dovidio, J. F., & Gaertner, S. L. (2000). Aversive racism and selection decisions: 1989 and 1999.Psychological Science,11(4), 315-319. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9280.00262
  • Schmaling, K. B., Trevino, A. Y., Lind, J. R., Blume, A. W., & Baker, D. L. (2015). Diversity statements: How faculty applicants address diversity.Journal of Diversity in Higher Education,8(4), 213-224. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0038549
  • Moss-Racusin, C., Dovidio, J. F., Brescoll, V. L., Graham, M. J., & Handelsman, J. (2012). Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students.PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America,109(41), 16474-16479. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1211286109
  • University of California: Contributions to Diversity

Developing and Writing a Diversity Statement (4)
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Developing and Writing a Diversity Statement (2024)

FAQs

What is an example of diversity statement? ›

Example 5: Diversity Statement

It is so rare to have direct access to such a wide-range of people, from a variety of different backgrounds, that we must relish the opportunity to see the world in a new way.

What is an example diversity and inclusion statement? ›

I am committed to working to seek for solutions throughout my career. I am committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in my clinical work, research and training programs. I have completed Bias 101 and Safe Zone training, and proudly display an equity sign on my laptop.

What are the main steps to create diversity plans? ›

He says there are three main steps to creating diversity plans:
  1. Assessment of diversity. Employee satisfaction surveys, discussions, and open forums that can provide insight into the challenges and obstacles to diversity. ...
  2. Development of the diversity plan. ...
  3. Implementation of the plan.

How long should a diversity statement be? ›

A diversity statement is a polished, narrative statement, typically 1–2 pages in length, that describes one's accomplishments, goals, and process to advance excellence in diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging as a teacher and a researcher in higher education.

What makes a good corporate diversity statement? ›

Most importantly, a good diversity statement should be honest, authentic, and aligned with the actions and values of your company. It should be more than a webpage. It needs to be something that you're always actively working towards and keeping in mind.

What is a good example of diversity in the workplace? ›

A company putting an emphasis on people with unconventional or different backgrounds is another example of workplace diversity. Many companies might have a program in which they make an effort to bring on those who have served in the military, for example.

What are 5 different examples of diversity in an organization? ›

Here's a list of the different types of diversity in the workplace:
  • Cultural diversity.
  • Racial diversity.
  • Religious diversity.
  • Age diversity.
  • Sex / Gender diversity.
  • Sexual orientation.
  • Disability.

What makes a bad diversity statement? ›

Sometimes, diversity statements include forceful messages such as a “zero-tolerance policy” towards racism, or expect all employees to commit themselves to “stopping racism.” While it's important that policies and expectations are in place to uphold workplace equality, such authoritarian statements can actually ...

What are three examples of diversity? ›

These are types of diversity are part of an individual's core identity.
  • Race. Race is, as defined by the NIH, a “social construct used to group people” based on their “physical appearance, social factors and cultural backgrounds.” ...
  • Ethnicity. ...
  • Gender. ...
  • Physical/Mental Abilities. ...
  • Age. ...
  • Sexual Orientation.
Sep 26, 2022

How do you start a diversity and inclusion essay? ›

Top Tips for Crafting a Diversity Essay
  1. Understand and Define Your Views on Diversity and Inclusion. ...
  2. Tell Your Story. ...
  3. Explain Why Your Background Will Positively Contribute to the School's Culture. ...
  4. Consider How Your Background Impacted Your Skills and Perspectives. ...
  5. Think About the Future.
Oct 25, 2021

How do you write an equality and diversity statement? ›

To begin the policy, write a statement that outlines your organisation's commitment to equality; explain that your aims are to create a workforce that is diverse, promotes positivity, and allows everyone to thrive, no matter their background or characteristics.

What are the 7 pillars of diversity? ›

About 7 Pillars of Inclusion
  • Access.
  • Attitude.
  • Choice.
  • Partnerships.
  • Communication.
  • Policy.
  • Opportunities.

What are the 5 keys areas of diversity? ›

We're focusing here on the five most common areas of diversity that companies identify.
  • Cultural Diversity. The modern working world has been defined by one central phrase: culture fit. ...
  • Racial Diversity. ...
  • Gender Diversity. ...
  • Physical Disabilities. ...
  • Diversity in Interests.

What are the 7 key areas of diversity? ›

7 types of diversity in the workplace
  • Cultural diversity. ...
  • Age diversity. ...
  • Racial diversity. ...
  • Gender diversity. ...
  • Sexual orientation. ...
  • Disability. ...
  • Religious diversity.
Feb 3, 2023

What makes a good diversity and inclusion statement? ›

Your statement should provide diversity, equity, and inclusion definitions for your culture. It should connect DEI to your specific mission, vision, and values, and demonstrate what living your DEI statement looks like in real life. A good DEI statement includes the current state of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Should a diversity statement be double spaced? ›

Most diversity statements should be one double-spaced page. Make sure to check each law school's instructions, though, for their individual page and word-count preferences.

