What is a diversity statement?
The purpose of a diversity statement is to demonstrate that you have commitments and capacities to contribute to projects of inclusion and equity. It’s also an opportunity for you to highlight your understanding of barriers faced by under-represented or marginalized groups and your own experiences meeting the needs of diverse populations of peers.
Your background, influences, religious observances, language, ideas, work environment, community experiences, and how you think, or approach problems, all come together to create a unique individual who can contribute to a diverse world.
If applying for teaching positions, the key points are showing an understanding of historical barriers for under-represented groups; your past activities, contextualized, that contribute to diversity and equity; and, your future plans in this regard.
Preparation for writing a diversity statement
Self-reflect to identify what factors contribute to your identity to make you uniquely you. This includes your gender, sexuality, educational background, your family’s educational background, languages spoken, work and community experiences, ethnicity, religion, disability, how you think, and other distinguishing aspects.
Reflect on your life experiences that show what you have accomplished or difficulties that you have overcome. This can include work experiences, community service, leadership, military service, interactive travel experiences, and so on.
What to include in a diversity statement?
Answer the particular question being asked - not all diversity questions are the same!
Research the organization/institution that you’re applying to. Consider the organization’s definition(s) of “diversity” and their commitments to diversity - for example, what populations they are interested in attracting - so you can know your audience and can anticipate what information might be more interesting to them. If the definition is ambiguous, be sure to define it for yourself to focus your answer.
State your values as they relate to your understanding and commitment to diversity, equity, justice, and inclusion. Talk in first-person, self-reflect, and use concrete specific examples from your experience.
Tell your story- explain how you have overcome obstacles to get to where you are. Use your story to explain how you can empathize with others who confront challenges. Explain how your different experiences show diversity and inclusion. How have your experiences shaped you? Have you faced difficulties? Have you lived somewhere or been a part of something that has taught you different skills and perspectives?
Indicate how, in the future, you plan to advance inclusivity, diversity, or equity in your research, teaching or professional service.