The University of Sydney is committed to fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion in our functions and services. May 2017 not only saw us being recognised with this award but also marks a year since the inaugural Campus Infrastructure & Services (CIS) Diversity and Inclusion framework and program was launched.
A group of dedicated and enthusiastic CIS staff members worked together over the past 12 months to bring a program of events that would inform, motivate, challenge and most importantly celebrate diversity, culture and inclusion, not only in the workplace but also within our communities.
Our Vice Chancellor and Principal, Dr Michael Spence, wants the University to be a place where our staff and students are able to bring their whole self to work or study, and we have been actively pursuing this aspiration.
In the past year, CIS has established three Diversity and Inclusion Networks being the Women in Leadership Network, Cultural Diversity Network and Local Engagement Network.
To explore the cultural diversity of our workforce we held a number of events for staff, celebrating Chinese New Year, Rosh Hashana and St Patrick’s Day. Each event included a speaker to provide an overview of the reason for the celebration and why these events are so important in the Chinese, Jewish and Irish communities respectively. The aim of these events is to increase everyone’s awareness and tolerance of different cultures and customs and we look forward to celebrating many more occasions that reflect our multicultural workforce.
Accelerating gender parity is a high priority for the University with many steps already being taken. In a speech made by Dr Spence at the Women Leaders in Public Sector forum in May this year, he highlighted the systemic biases that shape the campus experience of women of colour, women from low socio economic backgrounds and those in the LGBTIQ community, and result in them being overlooked when it comes to leadership.
The University is looking at a number of ways to overcome these systemic inconsistencies including creating a talent pipeline, providing coaching and mentoring, holding regular events with prominent guest speakers and panel discussions and providing as many opportunities as we can to create gender equity.
In the last three years, CIS has improved the representation of women in our workforce by 27.9 per cent. This is a positive uplift of women in senior positions in our general staff workforce, and we intend to continue this trend through our CIS Recruitment and Retention Strategy.
We have also actively engaged with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to discuss better ways to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders working and studying at the University. This year we have increased our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholarship program and have awarded a postgraduate scholarship to a young Aboriginal woman in addition to our two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander undergraduate scholarships.
Our Engagement Strategy continues to look for opportunities to work with the local community and continues to proudly support the South Sydney Herald with regular articles.
We have made some good progress, but there is still much to be done and we remain resolutely committed to working towards enhancing our diverse and inclusive environment.