Updated Equity Search Information

March 18, 2020

Message from Dr. Georgina Dodge, Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion to UMD Equity Officers around equity in hiring practices, sent Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

Dear Equity Officers,

First and foremost, I hope that you and yours are well, both physically and mentally. Please observe recommended health practices, such as frequent hand washing and social distancing. If you are like me, you may need to disconnect from the current news cycle: I have identified a couple of valid sources—the CDC and World Health Organization—and am trying to tune out much of the other noise swirling around. It is important that you practice self-care, whether meditation, yoga, exercise; whatever provides you with solace or stress relief.

To say these are unprecedented times is an understatement, and the impact on your work as Equity Officers is enormous. Our hiring process is important and must continue, yet you may be dealing with upset hiring officials, disorganized search committees, or distressed candidates, all while trying to function in an unfamiliar online environment. Please breathe.

I am updating the guidance I provided you on March 11, which is posted on the ODI website here: Equity in Hiring, and will be joined by this one. Moving forward, you should be prepared to conduct all interviews online only. The increased restrictions on travel require us to be flexible to meet the potential needs of all qualified candidates. As you may know, the Metro and other forms of state public transit are limiting ridership to health care workers and others for whom travel is essential, so even local candidates may not have the means to travel to campus. And in-person social distancing can lead to awkward interactions that could create bias and invalid impressions of candidates and vice versa.

Most candidates will be grateful that they do not need to risk exposure by appearing in person. If you are at the beginning of a search, you can ensure equity through a consistently-applied process for all candidates. Here is a link to a basic resource for conducting online interviews. I do not subscribe to all aspects of this guidance (the body language section doesn't consider cultural differences) but it is a good primer, particularly the section about setting-up before the interview.

How to Conduct an Online Interview

In the event that you are in the midst of a search and some candidates have already appeared on campus, you will need to determine whether you wish to continue moving forward. Should you do so, you should make clear to candidates exactly what is happening. Again, most will not want to appear in person and may request an online interview; please be sure to document that request as well as all other exchanges as you work through the process. Then move forward, ensuring that the online experience is the equivalent (to the extent possible) of the in-person interviews. For example, if colleagues took candidates to meals, that time should be spent online with the designated colleagues and the candidate in more informal conversation; you could even plan in advance for all to break bread together at the same time during the online meeting. This is an opportunity to be creative while ensuring equitable treatment for all candidates.

Again, please reach out to me, John Bertot, or Cynthia Edmunds if you have any questions or concerns. We want to ensure your work continues successfully, and we want to protect you, your colleagues, our candidates, and all with whom we are in contact. Be safe and do take care of yourselves.

Sincerely,

Georgina Dodge, PhD
Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion