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The Faculty of Science has published the Diversity and Inclusion Policy Document which sets out its ambitions for the next three years.

The Faculty of Science would like to ensure an inclusive learning and working environment in which students and employees feel at home. When everybody feels safe and well established, you create the best possible conditions for talent to flourish. This also means that the Faculty of Science wishes to become more attractive to potential talent that is currently under-represented, such as young prospective students from migrant backgrounds and women talented in the natural sciences. A diverse and inclusive environment enables optimum development of all available talent and reaps the substantial benefits provided by a wide range of perspectives and opinions. This boosts the quality of research and teaching and amplifies our social impact.

The Faculty of Science focuses on accessibility and study success for students for whom studying at the university is not self-evident, collaboration in diversely composed teams, recruitment, selection, appointment, promotion and retention of employees with a diverse background, and identification and encouragement of good practices and knowledge exchange.

‘Diversity and inclusion are everybody's responsibility,’ says dean Peter van Tienderen in the explanatory notes to the new policy document. The policy document was drafted with input from education directors, research directors, heads of faculty offices and the faculty diversity officer and was submitted online to all faculty staff and students. The policy document was then forwarded to the representative advisory bodies and placed on the agenda of the OWIDO and OZIDO. ‘It isn’t just a question of what the management thinks or does. The countless ordinary interactions that take place every day have a massive influence on whether people feel at home at the Faculty of Science, so we adopt the following policy: everybody matters and everybody is needed.’

Four strategic objectives

The promotion of diversity and inclusion at the Faculty of Science has been the focus of explicit attention for quite some time now, for example in the pursuit of a more equal gender balance. An important goal of this new policy document is therefore to consolidate the paths and initiatives that have already been taken by providing a clear focus.

What will we focus on in the coming years? Following on from the UvA’s Diversity Policy Document, the faculty has formulated four strategic objectives. These are:

1. Accessibility and study success for students whose background makes studying at a university a less likely course of action for them.

It is not only talent and effort that determine academic careers. Their cultural and social capital and the assistance they receive from their parents are also important factors in academic success. The faculty would like to provide more opportunities for students with a migration background as well as students with a non-academic parental background. To this end, among other things the Faculty of Science is supporting and encouraging outreach projects, the Student Impact Centre and making role models visible within all fields, e.g. in terms of gender, skin colour, background or disability.

2. Successful cooperation within diverse groups and teams.

Talent development is usually approached from an individual and competitive perspective. In our complex world, innovation is increasingly being derived from cooperative situations, marking a shift from individual competition to working in teams and on projects. Students and staff work together to determine the culture of this cooperation. The Faculty of Science wishes to establish a culture that respects differences. The faculty is actively conducting a policy of organising training courses with a focus on diversity and cooperation in diverse teams. The faculty’s various departments and institutes also play an important role when it comes to ensuring smooth cooperation in diverse teams. One example is the Inclusive AI community set up by the Informatics Institute.

3. Recruitment, selection, appointment, promotion and retention of staff from diverse backgrounds.

The Faculty of Science aims to provide a diverse academic environment in which talented employees are given equal opportunities to develop themselves and be promoted to more senior positions and where everyone feels at home. Among other things, the achievement of this goal depends on raising awareness of the importance of the added value of diversity. The Faculty of Science will continue the activities that have already been initiated, such as the bias training for faculty staff.

In addition to improving awareness and skills, the bias training also focuses on how to apply knowledge of inclusive selection procedures in practice. The training is evaluated positively by participants: ‘Inclusivity is not only important to us as a person, but it also gives you better business operations and a broader palette of scientific insights. The ‘why inclusivity’ question is important in convincing people of the need for it, a valuable insight that bias training has given me’, said Dr. Katrien Keune (HIMS) who participated in the training. 

4. Identification and encouragement of good practices and knowledge exchange.

The exchange of knowledge and experiences may speed up the implementation process and enable a greater platform to be created for smaller developments, helping them to become part of wider faculty policy. The diversity officer has an important role to play here. The diversity officer maintains contact with faculty students and staff through bodies such as the focus group.

Discussing diversity and inclusion

Together with the institutes and degree programmes, the Faculty Board is responsible for the design and implementation of the faculty’s policy on diversity and inclusion. The faculty’s diversity officer serves as adviser to the dean and has the role of identifying, supporting and encouraging initiatives that promote diversity.