Managing Diversity and Equality in a University

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about the university

University X, like many quality focused universities around the world, has engaged itself for over two decades to be inclusive towards diversity in its students and staff because of the benefits that the phenomenon has to offer in terms of student productivity, an enhanced learning environment and also employment productivity. The university offers a corporate level and functional level strategy for planning, implementation and control of its various diversity initiatives. This has been primarily a response to the drastic legal and social developments relating to ethnic, gender and disabilities equalities at workplace realizing how effective such initiatives prove to be once implemented successfully (Aberson, 2007). But a sound execution of diversity initiatives is seldom an easy process but the University commits itself in maintaining strong standards and hopes for betterment in future with regard to complete diversity and equality in the workplace (Hicks-Clarke & Iles, 2000). Its special focus is towards women academics and researchers. It encourages women to apply and sustain their positions in the universities and is continually engaged in recruiting strong, talented women as part of its diversity initiatives. Other than women, the university considers disable employees and diverse ethnic groups to be a part of its diversity initiatives. But while other areas receive targeted results, the university has failed to meet its target for women staff members which points to a need for further analysis. This phenomena can be explained through company's internal analysis, market analysis, comparison with other universities that could help point out the internal weaknesses or external threat of the university that induce this problem as well as through literary concepts relating to society, culture and diversity-specific studies that explain why women do not stay committed o their posts and the university is not able to retain them for long (Milem and Hakuta, 2000).

definitions, concepts, and terms of reference

The literature on diversity, equality and employment holds various important concepts and definitions that have to be understood in order to analyze the situation of university X.

According to Stephen Macedo (2000), who has contributed tremendously towards the conceptual framework relating to workplace diversity, assets that diversity is one of the greatest and complex issues of workplace studies of the modern time. Diversity relates with gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation that are equally important, as with other types of public and private organisations, firms, and companies, in universities. He claims diversity to be a 'contest' that is never ending and has bound several researchers, practitioners and managers in a struggle to induce diverse environments into the internal society of the organisations. It is a driving force that brings unity among employees despite of differing characteristics. He has pointed out that though diversity has met with extensive attention, practice and research, it has been often misconceived for its purpose and definition.

With regard to universities, specifically, diversity can be defined in terms of student body composition, academic and research staff composition and other non-teaching staff composition (Huisman, et al., 2002). Diversity is not however, only a celebration of different cultures coming together under roof (Bain and Commings, 2000). The studies and practice of diversity involve making sure unfair exclusions and discriminations do not take in the environment based on the differing or unique backgrounds, characteristics and equality is practiced. Only then can 'unity' and harmony can be achieved in the workplace and can employees benefit each other and the organisation with their skills and specialties that are closely tied with their backgrounds and characteristics. A much more refined definition of diversity, presented by Macedo (2000) is thus, that it is the extent to which freedom and equality is established for all levels, positions and environments of work but which is yet to be fully understood and practiced and thus has to be developed further for organisational development.

In this section, based on the highlights provided by the previous section, an extensive literature and market review is conducted to gauge further the importance of equality in diversity in universities, with specific emphasis being given to women in academics and research in the university with support from legal and economic data from the market, university's employment data and other university's data so as to identify a gap and establish the scope for further study to resolve the existing problems relating to women employment and retention in the university.Literature and Market Review

importance of diversity in universities

The practice of diversity has a lot to offer to the universities, both in terms of learners and practitioners, i.e. the professors and teachers. Diversity's effectiveness in terms of workplace productivity, as pointed out by Kanter (1977) has a lot to do with social interactions that take place within the organisation. His work concluded that diverse workplace environments shape social interactions in a way that can be either disruptive or fruitful for an organisation depending on how it embraces it diversity. According to Chang (1999), whose contribution was more aligned to the context of academic institutions, compositional diversity plays a crucial role in both student productivity as well as staff productivity. Campuses with high rate of students belonging to diverse backgrounds have been found to have more opportunities, constructive social interactions and overall productivity (De Meuse & Hostager, 2001; Boeckmann, & Feather, 2007) with regard to preparation for the challenging work place environment that the students are to face in their future (Dev and Trevino, 1994). Opposed to this, universities with a major population of white candidates have been found to have restricted learning experiences and cross-racial interactions are almost never (European Commission, 2008).

Compositional diversity is, thus, an important element that universities have to take into account to assure a productive student body and academic body (Dainty, et al., 2001). This refers to having a proportional representation of people in student and staff bodies that reflect different racial, gender, ethnic and other backgrounds. These recruitment policies relating to compositional diversity are symbolic of the university's commitment to acceptance of people belonging to diverse backgrounds and its commitment to quality, practicality, and future sustainability to outside and external parties (Camp, et al., 1997). For this communication internally and externally relating to the diversity practices and policies of the university is crucial. However, Hurtado (1998) has pointed out for universities, focusing on the single aspect and element of diversity practice in developing policies is not ideal and they should view diversity as a "critical mass" or composite of people belonging to different backgrounds but working on similar levels and tasks depending on skills and qualifications where there are open lines of communication and workplace integration (Boeckmann & Feather, 2007).

