Feb. 8, 2018
Virginia Commonwealth University has landed the No. 1 spot in Virginia on Forbes’ list of best employers for diversity. VCU ranks 40 out of 250 nationally. The ranking is the result of a survey of 30,000 U.S. employees that asked questions about ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age. Factors including the gender makeup of management teams and proactive communications about diversity also were considered in the rankings.
“Prospective employees are attracted to VCU because they know how much we value diversity and inclusion. It is a central part of our mission and everyday work,” said Cathleen C. Burke, assistant vice president for human resources. “As an institution, we monitor faculty and staff hiring, searches, competitive promotions and retention to look for opportunities to promote employee diversity. We also provide hiring managers with tools to help them conduct inclusive employee searches and interviews that demonstrate cultural awareness and respect for those from all backgrounds, identities, abilities, perspectives and experiences.
“For current employees, we work with our university partners to provide diversity training and include a diversity component in employee performance plans,” Burke said.
Last May, the Board of Visitors approved the university’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Action Plan. Part of that plan is the recruitment and retention of a diverse faculty, staff and student body. VCU’s Office of Faculty Recruitment and Retention and the Institute for Inclusion, Inquiry and Innovation (iCubed), in particular, support and fund the hiring of faculty with expertise in disciplines and studies that address and expand the scholarship, knowledge base and creative products relevant to diverse populations, cultures, beliefs and social identities.
“The themes of the plan ensure that members of the university community create and maintain a living, learning and working environment where everyone feels respected, supported and valued,” said Kevin Allison, Ph.D., interim vice president for inclusive excellence and senior executive director of strategy and presidential administration. “VCU also makes institutional investments in training, including the Building Inclusive Communities program for faculty and staff members, which is targeted at helping members of the VCU community become culturally competent leaders.”
Currently, VCU is integrating diversity and inclusion as key pillars in the university’s forthcoming strategic plan, Quest 2025: Together We Transform. University programs such as the annual Presidential Awards for Community Multicultural Enrichment, the Curriculum Development Awards and the Social Justice Fund acknowledge ongoing commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity through community building, curriculum and co-curriculum, and engagement with communities beyond the university.
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