Building a Diverse and Inclusive Team

November 14, 2018

By Aaron Bruce

Diverse TeamNational Career Development Month is in full swing, and NAFSA continues its month-long series of career-focused blog posts with a guest post from Aaron Bruce--diversity, inclusion, and equity officer at San Diego State University and a 2015 participant in NAFSA’s Diversity Impact Program--discussing the importance of building diverse and inclusive teams:

As the demographics of college-going students continue to shift towards a more diverse population, the need for new perspectives in the recruitment and hiring of employees is becoming more prevalent. Universities and third-party providers are thinking seriously about how to better recruit, engage, and support the emerging populations of historically underrepresented students. The inclusion of new skills and perspectives in the workplace is offering organizations competitive strategies to help them thrive. These inclusive strategies are helping organizations increase participation, mitigate risk, and create innovative inclusive programming.

The journey toward building a diverse and inclusive team is not a sprint, but more like a marathon. And National Career Development Month seems like an ideal time to begin training! So, on November 29, I will join with fellow panelists Lily Lopez-McGee and Chyvonne Gibson to host a special Collegial Conversation on Hiring for Diversity: Strategies to Strengthen Recruitment and Hiring Efforts. We will be touching on numerous topics about hiring for diversity during the Collegial Conversation, but we wanted to throw a few out there beforehand to get the conversation started.

Recruit Beyond Comfort

Most recruiters search for candidates in networks where they are most comfortable and familiar. During the Collegial Conversation we will share best practices for widening your search and collaborating on campus to tap into untapped networks.

Look at Diversity and Inclusion Holistically

Diversity and inclusion in hiring is multidimensional. The days of simply checking off a box to describe who we are does not take into account our unique lived experiences and their intersections. Differences in ability, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, religion, age, race, ethnicity, and gender are all valuable to the success of an organization.

Evaluate Your List of Required and Preferred Skills

Are the absence of previous study abroad professional experience and lack of speaking a second language deal breakers? Maybe the candidate only did a short-term study abroad? Perhaps they were in the military? Although we think our path deserves the brightest spotlight, there are multiple pathways to success in global education. Different perspectives and transferable skills add important sabor (flavor) to the success and group dynamics of the department. Focus on transferable skills and consider adding some new preferred qualities to the list in the job posting:

  • Proven experience in engaging historically underrepresented students;
  • A strong understanding of diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice;
  • A powerful commitment to inclusive practices in global education.

You might encounter a candidate who has stellar experience engaging historically underrepresented diverse populations, brilliant presentation, organizational, and marketing skills. Perhaps participation in the NAFSA Diversity Impact Program will support their professional growth in the position.

We hope you’ll join us on November 29 to discuss further!


Aaron Bruce, PhD, is the diversity, inclusion, and equity officer at San Diego State University.


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