Study: Hiring a Diversity Officer Doesn’t Increase a University’s Faculty Diversity

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A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research revealed that the hiring of diversity officers at universities does not increase faculty diversity.

Breitbart News has written extensively about the growth of diversity offices on college campuses. Take, for example, the University of Michigan — whose diversity office has an $11 million payroll for its 100 employees. The newly appointed Vice President of Diversity at Ohio University will make $200,000 per year. And this isn’t an unusual salary for those in such a position. Chief diversity officer positions are popping up all around the country, and those filling the positions are earning well over six figures.

But a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research should have those officers sweating. The study, which was published in August, argues that the presence of a chief diversity officer does little to improve faculty diversity.

As the American college student population has become more diverse, the goal of hiring a more diverse faculty has received increased attention in higher education. A signal of institutional commitment to faculty diversity often includes the hiring of an executive level chief diversity officer (CDO). To examine the effects of a CDO in a broad panel data context, we combine unique data on the initial hiring of a CDO with publicly available faculty and administrator hiring data by race and ethnicity from 2001 to 2016 for four-year or higher U.S. universities categorized as Carnegie R1, R2, or M1 institutions with student populations of 4,000 or more. We are unable to find significant statistical evidence that preexisting growth in diversity for underrepresented racial/ethnic minority groups is affected by the hiring of an executive level diversity officer for new tenure and non-tenure track hires, faculty hired with tenure, or for university administrator hires.

Study author Steven Bradley, a professor of entrepreneurship at Baylor University, said that universities establish a chief diversity officer position in order to “signal” their commitment to diversity.

Higher education “has a rapidly growing trend of establishing chief diversity officers as a signal of commitment to increased faculty diversity. Given it is a key job function of the position, and there is a high [salary] price tag associated with the effort, it seemed worthwhile to examine whether there was a significant difference in diversity hiring trends before and after a CDO (or similar position) hire,” Bradley said.

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