New Study Finds Zero Evidence That Hiring a Chief Diversity Officer Produces More Diversity on Campus

"We are unable to find significant statistical evidence that preexisting growth in diversity... is affected by hiring an executive level diversity officer."


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Campus diversity czars frequently draw massive salaries. The University of Michigan's chief diversity officer, for example, rakes in $396,000 a year.

Is that money well spent? Probably not. A new study went looking for evidence that employing a chief diversity official produced a more diverse faculty and came back empty-handed.

"We are unable to find significant statistical evidence that preexisting growth in diversity for underrepresented racial/ethnic minority groups is affected by the hiring of an executive level diversity officer," write the study's authors, a team of researchers associated with Baylor University.

The team looked at data from 2001 to 2016. Over that time period, universities hired a lot of chief diversity officers, but this did not correlate with diversity-related faculty hiring.

Possibly sensing that these findings will likely offend many administrators, lead author Steven Bradley defended the research in an interview with Inside Higher Ed. He stressed that he wasn't saying diversity czars are bad for diversity—just that he couldn't produce any evidence that they were good for it.

"We believe more work must be done to better understand barriers to increased diversity, and how they might be best addressed," the study concludes.

Note that this study looked only at racial and ethnic diversity. Fostering intellectual diversity is not generally part of a campus diversity officer's job description.