In 2021 the Diversity Council proposed a recommendation for participation in the Diversity Audit “Vielfalt Gestalten”, organized by the “Stifterverband”, a founding association for German science. The University of Klagenfurt is among the first Austrian higher education institutions to take part in this Diversity Audit.1
The auditing process combines elements of organizational development with collegial advice, supported by external auditor Prof. Dr. Andrea Bührmann (director of the Institute for Diversity Research at the Georg-August-University Göttingen). The audit will support the University of Klagenfurt in the process of creating a strategic diversity management.
The resulting measures are intended to adequately reflect the diversity of students, teachers and the staff at the university. Barriers for disadvantaged groups are to be systematically dismantled, in order to foster a sustainable, appreciative and inclusive university culture. The audit’s aim lies in structuring existing measures, conceptualizing improvement measures and implementing new measures sustainably.
The diversity strategy will be divided into four fields of action:
- Strategy and structure
- Studying and teaching
- Communication, participation and information technologies (IT)
- Human resource management
To include a variety of different perspectives in the two-year auditing process, participation of students and employees is regarded as crucial. Therefore, a central concern of the audit will be to include all university members in the process and give them the opportunity to help shape the diversity management at the University of Klagenfurt.
The term diversity is used to describe differences and similarities between individuals and groups. These features can be categorized on individual, institutional or structural levels. Diversity affects all people, not just certain groups.
The Diversity Wheel above is specifically adjusted to the institutional higher education context and depicts the four levels diversity characteristics can be divided into:
- The inner dimension relates to categories such as age, gender, social background, etc.
- The external dimension includes residence, education, religion, outer appearance etc.
- The organizational dimension shows factors such as field of study, course contents, study duration etc.
- The fourth dimension, sustainability, was specifically developed in the pre-auditing-process of the University of Klagenfurt. It refers not only to the environmental factor, but also considers the long-term effects of implemented measures.
These diversity dimensions and categories should not be considered in isolation. The concept of intersectionality is concerned with identifying social categories, their interweaving or intersections. The aim is not only to consider several social categories, but also to analyse their interactions with each other.