The University of Arizona is a national leader in workforce diversity, according to Forbes.
The university appears on Forbes’ fourth annual “Best Employers For Diversity” list, placing No. 206 out of 500 businesses with at least 1,000 employees – a 35-spot increase over last year’s ranking of No. 241. The university is one of only five employers headquartered in Arizona to be included on the national list and one of only 30 educational institutions.
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“One of our core values is inclusion, which reflects our broad and overarching commitment to creating a welcoming and supportive atmosphere where we not only invite people of all backgrounds to help shape our future, but we intentionally seek their experience, expertise and contributions,” said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. “We believe it is imperative to live our values of inclusion and compassion every single day. It is gratifying to see that Forbes has once again recognized our efforts to walk the talk when it comes to diversity.”
In February, the university made its first appearance on Forbes’ list of America’s Best Large Employers, placing No. 16 out of 500 employers overall, No. 4 in the education subcategory and No. 1 among employers with headquarters in Arizona. Forbes described the university as a public research institution “with a world-renowned space exploration program” and “a curriculum focused on the future.”
The university employs more than 15,500 people. According to 2020 statistics, more than 54% of employees were women and nearly half belonged to a minority group. In 2018, the university was designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education for its success in enrolling Hispanic students and providing educational opportunities to them. Nearly one quarter of UArizona employees identify as Hispanic or Latinx.
“This recognition for a second year in a row means a great deal,” said Helena A. Rodrigues, vice president and chief human resources officer. “We actively work toward improved diversity and inclusion, utilizing evidence- and experience-based practices in our guidance and support of the campus community. This honor recognizes the work of the whole campus community – most notably our unit and department leaders, who work each day to ensure we live our university values and integrate them into everything we do.”
Forbes partnered with market research firm Statista to survey more than 50,000 American employees anonymously, in order to allow respondents to freely share opinions. Respondents were first asked to rate their organizations on criteria such as age, gender, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation equality, as well as general diversity. Responses were then reviewed for potential diversity gaps.
The university’s Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement, in partnership with the Division of Human Resources and the Office of the Provost, offers the Inclusive Leadership Program to advance leadership efforts in diversity and inclusion, and to develop collaborations among university leaders. In addition, the Disability Resource Center is committed to inclusive workplace practices and implementing universal design.
Inclusive excellence is the concept that drives the university’s approach to practical applications of diversity and inclusiveness. At the center of inclusive excellence is the recognition and acceptance of the talents, worldviews, perceptions, cultures and skills that diverse communities bring to the educational enterprise that can be harnessed to prepare students for living, working and leading in a diverse world.
In September, the university created a logo to mark National Hispanic Heritage Month. To celebrate the diversity of students, staff and employees, additional branded cultural logos were released for Native American History Month in November, Black History Month in February and Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month, observed by the university in April.
The university offers several programs, such as child care support and employee advising, that aim to help employees enjoy a fulfilling and balanced work life. Life & Work Connections has also expanded its resources to address employee needs amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including enhanced counseling services and resources for parents adjusting to remote learning.