Why Should I Write a DEI Statement?
As UT professors Charlotte Canning and Richard Reddick wrote in their Chronicle of Higher Education piece, "...the exercise of writing, reviewing, and committing to a statement of equity, diversity, and inclusion can be instructive to all members of the academic community, not only those who hold marginalized identities." In fact, much of the work around service, mentoring, and research has been disproportionately shouldered by historically marginalized persons at universities, creating a "cultural taxation" (Padilla, 1994) on the often-invisible labor they perform. Canning and Reddick state, "[in] response, the university must acknowledge that diversity work is in fact critical to the values that have led to progress - and that it must be shared by all members in the academic community." Reflecting and committing to paper what your goals, actions, and plans around diversity, equity, and inclusion are just one of the ways in which you can advance these efforts. Writing a DEI statement can promote further reflection on the strategies you use in your teaching, exhibit how you engage in DEI efforts through your service, research and mentorship, and reveal opportunities for commitment that you might want to explore more.
As institutions become more intentional in their efforts to create and uphold practices regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion on college campuses, faculty and graduate students are invited to explain how their experiences and values align with the institution, the students they serve, and their broader efforts in the community. Dr. Tabbye Chavous explains:
Asking faculty candidates to submit statements about how equity, diversity, and inclusion factor into their teaching, research and service as exercising truth in advertising. It doesn't quite make sense to affirm diversity as underpinning the institutional mission, while not giving candidates the opportunity to talk about and be credited for their efforts. (as quoted in Flaherty, 2018)
In short, everyone has something to contribute. No matter one's research area, discipline, or various intersecting social identities, each person should think about and articulate how advancing issues around diversity, equity, and inclusion are apparent in their work and future initiatives.
What Should I Include in My DEI Statement?
A DEI statement will ideally address multiple facets of how your values and experiences advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in your work. It is customary to write the statement in first person. Given the brief amount of time reviewers may have to look at your application, the statement should be a maximum of two-pages in length (single-spaced) and include an introductory paragraph, topic sentences that capture the main point of each paragraph, and a conclusion that ties the distinct facets of your statement together as a whole. Refrain from using buzzwords, jargon, or vague statements (e.g., "I love working with all students").
To aid you in writing your DEI statement, we have provided brief descriptions of five different topics to consider addressing in your statement below. There are no requirements that you must address all of these topics, and you are not limited to only discussing these perspectives. Your statement should reflect the relative importance of these issues to your work and reveal your personal commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.