Diversity statements have quickly become an important element of application packages for various roles in higher education, including post-docs, faculty positions, or administrative roles. Despite its popularity, it's hard to find concrete guidance on writing a diversity statement, be it the kind of information that goes into it, addressing your own identities, or even how to define a diversity statement.

To address these questions, Troy Kearse, the DEI Chair of the SPSP Student Committee, organized and moderated a webinar titled "How to Craft A Compelling Diversity Statement". The event featured three panelists across career stages who shared their views on the topic—Dr. Lisa M. Brown, member of SPSP's Board of Directors and Dean of Social Sciences and Professor at Austin College; Dr. Jillian Lauer, an Assistant Professor at the University of Cambridge; and Dr. Markus Brauer, Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Read on for a summary of their advice on the dos and don'ts of a diversity statement, then make sure to check out the full recorded session here!


  • Departments usually post a prompt for their diversity statement. These prompts vary in terms of the perspective they are seeking from the candidate, what aspect of the candidate's self and work they are interested in, etc. Read these carefully, because they will give you a hint at what the search committee is looking for. Then, tailor your statement to the specific prompt, and additionally, to DEI aspects of the specific position you're applying to. For example, diversity issues at a primarily teaching position would be somewhat different from those at a research-focused institution
  • Most (if not all) institutions have their own diversity goals. Look up this information of the institution and department's website and cater to them in your statement
  • For faculty positions, communicate in your statement that you've given some thought to how you might address the specific diversity needs of the student population at that institution. For example, if you're applying to an institution with a significant proportion of first-generation college students or non-traditional learners, consider how you might tailor your pedagogical approach to cater to the challenges faced by students from these backgrounds
  • When discussing aspects of your own identities, link them to broader DEI issues. Be specific about how they connect to structural issues in the field or higher education in general, and how they influenced your awareness, approach, or commitment to diversity-related work. It's important to do this work in the statement to put your identities into perspective for the reader, lest this becomes a second personal statement in your package, instead of a diversity statement.
  • Demonstrate humility and openness in your approach to working on diversity issues


  • Avoid virtue signaling and playing the savior.
  • Don't try to fake it. If you haven't taken any specific actions that can display your commitment to DEI, or done any work on your individual self in terms of educating yourself, training, etc. then don't suggest otherwise by trying to use the right buzzwords. The inauthenticity is going to come through at some point, and it won't look good. Instead, whatever stage you're in, make a real effort to gain awareness and understand the diversity issues plaguing our field, and educate yourself on how you might contribute to working against structural barriers and inequality.
  • Don't claim to understand the experiences of members of marginalized groups if you actually don't, and don't claim to be a part of a marginalized group if you're not. Remember, truly comprehending the ways in which we are privileged is an integral part of DEI work too.
  • Stay away from language that harkens to problematic matters like color-blindness, respectability politics, or diminishing the experiences of people who have been oppressed, to name a few.
  • This is just a general writing tip—avoid long, superfluous sentences when crisp, concise language would serve you better

More information about SPSP initiatives related to diversity and inclusion is available here.