Diversity and Inclusion Plan 2020 - 2022 - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Diversity and Inclusion Plan 2020 - 2022

Our commitment

As a growing institution, we have the opportunity to create something unique to USC, where diversity and inclusivity is not only best practice but is what we do on a day-to-day basis.

To achieve this, we need to adopt a holistic approach to diversity and inclusion.

To maximise our potential as a University and ensure we reflect the diversity of our staff, students and community, we have committed to developing a contemporary Diversity and Inclusion Plan and program of initiatives. The Plan will provide an overview of diversity and inclusion activities and initiatives for the next three years 2020-2022 to ensure alignment with USC’s Strategic Plan 2019-2022.

Our progress

Successful delivery of the plan depends on an integrated approach. In October 2019 we sought academics, professional staff, students and community members to form a Working Group to drive the development of the Plan.

The Working Group is representative of the diversity in our community and have met on a fortnightly basis, since beginning in November 2019.

Key activities undertaken by the Working Group have included:

  • Scanned the sector, for best practice nationally and internationally
  • Considered alignment of the University’s current enabling plans and provide direction to the development of future enabling plans
  • Developed a broad outline of plan
  • Drafted Vision, Diversity and Inclusion definitions, guiding principles and descriptors
  • Consultation period with Students, Staff and Community open across February - March 2020
  • Reviewed Vision, definitions and principles based on the consultation feedback
Diversity and Inclusion Plan Working Group

You said, We listened!

The draft vision, definitions and guiding principles were open for consultation via this webpage between 14 February - 11 March 2020.

Responses were received from 56 individuals: 19 students (34%) 35 staff (62%) 2 community (4%).

Overall feedback was positive, with high levels of support for the plan. Furthermore, respondents felt the language is accessible and direct, which is important for the plan to be adopted by individuals on a day-to-day basis.

A lot of the general comments relate to the next component of the plan which is currently under development; ‘the how’ and what KPIs will be embedded to determine whether we are achieving what we aspire to.

It was highlighted that engagement needs to be added as an outcome and procedural feature. There is also fundamental need to consider how engagement of a minority of resistant or less engaged people will occur.

It was evident from the consultation process that providing key examples around the how for each section will be important, as will the need for training/skill development that is required to contribute towards creating a culture of belonging, as well as considering how we influence the broader community.

To read further details about the feedback and the changes please click the section of interest below.

Vision

37/56 (66%) respondents had no feedback and/or positive feedback indicating that they were happy with the vision, it was inspiring and is on the right track with language accessible and direct.

While there was a divergence in views on the use of the rise and shine tag line within the vision, a greater number responded positively to its inclusion. In retaining the rise and shine tag line, it enables the USC brand to continue to build positive reputation, distinguish ourselves and project a focused sense of purpose.

Questions were raised regarding whether the vision was aspirational, when it is written in the present tense. The intention is the vision will be the position we operate from once the plan is live.

Based on feedback, slight changes were made to the vision by removing ‘rich dimensions’ of diversity given the definition of diversity is in itself; rich and multi-dimensional. Changing ‘an environment’ to ‘an inclusive environment’ to reinforce it is not just any environment, but our (USC’s) environment that is proactively created through adoption of the inclusive principles and practices.

USC is a community which recognises and embraces diversity within our staff, students and community partnerships. It provides an inclusive environment where each person feels they belong and are respected, connected and empowered to rise, and shine.
Diversity definition

47/56 (84%) respondents had no feedback/or happy with the definition feeling it is well aligned and clearly described.

In response to the feedback, the word ‘multifaceted’ has been added, the dimensions broadened acknowledging that these aspects come together in a unique way for each individual and shape the way they view and perceive their world.

DIVERSITY describes the multifaceted identities in our USC community, such as gender, race, ethnicity, cultural linguistic background, age, ability, sexual orientation and socio-economic status. It also includes our professional and educational identity with characteristics such as learning and working styles. These aspects are interconnected and come together in a unique way for each individual, shaping personal perspectives and life experiences.
Inclusion definition

42/56 (75%) respondents had no feedback/or happy with the definition.

One quarter of the respondents felt the definition required further refinement and needed to be more action orientated.

In response to the feedback the definition has been simplified, focus shifted from the benefits of diversity to the community to what action is required for the creation of an inclusive culture.

INCLUSION embraces, values and champions diversity, through creating a culture where everyone has an equitable opportunity to contribute and thrive.
Principle 1: Safe, supportive and respectful

9/56 (88%) respondents had no feedback/or happy with the descriptor. Some respondents didn’t believe that the descriptor captured the intent of the principle, with the word ‘absolute’ not resonating.

 Based on feedback, the word absolute has been removed. The phrase ‘full potential’ has been retained given National and International use of the phrase and its alignment with USC priorities within student engagement blueprint, pathways and access strategy, and academic plan

Freedom for everyone to meet their full potential and participate in all aspects of university life with confidence.
Principle 2: Accessible & equitable opportunities and experiences

54/56 (93%) respondents had no feedback/or happy with the definition.

Based on overall feedback no changes have been made to the Principle 2 descriptor.

Enabling pathways to foster fair and attainable outcomes for everyone.
Principle 3: Culture of belonging

49/56 (88%) no feedback/or happy with the definition. Some respondents felt the sentence could be improved.

Based on feedback removed ‘their’ as by using it appears 'othering’, language shifted to capture a sense of belonging and reflect our multi-campus environments.

Making meaningful connections through feeling valued while maintaining our authentic selves within USC’s diverse communities.

Principle 4: Individual and Collective responsibility

47/56 (84%) no feedback/or happy with the definition, some respondents felt the wording could be improved with better connection between the principle and the descriptor.

Based on feedback the descriptor has been strengthened by adding the institutional and individual call to action, in creating a culture of inclusion.

USC is committed to ensuring that diversity and inclusion are at the core of everything we do. As individuals we understand our own responsibilities in creating a culture of inclusion, as we build the collective capacity of our university and the broader communities.

Next steps

With the above Visions, definitions and principles finalised, the working group have commenced the development of the Impact plan, which will expand on 'the how' including KPIs. The draft final plan is anticipated to be completed in August 2020.

Further updates and opportunities for input will be provided as the Diversity and Inclusion Plan progresses.

How will we know if our diversity and inclusion strategies are successful? We need to respect the judgment of those community members who have previously experienced exclusion, discrimination or marginalisation. Have our strategies made a positive difference for them?

Professor Joanne Scott, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) 
Chair, Vice-Chancellor and President Equity and Diversity Committee