The U-M Health System, known as Michigan Medicine, operates as a separate and semi-autonomous constituent of the University of Michigan. Its various departments account for 54 percent of the university’s 175 units.
In keeping with university-wide hiring practices—and the U-M’s decentralized structure—faculty hiring within Michigan Medicine occurs at the department level. As a result, hiring practices vary greatly, and not all units have implemented formal recruitment policies.
Specifically, the Michigan Medicine Recruitment Toolkit represents an effort on the part of executive leadership and DEI leads to assure greater diversity, equity and inclusion in the selection of faculty, research scientists and practitioners by creating a set of uniform, universally applicable guidelines for hiring across all units.
The Michigan Medicine Faculty Recruitment Toolkit is a comprehensive set of online resources that provide detailed, step-by-step guidance on how to structure effective committees and how to recruit and hire according to best practices. Components include:
- Required Checklist*
- Increasing awareness of gender bias and write a gender-neutral job description
- Choosing members and organize effective committees for recruitment and hiring
- Educating the recruitment committee on strategies to reduce unconscious bias
- Gathering and evaluating candidate reference information
- Framing behavior-based interview questions
- Guidelines for appropriate and off-limits questions related to DEI
- Handling campus visits
- Additional resources
* Currently, recruitment committees for senior positions (Divisional Directors and above) are required to complete this survey. However, the use of this survey for all faculty and practitioner recruitment efforts is strongly encouraged.
Identified by Michigan Medicine as a top priority and a signature initiative within its strategic plan, the Michigan Medicine Recruitment Toolkit is intended to provide all selection and recruitment committees with a set of “gold standard” resources.
The key objectives of the Recruitment Toolkit are to:
- Increase the use of “formal,” standardized training for members of all MM search and hiring committees
- Advance Michigan Medicine’s goal of intentional, broad-based diversity by expanding applicant pools across the organization
- Assure that recruiting no longer occurs in a vacuum
- Provide guidelines for strategic outreach to qualified candidates of all backgrounds
- Encourage departments to become more proactive in searching out talent
The Michigan Medicine Recruitment Toolkit was, by necessity and design, a broadly collaborative, cross-organizational effort. Initial planning and implementation were carried out by staff and faculty from key units within Michigan Medicine, among them:
- Faculty Development
- Faculty Affairs
- Human Resources
- Michigan Medicine Office of Communications
- UM–ADVANCE, a program that works directly with many departments, schools and colleges to support their efforts for positive change
In mapping out the program and creating elements of the Michigan Medicine Recruitment Toolkit, the work team—comprised of faculty and staff —followed a step-by-step process.
The first, essential and in some ways most difficult step involved defining, articulating and understanding the problem. Once that had been accomplished, the group:
1. Identified the specific needs being addressed
2. Tagged key stakeholders to be represented and included in the planning process
3. Assembled a work-team that included a faculty DEI lead, faculty members at large and a graduate student (“Administrative Fellow”) hired to research various topics, conduct an inventory of resources, scan pertinent literature, make recommendations, and help oversee content development for Toolkit components
4. Conducted a series of meetings with stakeholders
5. Created a working draft of the content
6. Gathered feedback from stakeholders
7. Launched and assessed a pilot program before releasing the Toolkit on an organization-wide basis
8. Incorporated pertinent feedback and additional data
The Michigan Medicine Recruitment Toolkit was launched over a two-year period through a cascading, step-down process that began with the most executive positions (i.e., the deans of each unit) and then applied to department chairs before moving down through the faculty ranks.
The implementation process was coordinated by the Recruitment Toolkit Planning Committee with support from administrative staff members.
The initial pilot program focused on unit deans, was in operation for approximately six months. This fairly extended time period was due, in large part, to the fact that openings for senior positions are relatively rare and occur on a limited basis.
Obtaining resources and staffing for the pilot program—and subsequent phases of the Recruitment Toolkit roll-out—posed no problems, since each individual unit is responsible for implementation and providing follow-up evaluations as part of Michigan Medicine’s DEI strategic plan.
For instance, to facilitate evaluation and assessment, each department is required to submit their completed Checklists.
By the end of year two, the Recruitment Toolkit was being used by every unit of Michigan Medicine for recruitment of faculty at the level of Division Chief and above. The ultimate goal is to extend the use of the Recruitment Toolkit for every faculty hire.
Evaluations conducted at the two-year point demonstrated a clear need for the Toolkit work team to develop detailed guidelines not only for only senior faculty, but for the executive staff who support those faculty on a daily basis.
Accordingly, the team expanded the Recruitment Toolkit components to include positions such as Chief Department Administrator and Chief Communications Officer.
The work team is currently in the process of developing a DEI Dashboard to capture metrics and measure the impact of the Recruitment Toolkit. During the initial phase of development, the group discovered that there was no central repository for faculty application and hiring data, as there is for Michigan Medicine staff hires.
Efforts are currently underway to develop a faculty data repository, along with other tools related to recruitment and hiring. Ultimately, the DEI Dashboard will make it possible to measure progress toward our goal of increasing the broad diversity of faculty within Michigan Medicine.
Lessons learned include:
The need for a system-wide approach
By far, the biggest lesson has involved logistics and the importance of approaching recruitment as “systems work” rather than a process of isolated hires.
We discovered that recruiting a dean or departmental chair could be done effectively only if key support staff were also fully engaged in the educational process that forms the heart of the Recruitment Toolkit.
Resist a sense of urgency
Our advice to other organizations seeking to implement a version of the Recruitment Toolkit is to be patient, persistent, and thorough. Understand that this process is truly a journey rather than a destination.
Be sure to provide ample time for piloting the program, and do not overlook or underestimate the importance of collecting and incorporating feedback in the early stages.
Be prepared to make a convincing case for a Recruitment Toolkit
Take every opportunity to spotlight your initiative, and keep the desired outcomes front and center. Reinforce the notion that this approach benefits not only every department but the entire organization, and that no educational institution can be excellent without being diverse.
Then leverage these arguments to justify the additional time, effort and mindfulness that implementation of the Recruitment Toolkit will require.
Don’t take shortcuts on the preliminary work
Lay the groundwork thoroughly. Take time to map out, in detail, the faculty hiring process at your institution.
Identify all the key touchpoints, from initial application to the final hire, and be alert for opportunities along the way to make improvements.