What is a successful diversity plan? ›

They might include non-discrimination policies (like emphasizing merit as the basis for pay and promotions, or training employees in implicit bias), programs that support target groups (like diversity mentoring programs), or accountability practices (like hiring a chief diversity officer or implementing a reporting ...

How do you handle diversity in workplace Give 5 examples? ›

Here are some ways that will help overcome diversity challenges:
  • Take a look at your recruiting and hiring practices. ...
  • Establish mentoring opportunities. ...
  • Promote team work. ...
  • Make inclusion a priority. ...
  • Provide Diversity Training.

How do you demonstrate diversity and inclusion as an employee? ›

Ways to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace
  1. Be aware of unconscious bias. ...
  2. Communicate the importance of managing bias. ...
  3. Promote pay equity. ...
  4. Develop a strategic training program. ...
  5. Acknowledge holidays of all cultures. ...
  6. Make it easy for your people to participate in employee resource groups. ...
  7. Mix up your teams.
Jun 21, 2022

What are employers looking for in a diversity statement? ›

In general terms, diversity statement should include past experiences and activities, and also future plans to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion.

What are some good examples of unity in diversity? ›

India is another brilliant example of Unity in Diversity. In India, people of diverse religions, cultures, castes, sects, etc. have been living together. Furthermore, they have been living together for many centuries.

What are the three pillars of diversity? ›

Gallup's research finds that there are three requirements that must be present in each of the strategies.
  • Employees are treated with respect. A culture of inclusiveness is rooted in respect. ...
  • Employees are valued for their strengths. ...
  • Leaders do what is right.
Sep 17, 2018

What is the best answer to diversity interview question? ›

Be genuine when talking about your commitment to diversity. When asked a question about diversity, discuss your direct experiences with people of different cultures. Refrain from saying you don't see color. Instead, explain the value of honoring diverse cultures and learning from others.

What are the six 6 best strategies for working with diversity? ›

Six Strategies for Embracing Diversity in the Workplace
  • Start the conversation. ...
  • Increase accountability and transparency. ...
  • Develop inclusive leadership skills. ...
  • Notice the diversity (or lack of it) during discussions and decisions. ...
  • Pay attention to how all people are treated. ...
  • Act as a vocal ally.

What are 8 key areas of diversity you may find in a workplace? ›

For example, this may include individuals of different race, culture, sexual orientation, gender, religion, age and socio-economic background. Diverse organisations aim to support their workforce through an inclusive approach, ensuring equal consideration for all team members.

What is the biggest issue with diversity in the workplace? ›

Below are the most common challenges of diversity in the workplace which are important to consider.
  1. Communication barriers. ...
  2. Employee requirements. ...
  3. Gender equality issues. ...
  4. Generational differences. ...
  5. Conflicting beliefs. ...
  6. Disability discrimination. ...
  7. Isolated individuals. ...
  8. Time consuming implementation process.
Apr 23, 2022

What are the five challenges of diversity in the workplace? ›

Top challenges of diversity in the workplace
  • Communication issues. ...
  • Cultural misunderstandings. ...
  • Slower decision making. ...
  • Inequitable inclusion. ...
  • Discrimination. ...
  • Final thoughts on the challenges of diversity in the workplace. ...
  • Need DEI Training?

How do you write a diversity essay example? ›

How to Write a Diversity Essay | Tips & Examples
  1. What is a diversity essay?
  2. Identify how you will enrich the campus community.
  3. Share stories about your lived experience.
  4. Explain how your background or identity has affected your life.
  5. Frequently asked questions about college application essays.
Nov 1, 2021

How do you end a diversity statement? ›

To close, tie everything together succinctly. Conclude with 1-3 sentences about how your background connects with the position and/or firm that you're seeking. If you can find a way to do so, relate your experience to work that the firm is already doing with regard to diversity and inclusion.

How do you introduce unity in diversity? ›

Unity in diversity: How do we teach kids to appreciate differences around them?
  1. 6 simple ways to help your child understand diversity. ...
  2. Notice the differences around home. ...
  3. Introduce diversity in everyday choices. ...
  4. Diversify the playroom. ...
  5. Travel is great exposure. ...
  6. Explore and learn through books. ...
  7. Celebration is key.
Aug 12, 2022

How long should my diversity statement be? ›

A diversity statement is a polished, narrative statement, typically 1–2 pages in length, that describes one's accomplishments, goals, and process to advance excellence in diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging as a teacher and a researcher in higher education.

What is an example of an inclusion message? ›

We are committed to equal employment opportunity regardless of race, color, ancestry, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, age, citizenship, marital status, disability, gender identity or Veteran status.

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