The policies that universities mainly adopt are in line with legislation and policy regulations enforced by law (Enders, 2001). Recently there have been various developments in this area of which Equality Act (2010) is a major milestone.

equalities act 2010

The Equality Act (2010) is a highly significant piece of regulation with regard to diversity practice and management which is on its way to make equality at workplace much more strengthened. Almost 90% of its application has already taken place in less than a year since its formulation, while the rest will be put to effect by April 2011. It encompasses rules and policies relating to the following key areas: age, gender, disabilities, racial backgrounds, marital status, civil partnerships, religion, faith and beliefs, ethnic background, sex, and sexual orientations. The Act also eliminates the practice of "dual discrimination" that was and is currently in practice by many organisations whereby an employee or staff members is discriminated based on two or more of the characteristics such as race, gender, and religion, etc. at workplace, selection and recruitment or any other consideration. The act protects the candidates, employees, and members alike from this form of discrimination. The Act offers its duty towards: (1) elimination of unfair practices by employers relating to discrimination, sexual harassment and unfair appraisals and reward management; (2) inducing equality in employment advancements and growth opportunities for all employees regardless of backgrounds; (3) enforce organisations to publish data in report form relating to diversity and equality at workplace, with proper objectives, strategies and execution and be transparent with employment relations and workplace practices that relate with diversity.

University X has clearly developed its strategy around this Equalities Act and other legislations relating to diversity and workplace relations (Equality Act, 2010).

diversity strategy of university x

University X follows an integrated diversity management strategy at corporate and functional levels whereby it uses teams, committees and networks to plan, execute and control diversity initiatives. These teams and committees include: The Rectors' Equal Opportunity and Diversity committee whose role is to ensure that each candidate is given the right to 'due process' and equal opportunities at workplace regardless of the background. This is a corporate level committee which comprises of sub-committees that are designed to deal with disabilities, gender, race, etc separately to make sure each aspect of diversity is covered and looked upon extensively and to make sure the organisation abides by legislations, regulations and policy standards as set by the government, for example in the form of Equalities Act (2010). In addition to these committees, advisory groups also function across the organisation focusing on key issues that either emerges with organisational progress and development, or external labour market developments. All of these groups are integrated through networks whereby the corporate and functional levels do not function in isolation from each other.

diversity initiatives by university x

Under the diversity strategy the university has taken several initiatives that are in effect at present. These include employment development initiatives, training for equality and diversity for employees, disability awareness training and committees and networks set up to monitor the management of diversity and equality among the campus staff.

Employee Development

University has developed a cooperative program with other 7 universities to offer a management program for BME staff which runs for 6 months for two staff members at a time. It operates in the form of conferences with maximum communication, information and knowledge sharing and impartment to each of the members. University X leads this program.

Equality and Diversity

University X conducts equality and diversity training as per Equalities Act 2010 and publishes its progress each year in the form of reports. It takes 30 staff members at a time for running this training course three times a year. At present, much of these training sessions has been on the awareness for workplace equality for disable employees.

Diversity Committees

These committees, foresee, plan, coordinate, implement, monitor and evaluate the progress and performance of diversity management across the university's staff. Integrated by means of networks set up by the university's corporate management and administration, at present several initiatives that are in place were designed and executed by the diversity management committees. The committees have been very committed to make sure that disabled staff gets fair chances and opportunities at the workplace together with proper treatment from their work colleagues which is the main focus of many training sessions that take place throughout the year at the university. They currently engaged in equipping the administration and staff for the implementation of "two ticks" scheme whereby the employment growth prospects for disabled staff are increased.

performance and progress

According to the annual report of the university of 2008, the number of women professors has increased in the university but women academics and researchers has declined, the reasons of which are unclear. One explanation could be that while disabled staff is benefiting from the disabled management initiatives, gender diversity has received little attention by the university. The university's target for 2010 for women academics and researchers was set to have an increase of 41% which the university was unable to meet. This calls for re-examining and re-structuring of some initiatives and policies, first to find out the causes and second to encourage more women academics and researchers to join and retain their positions and allow the university to achieve its gender diversity, along with disabilities targets.

diversity initiatives by other universities

Comparing the initiatives taken by and underway for University X, with two famous universities allows contrasting the differences and gauging areas where University X could improve its diversity management strategy and implementation.

