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Talk Data to Me: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Recruiting and Hiring Practices

Human Capital Management

The Frontline Research and Learning Institute recently surveyed district and school administrators regarding their organization’s past, present, and future focus of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). We heard from 567 respondents representing 49 states and small and large public, private, and charter schools. 84.4% of respondents answered very important or important when asked to rate the important of “DE&I as it relates to your school/district’s planning for programs and practices.” Though this data has vast implications, for this iteration of Talk Data to Me, we asked: How might this survey data inform recruiting and hiring practices?

What Can Districts Do to Advance Equity?

Over 63% of respondents indicated that their organization is actively working to diversify their employee base; but how? Many actions were noted to have already been taken to advance equity as it relates to their recruiting and hiring practices. The table below details the most common.

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Further, an additional 19.75% of respondents indicated that their organizations have plans to “revisit and update hiring practices inclusive of DE&I programs” and 19.58% indicated plans to “look for additional candidate sources to proactively attract diverse candidates.”

By far, the most common action taken by respondents was not in what talent they are recruiting, but where they are recruiting the talent from. 57.96% of respondents indicated that they are relying on different candidate sources in hopes to advance equity than they were previously. Which referral sources have been most effective at recruiting diverse candidates?

How a Robust Recruiting and Hiring Solution Can Help

Job seekers want DE&I, too. Over 86% of job seekers who use Frontline’s Recruiting & Hiring, K12 Job Spot, and Frontline Central find working “in a school that values diversity and inclusion” important. Further, over 96% of job seekers noted that working “in a collaborative and supportive environment” and “with supportive coworkers” were important to them. So, how can a comprehensive recruiting and hiring solution help you find your desired candidates to meet your DE&I goals?

Software like Frontline Recruiting & Hiring and Frontline Central allows you to:

  • Post to a job board designed for K12 education professionals
  • Proactively recruit from a large pool of education professionals
  • Create automated recruiting campaigns to reach new candidates
  • Reach tens of thousands of licensed educators who are in your state or interested in relocating
  • Send personalized messages to any candidates who meet your criteria
  • Increase your online presence and attract more millennial educators
  • Cast a wider net and attract the best applicants, even for hard-to-fill positions
  • Easily sort and filter to find the best candidates


Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging explained

You hear a lot about the importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB), or Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ). You may intuitively understand the value of a culturally diverse classroom where children learn to respect others and appreciate differences, but interpretations may differ. Here are a few simple ones.

  • Diversity means that children and staff from all races, cultural backgrounds, and ethnicity make up the community in a school setting. One race or ethnic group tends to be the majority, while others fall into smaller demographic groups. Viewed in a positive light, diversity provides multiple sources of creativity and innovation and can pave the way for equity and inclusion.
  • Equity is frequently confused with equality. Merriam-Webster defines equal as like in quality, nature, or status. In the context of DEI, it can be helpful to take a different approach in order to get to the heart of equity: visualize people of varying heights standing behind a fence and trying to see over it. Perhaps the tallest people can see over it because they are taller than the fence. Others might need to stand on a box to see over it, and some would need to stack two or more boxes together and climb on top to see over the fence.In this scenario, tall people have advantages over shorter ones. Equity could be reached by designing a fence with varying heights or providing boxes to anyone who needs them. The goal is the same for everyone: to be able to see over the fence. But what each individual needs in order to achieve that goal is inherently different.Equity addresses systemic challenges facing different individuals.
  • Inclusion means just what it sounds like. Tall, medium, and short people all contribute to the group and deserve recognition and appreciation. The same is true for people with different skin colors, religious beliefs, and cultural heritages.
  • Belonging is about being accepted and valued as part of the group. When you successfully plant seeds for diversity, equity, and inclusion, employees are more likely to reach belonging. It’s inherently subjective, so it requires a foundation of trust to get a sense of how employees are actually feeling at your district.

