Hiring our first Network Manager - the process for equitable recruiting

Posted by Sarah Reed on Friday, March 19 2021


Editor's note: The following piece was co-authored by Sarah Reed, Erin Lloyd, Laine Kuehn, Ekow Edzie and Maria Martinez.

We have completed our search for the newly reimagined role of Network Manager within the foundation. We look forward to introducing you to our new colleague soon! In the meantime, we are writing to share about the best practices for equitable recruiting that we employed in our search process. The purpose of this post is to be transparent about the policies and practices we are adopting to advance equity and justice within the foundation and to provide members of the Switzer Network with resources to support hiring processes within your own organizations.

  • We convened a search committee that was diverse by gender, race, and role in the foundation. This was important not only to ensure representation of varied backgrounds and perspectives in the decision making process, but also to reflect the fact that the Network Manager will be collaborating with members of the Switzer Network as much as with foundation staff.

  • We conducted broad and intensive outreach at the start of the search, in particular to the extended professional networks of Switzer Fellows, our peer fellowship networks, and colleagues working in the network cultivation space, and we documented our recruitment efforts. We will use what we learned from the Network Manager search to develop a systematic and robust process to recruit the widest possible range of qualified candidates for future positions.

  • We were transparent about the comparative data we used to establish a salary range for the Network Manager position, and we did not request a salary history from applicants. This is important to help close gender and racial pay gaps in our field, as well as the pay gap between foundations and nonprofits. In the future, we aim to publish the actual salary range for every new position we announce.

  • We applied rubrics for evaluation of candidates at the application and interview stages. The purpose of a rubric is to structure and standardize the review process as much as possible among committee members and candidates, in order to reduce subjectivity and minimize bias. Evaluation criteria focus on the candidates’ knowledge, skills, and abilities in relation to the job requirements and are drawn directly from the position description.

  • We structured the interview process as much as possible to reduce possible bias. We conducted panel interviews with the full search committee. We used a standardized list of questions for all interviews, and we minimized follow-up questions and prompting. We evaluated candidates’ responses using a rubric (described above), and we did not discuss candidates until all interviews were complete. 

  • We committed to maintain a candidate slate that was diverse by gender, race, and career stage at all stages of the review process, and our committee reached consensus about all candidates that were invited for interviews and offered the position. Our ability to maintain a diverse candidate slate was challenged by disproportionate representation of women (81%), white candidates (73%), and later-career candidates (69%) in the applicant pool, a gender and racial distribution that mirrors representation in the environmental field as a whole. Expanding representation in job search processes further highlights the importance of outreach and recruitment, and we commit to invest in equitable hiring pathways for the foundation and the environmental field in the future.

We apply similar practices to minimize bias in our selection of new Switzer Fellows. A concern has been raised that, although they may promote more equitable outcomes, practices such as standardized questions and panel interviews can create a cold and intimidating experience, especially for early-career candidates or candidates from backgrounds underrepresented in the environmental field. In this case, we incorporated warmth and relatability by modeling the foundation’s values and practices in how we held the conversations. Specifically, we opened each interview similarly to how we open Switzer Network events, with introductions including personal details, a set of working agreements emphasizing the candidate’s comfort, and a clear description of what to expect during the conversation. We found that strict adherence to a standardized set of questions does create an additional barrier to creating connection with interviewees, but felt that the methods we employed to create a welcoming space mitigated those challenges. Overall, we felt the gains to creating more equity in our process outweighed the costs of additional effort required to put interviewees at ease.

Below we have listed the sources we consulted as we developed our search process. We know that many of you are experts in equitable recruiting or are actively engaged in modifying your organizations’ recruitment practices. We welcome your feedback on our process and encourage continued discussion about best practices to promote equity in environmental job searches.


Beasley. 2016. Diversity Derailed: Limited Demand, Effort and Results in Environmental C-Suite Searches. https://diversegreen.org/research/diversity-derailed/

Bohnet. 2016. How to Take the Bias Out of Interviews. https://hbr.org/2016/04/how-to-take-the-bias-out-of-interviews?utm_campaign=harvardbiz&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social

Le. 2015. When You Don’t Disclose Salary Range on a Job Posting a Unicorn Loses its Wings. https://nonprofitaf.com/2015/06/when-you-dont-disclose-salary-range-on-a-job-posting-a-unicorn-loses-its-wings/

Le. 2020. Not showing the salary range in job postings is archaic and inequitable. So why do we keep doing it? https://generocity.org/philly/2020/09/14/nonprofit-af-not-showing-the-salary-range-in-job-postings-is-archaic-and-inequitable-so-why-do-we-keep-doing-it/

McGhee, Mayo and Park. 2018. Demos’ Racial Equity Transformation: Key Components, Processes & Lessons. https://www.demos.org/research/demos-racial-equity-transformation-key-components-process-lessons

Taylor. 2014. The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations. https://diversegreen.org/research/the-challenge/

University of Washington. 2021. Candidate Review and Selection (including sample rubric). https://www.washington.edu/diversity/staffdiv/hiring-toolkit/candidate-review-selection/

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