Faculty Recruitment Strategies to Improve Diversity

03 Nov 2021

By Tanya Anand, MD, MPH and Elizabeth Shaughnessy, MD, PhD 

A diverse faculty is important for an institution’s continued growth and relevance to its community. Significant investment is required outside of the direct faculty job interview to improve diversity and achieve this goal. Each step of the recruitment process, i.e. the creation of the ideal candidate profile, recruitment of the search committee members, the active (not passive) hunt for the interested candidate, and the retention of that candidate are all equally important.  Successful diverse faculty recruitment strategies are ones emphasizing retention, as well. The “leaky pipeline” and the inequity of minorities at the upper echelons of academia are indicators of what we must overcome. With that said, successful faculty recruitment strategies are ones in which institutional leadership plays an active role, and where the organization ensures that growth is fostered and promotion does not lag. The recruitment process does not end when the contract is signed.

Equity in recruitment must be prioritized at every level of the organization for the effort to be meaningful and sustained. Departmental and institutional leadership needs to allocate resources to several large areas: 1) Choosing search committee members who will bring unique perspectives; 2) Actively widening the recruitment net and improving the diversity of the candidate pool; and 3) Once hired, investing resources in programs that mentor the under-represented minority faculty and providing role models and senior leadership advocates for his/her/their advancement.   

Search committee composition can influence the recruitment process. Guidelines typically do not detail criteria for representation that promote a critical mass of diverse individuals on the committee. These members may vary based on experience level, professional affiliation, role in their local community, or other stakeholders within the organization. They can serve as “equity advocates” and achieve a consensus on the candidate to create a more inclusive job description. Once assembled, the committee must identify the needs of the community and the organization to create the ideal candidate profile for the search.

Active rather than passive recruitment practices should be encouraged. The amount of effort placed on recruiting a diverse faculty member is really the most visible indicator of the organization’s commitment to the cause. The search should be broad, i.e, potentially creating a wider job description, and ads should be placed in arenas where underrepresented minorities will have greater exposure to the job announcement. This includes contacting professional organizations with a strong commitment to diversity, networking within the field, and actively reaching out to trainees soon to be entering the job market.

Retention of talented individuals from diverse backgrounds is critical. Thus, an aggressive and early mentoring plan tailored to the candidate’s needs is vital. In addition, the individual recruit should have a senior advocate to guide the faculty member through the process. This is important for retention of diverse faculty and potentiates further recruitment of individuals from underrepresented backgrounds. At the end of the day, the goal is to improve the care and service delivered to the community. This is best accomplished with diverse individuals united toward a common goal.


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Dr. Tanya Anand, MD, MPH is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University from Arizona.  She is originally from Southern California. She attained her undergraduate degree from Loma Linda University and worked for several years as a licensed Clinical Laboratory Scientist.  Concomitantly, she completed her MPH degree at the University of Southern California, with an interest in health policy and epidemiology.  She completed medical school at St. George’s University in Grenada, WI, and did her residency at Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield, California. Her interest in Trauma, Acute Care Surgery, and Critical Care led her to complete a 2-year fellowship at the University of Arizona. Her research areas of interest are diverse and seek to improve all aspects of care of the critically ill trauma, acute care, and burn patient.  She is interested in understanding the impact of inflammation upon resuscitation and glycocalyx integrity in the critically ill trauma patient.  In addition, she has a passion for exploring avenues to improve patient equity in healthcare access.  She is certified by the American Board of Surgery in General Surgery and Surgical Critical Care; She is a member of multiple professional societies, including the American College of Surgeons, Association of Women Surgeons, and the American Medical Association. 

Dr. Beth Shaughnessy, MD, PhD  was born and raised in the Chicago area, with her undergraduate years spent at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She returned to Chicago for medical school at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Following general surgery residency at the University of Illinois’ program, including Cook County Hospital, she pursued a fellowship in surgical oncology at the City of Hope National Cancer Center outside of Los Angeles.  She is currently a professor of surgery at the University of Cincinnati.  Her research interests include understanding aspects of benign breast disease as it relates to cancer development, as well as environmental influences.  Dr. Shaughnessy has long been involved with the Association of Women Surgeons; she serves as the newly installed president.  She lives with her husband in Cincinnati, with their son away at college. She enjoys yoga, bicycling, the arts, and gardening.

Our blog is a forum for our members to speak, and as such, statements made here represent the opinions of the author and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association of Women Surgeons.