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Equity in Hiring

Message from Dr. Georgina Dodge, Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion to UMD Equity Officers around equity in hiring practices, sent Wednesday, March 11, 2020. An updated message, dated Wednesday, March 18, is available here: Updated Equity Search Information.

Dear Equity Officers,

Current and upcoming hiring interviews in your units may be impacted as universities and individuals cancel or postpone travel due to health concerns. This could raise equity issues for your process, and I recommend that you discuss with your hiring officials, deans or unit heads to ensure that you are following equitable guidelines. Please note that travel has NOT been banned, but some individuals may feel reluctant to do so and others may have been asked not to travel by their current employers. While situations may need to be considered on a case-by-case basis, our equity guidelines continue to apply.

Should you move forward with in-person interviews, please be in contact with candidates to keep them apprised about what's happening on our campus and in the community. Communicate and take actionable steps to protect candidates and all who meet with them. Consider replacing the handshake with elbow bumps (we have been referring to it as the "corona bump"), having hand sanitizer and tissue visibly present at interview sites, keeping groups meetings small to enable physical distancing, and providing the candidate with ample opportunities to visit the washroom. Please remember that interviewing is a highly-stressful activity and providing candidates time to practice self-care may help to alleviate, in part, the added stress of contracting a virus. You may need to remind search committees that the candidates and their experiences are our priority.

As you have probably heard, many tech companies (Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc.) are conducting video interviews only. This is something to consider as long as the process is applied equitably to all candidates. While conducting video interviews, we recommend you use the approved systems provided and supported by the Division of IT, including Zoom and Webex. Also be sure to verify in advance that candidates have the resources needed on their end to participate in a video interview, and ensure that you are providing any accommodations candidates may need to participate in an alternate process. Be aware and prepared for video interviews to become the norm if conditions worsen across the country. At the current time, you may be in a situation where some candidates wish to visit while others do not. This is at the discretion of the candidate, but you must make sure that all are presented with the same opportunities and that you have documentation of equitable practices.

Again, I recognize that some of you may be dealing with unique situations and urge you to reach out to me, John Bertot, or Cynthia Edmunds for consultation. While the coronavirus impact on our interviews may be unwelcome, it does provide us with an opportunity to examine our processes and ensure they are truly best practices. Thank you for the work that you do to make that so.


Georgina Dodge, PhD
Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion