Building Your Diversity Statement
Dr. Danny M. D’Amore, Publications and Marketing Specialist
If you are getting ready to apply to a faculty position or a large funding body, you might find yourself being asked to write a diversity statement. Though relatively short, these statements are meaningful, personal, and can often impact how you transition to further stages of the review process. They can also seem intimidating if you have never had to write one before. Therefore, in this article, we help you navigate how to craft a professional and thoughtful diversity statement.
What is a diversity statement?
A diversity statement is a short document that illustrates your personal experiences and your commitment to engage or enhance the community’s overall diversity. If you are being requested to include this statement, you can be confident the university or funding body is committed to diversity themselves and will take your answer seriously. There are three main components to a diversity statement: 1) your personal values and experiences relating to diversity; 2) your experience with inclusivity and working with diverse populations; and 3) how you plan to continue and expand upon these actions in the role you are applying for.
Start with something personal
When outlining your diversity statement, start with what you know. Tell a story relating to your personal experiences with diversity; if you grew up barred from certain opportunities, mention those details. If you were raised with privilege, acknowledge your background. Awareness is important, so do not draw false parallels; it is not advisable to compare being excluded from a sports team in childhood to the experience of a newly arrived immigrant and the challenges they might face.
Outside of your story, make sure you are also clear in your personal values regarding diversity and inclusivity. The readers will be very interested in where you stand on this and how you will mesh with their current ideals; therefore, you do not want your readers to be unsure of your meaning.
Highlight your working experience relating to diversity
Your future commitment is going to be assessed, and therefore showing off your track record is an excellent way to demonstrate what you could bring to the table at your new institution. This is the place to explain how you have fostered inclusivity at prior positions. Discuss any initiatives or programs you took part in to support institutional diversity. Keep your focus on socially accepted forms of equity; these issues include disability, gender, race, sexual orientation, and social class. These are difficult topics to broach and discomfort is natural; avoid the temptation to water these topics down, as this will not lead to a good first impression on your readers.
Look to the future
After you have covered your outlook as well as your past experiences, it is important to continue your train of thought into what you will continue to do if awarded this position or these funds. Make sure to take the time to observe the institution’s current diversity or inclusivity statements; these should be a great starting point for inspiring your future work. Include what the university (or funding body) is already doing to support diversity and expand upon their mission. You do not need to reinvent the wheel, but the initiative to go further will help you stand out amongst the crowd.
Inclusivity can range from outreach to the recognition of colleagues or students, so take your time and really consider how you want to make an impact. Once you are done drafting your statement, ask a friend or trusted colleague to read your work and make sure your ideas have translated well into writing. A diversity statement might seem like another obstacle between you and a potential job, but it can be an important place to make a strong impression.