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UA makes 2020 Forbes list of “America’s Best Employers for Diversity”

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Amy Bailey | The Daily Wildcat Old Main is the original building of the university and is at the heart of the campus.

On Jan. 21, the University of Arizona was ranked No. 241 out of 500 companies with over 1,000 employees on Forbes’ third annual list of “America’s Best Employers for Diversity.” There were only four businesses from Arizona and only 25 universities that made the list. 

“I think we are on the path to having a broader diversity,” said Diane Brennan, assistant vice president of Human Resources at the UA. “While we are excited to have had this acknowledgment, I think it is probably a reflection of people paying attention to [diversity]. Our leaders are committed to making sure we have a more diverse workforce, a more diverse leadership, making sure that we continue to grow that and have opportunities for people to grow, develop and want to be here.”

According to University Communications, Statista, the market research firm that partnered with Forbes to create this list, anonymously surveyed 60,000 American employees to rate their businesses on diverse topics such as age, gender, ethnicity, race, disability and sexual orientation equality. The responses were looked over for any potential diversity gaps. Respondents belonging to a minority group were then told to nominate organizations that they did not belong too.

UA’s 2019 workforce demographic statistics say the university employs 16,523 people. Of that total, 54% of the faculty and staff are women and 45% are minorities. The highest non-white ethnicity/race that the university employs is Hispanic or Latino, making up nearly 27% of the university demographics. The second-highest group the university employs is international at 9%, followed by Asian at 4%. 

“It is important that we try to have as wide and diverse of an applicant pool as we can, so our recruitment team has been working to create tools to help with that across campus,” said Staci Wilson, the other assistant vice president of Human Resources. 

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Wilson also said that UA’s job postings have minimum qualifications that go with a job so the hiring committees and applicants can see if it is the right fit for them.

According to the UA website, the UA has six core values that it stands by: integrity, exploration, adaptation, determination, compassion and inclusion. Inclusion’s definition in those values is to “harness the power of diversity.” 

“Having different perspectives, different experiences, different cultures, different backgrounds that people come from makes us better,” Brennan said. “The research shows that [diversity] enriches the workforce — the thinking of what happens. It makes people more productive.”

The UA also has programs to help employees work in an enjoyable work environment. 

Brennan is also one of the facilitators for Workplace We Want, a program that is a part of the Leadership & Organizational Development group within human resources. 

“It is a highly interactive approach that establishes the foundation for creating a culture where people want to belong,” Brennan said in an email.

According to the Office of Leadership & Organizational Development website, the Workplace We Want program helps to “define what a good environment looks like, build skills for having better conversations and providing timely feedback, incorporate appreciation and gratitude into your workflow, and identify actionable steps to help you create the workplace you want.”

The UA also has the Inclusive Leadership Program, which states that it aims to diversify leadership and enhance collaborations to create inclusive workplaces. This program consists of the Hispanic Serving Institute Fellows, Future Leaders Workshop Series and Inclusive Leadership Cohort Certificate.

The Hispanic Serving Institution was designated by the Department of Education in 2018 for having over 25% of Hispanic students enrolled. The Hispanic Serving Institution Fellows Program hopes to “optimize the UA’s organizational identity as a HSI and enhance and diversify the University’s leadership capacity.”


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