As our world becomes increasingly diverse, academic and social success depends on embracing change and turning it into an advantage. To ensure diversity among employees, districts must devise innovative strategies to not only hire teachers who truly represent their communities, but also ensure your district culture is a place where everyone can thrive. Your district’s culture and the ways it impacts each of your teachers likely reflects the ways that your culture impacts your students.

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The importance of a diverse educator workforce

Evidence points to a disconnect between the increasingly diverse demographics of students and the lack of diversity among teaching and administrative staff.

It makes a difference when K-12 students experience at least one teacher who shares their cultural and racial backgrounds. Current research findings show that those students are likely to have higher test scores, lower rates of chronic absenteeism, fewer suspensions, higher recommendation rates for gifted and talented programs, higher rates of enrollment in advanced courses, and higher rates of high school graduation and college enrollment. In fact, it benefits all students to see and experience diversity in their teachers and administrators.

How can diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) fit into strategic human capital management (HCM)?

As an elevated focus on DEIB spreads through schools, organizations, and communities across the country, there is increased awareness of diversity’s impact on student outcomes: increasing the diversity of school administrators, educators, and staff can improve student outcomes.

The fallback axiom “this is how we’ve always done it” — especially for HR teams — isn’t necessarily compatible with this new way of thinking about the people working in schools. It’s helpful to examine your current practices and agree on a plan of action to achieve better outcomes. Adding another layer to strategic human capital management can help you meet your needs.

  1. While every department has its tasks, everyone needs to work collaboratively to meet common DEIB goals.

  3. Leaders must be willing to examine their DEI data and then, when necessary, change procedures, priorities, roles, and responsibilities accordingly. This also means, of course, that you’ll need to start with some baseline data to set your district up for success.

  5. The value of a connected HCM system is that it allows users to access all the tools. For example, if the HR staff is familiar with professional development, they can attract a deeper pool of applicants by offering potential candidates a wider range of opportunities. During onboarding, departments can collaborate to welcome and support new hires and help connect them to their school communities.

  7. Productive collaboration between departments is the new normal. Departments responsible for recruiting, hiring, and onboarding also need to know about managing time and attendance, absences, positions. Understanding compensation and benefits, along with evaluation and professional learning, helps the business office support new employees. In other words, the whole staff needs to be on the same page. The old “If it’s good for kids, we’ll do it.”” should be replaced with “How will we hire, support, and retain the best teachers and administrators for our kids?” In high-performing schools and districts, hiring top-quality and diverse talent will become the touchstone that guides all departments.

School systems are at different stages of considering, planning, implementing, and integrating DEIB principles. The most successful programs are anchoring their approach to human capital management strategy in data. To apply that data effectively and navigate the significant and potentially sensitive issues and opportunities that a DEIB-aligned human capital management strategy presents, districts will benefit from investing in quality HCM software.

Schools face new challenges

Running a school district can seem like a game of whack-a-mole. As soon as you identify and address an issue, another suddenly pops up. Fluctuations in funding and growing staff shortages are not unusual, but the pandemic brought a whole new set of challenges. The mental and physical health of students and staff surfaced as a major concern, along with learning loss and an increased focus on DEIB issues.

Rather than being reactive, education leaders must think more strategically to identify viable solutions. Implementing a comprehensive K-12 human capital, business operations, and student management system can help keep that whack-a-mole game under control and lead to increased student success.

Frontline Education

Frontline Education provides school administration software partnering with over 12,000 K-12 organizations and millions of educators, administrators and support personnel in their efforts to develop the next generation of learners. With more than 15 years of experience serving the front line of education, Frontline Education is dedicated to providing actionable intelligence that enables informed decisions and drives engagement across school systems. Bringing together the best education software solutions into one unified platform, Frontline makes it possible to efficiently and effectively manage the administrative needs of the education community, including their recruiting and hiring, employee absences and attendance, professional growth and special education and interventions programs. Frontline Education corporate headquarters are in Malvern, Pennsylvania, with offices in Andover, Massachusetts, Rockville Centre, New York and Chicago, Illinois.