Lincoln University

Much of Lincoln University's efforts are towards making the work environment racial-biased free, as indicated from its aim which is "to promote, create and sustain racial equality in the university which is central to all policy, strategy and standard making for both students and employees alike." (Lincoln University, 2011).

Its strategy is aimed at cultural diversity mainly which is managed by Equality and Diversity Management Committee chaired by the university's Vice Chancellor. The committee works closely with the human resource management department of the university to conduct proper background checks to ensure that the university embraces the diversity that potential employees can bring to the university. This committee also has partnerships with community's several diversity centered organisations that allow it to further enhance its services in the matter and embrace diversity even more effectively. Proper future goals are set and executed via partnerships, training sessions, seminars, workshops and free flow of communication with staff members and continuously monitored to ensure smooth attainment of targets and improve shortfalls to further enhance the diversity management of the university (Lincoln, 2011). The governance mainly takes place under the Racial Relations Act (2000) as opposed to Equalities Act (2010) that is integral to University X's diversity management.

Manchester University

Manchester University operates a separate but functionally and strategically integrated centre for equality and diversity at work, where it makes sure that the employees regardless of backgrounds, physiological disabilities, gender, race, ethnic backgrounds, religion, nationality, etc. are given fair treatment, opportunities and employment at the university. It works closely with several public and private organisations and has taken a multi-disciplinary approach towards diversity management where it combines psychological research findings with managerial expertise alongside collaboration with multiple organisations to understand, develop and execute effective diversity management initiatives, some of which are: (1) encouragement for female entrepreneurship and reduction for their social exclusion; (2) causes and remedies for occupational stress based on gender and age; (3) Gender and Racial Equality training and development; (4) Training and initiatives for reducing sexual harassment; and (5) Mentoring development of females and males for leadership, among many others (Manchester University, 2011).

This section outlines the problem and scope for further research with defined objectives and aims, indicating the research methods that should be used.future research Rationale

problem identification

According to the annual report of the university of 2008, the number of women professors has increased in the university but women academics and researchers has declined, the reasons of which are unclear. University X has identified that the turnover provides evidence that the women mostly leave at the post-doctoral level at the university and fail to progress ahead. To explain this research is needed to explain the internal and external causes for deviation from targets.

scope of study

Analyzing Lincoln University's performance in this matter, despite of its success in establishing equal opportunities for employees for all races, and ethnic backgrounds, it has supported Hurtado's critique for the practice of diversity management by universities where "critical mass" is not compiled by considering all of the aspects of diversity. in this case, gender, disabilities etc are ignored and are given secondary importance. And in the case of University X, gender is now being given importance and primarily its central focus was on disable employees.

Considering the case of Lincoln university, their focus is on cultural aspect of diversity which they claim is the route of problems that create stereotypical beliefs and notions that are the biggest hindrances for diversity management (Milem and K. Hakuta, 2000). On the other hand, Manchester university has linked these cultural studies with individual psychology. Both point out thus, that in order to explain the cause and better implement diversity management for gender equality at the university, this cultural, and psychological together with structural perspective that is linked with the role of the university itself is crucial (Jenson, et al., 2001). Therefore, a research exploration and empirical analysis is required relating to allow the university to develop these multi-disciplinary approaches towards diversity management (Altbach, 2004).

research objectives and aims

Future research in the area is, thus, to encompass the following research objectives: to find out the structural and cultural causes of deviation from the targets with regard to women researchers and academics and to find out how the current diversity management system could be improved.


A descriptive, qualitative as well as quantitative and empirical research is ideal for this research study (Fiske et al, 1991; Fagenson, 1990).

evaluation, conclusion and recommendations

This section the summary of findings, and the final word of evaluation based on the cost-benefit analysis of the research proposal is given to direct the future research to resolve the problem situation of University X.

Analyzing Manchester University's initiatives open further doors for University X's diversity management, based on the finding that research, collaboration, and multi-disciplinary but focused planning, execution and control is necessary for making sure all aspects of diversity are covered. According to Fagenson (1990) and Ragins and Sundstrom (1989), structural perspective of university's organisation influences perceptions, progress and implementation of diversity management initiatives. On the other hand, Kalev (2006) and Heilman (1993; 2001) have pointed out the importance of cultural reasons in explaining the workplace behaviour towards diversity and reasons for several misconceptions related with gender, specifically that could be used to explain why women fail to retain their post-doctoral level positions and continue to progress. This literary evidence further strengthens the requirement and scope of the research. However, it requires time, investment and effort and the university will have to make budget allocations to undertake it. The university could divide its objectives and targets to short, medium and long term levels in order to implement and undergo a continuous monitoring, improvement and execution progress of diversity management. Such as, attempt to increase women staff by 10% in the first year, 20% the next five years and 50% in the next eight to ten years.