You need a personal diversity statement


You may one day be asked for a personal statement on diversity. In fact, you may have already been asked for one. These statements are becoming a routine part of the application process in employment, education, and many grants. During the collective action day, David Hawkins-Jacinto, PhD, of Writing and Rhetoric Studies, examined why these statements are so important and how exactly you write one.

Let’s start with the why. Many of us are already doing diversity work. As students, faculty, and staff, we make decisions every day that impact how our work contributes to a more equitable academic community and to society as a whole. These actions should be documented to help us mark our progress and move us forward, not just as a monolith, but as individuals.

A personal diversity statement helps you keep track of the work you have done, are doing, and plan to do in the future. Very often, this work is done “in the background”. It’s not documented how we do the research, or the curriculum, or the work history. Yet it is just as important. Your personal statement gives your diversity work the importance it deserves and communicates your commitment to continuing the work. “It makes invisible work very apparent,” Hawkins-Jacinto said. “It brings more clarity and transparency to how your thinking informs your practice.”

Your personal statement isn’t just about documenting the work – it’s also about acknowledging that there is still much to do. Presenting a personal diversity statement can open up dialogue among others and help those who need to develop greater skills in working with diversity. It can also serve as a reminder that diversity work cannot be an afterthought, but rather must be considered every day, with every action.

Hawkins-Jacinto and the Senate Advisory Committee (SAC-EDI) he represents encourage faculty to view their diversity statements as a “diversity action plan and practices (DAPP).” Why? This shifts diversity from ideological to active. It also gives the document greater clarity of purpose and aligns with other common reporting instruments such as research plans, course outlines, and curriculum vitae.

Hawkins-Jacinto says that when creating your DAPP, be aware that you are not expected to perform all aspects of diversity work. This is a statement of approximately 400-700 words. It’s not a magnum opus. Instead, writers should focus on the aspects that are most important to them and the key work they have done. “There’s no right way to write a DAPP,” Hawkins-Jacinto said. “It’s something everyone will do differently to show what they’re doing specifically to advance equitable access.”

Some things you may want to include in your DAPP are any efforts you have made to advance the status of marginalized groups, outreach activities you have been involved in, and other concrete accomplishments. Personal stories are great accompaniments, but not necessary. Above all, be sure to use an active voice and tone. “Diversity work is an active process,” Hawkins-Jacinto said. “We talk about what we do as well as what we have done.”

There are many resources to help you create your DAPP, both on campus and off. the Office for Inclusive Excellence is an excellent starting point, as is the Center of Excellence in Teaching and Learning. You can also check with your department or college for their own EDI resources. However, wherever you start, remember that you are moving the needle not just for yourself and your career, but for those who come after you and need you to champion the importance of diversity work.


Comments are closed.