Discussions of diversity in higher education often focus narrowly on student populations, but demographic diversity among faculty and staff is also critical to the success of colleges and universities. Research shows that diverse companies and teams are more innovative and productive[1][2], and experimental evidence suggests that Whites tasked with making decisions affecting persons of color engage in more careful, considered, and conscientious decision-making when working in diverse groups[3]. Demographic diversity among faculty and staff is not only a byproduct of equitable hiring practices and a key source of diversity of perspective in the academic profession, it is also essential to engaging, educating, and inspiring increasingly diverse populations of undergraduate and graduate students.

At present, faculty and staff—particularly those in the upper ranks of faculty and administration—remain less racially and ethnically diverse than the student populations they serve. But the greater representation of women and people of color[4] in the junior ranks of faculty and administration may promise increased faculty and staff diversity in the years ahead.

Featured Finding

Academic Department Heads, by Race and Ethnicity

Academic department heads were much less diverse than full-time and part-time faculty. The majority of all academic department heads in 2018-19 were White (84.9 percent), 6.5 percent were Asian, 4.0 percent were Black or African American, 3.4 percent were Hispanic or Latino, and 1.3 percent were from some other racial or ethnic background.

[1] Lorenzo, Rocio, and Martin Reeves. 2018. “How and Where Diversity Drives Financial Performance.” Harvard Business Review, January 30, 2018.

[2] Hewlett, Sylvia Ann, Melinda Marshall, and Laura Sherbin. 2013. “How Diversity Can Drive Innovation.” Harvard Business Review, December.

[3] Anderson, Elizabeth S. 2010. The Imperative of Integration. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

[4] The term people of color includes American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander students, as well as individuals of more than one race.