The Rector’s Column: Diversity

The Rector’s Column | 21.01.2022

Dear colleagues,

It is our common goal to position the PLUS as an attractive educational institution with a wide range of educational opportunities and as an attractive employer. In addition to a well-rounded and multifaceted study programme, our operational measures also include measures to promote internal job opportunities and promotion (in the academic and administrative departments) and, as the last two years have clearly demonstrated, work-life balance and childcare.

We have incorporated this social dimension prominently in the Performance Agreement 2022-2024. This underscores the scope and importance of diversity at the PLUS, and we also agreed with the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) to further develop the existing measures. Today, I am pleased to present to you some key points of the planned diversity strategy, which you will all implement in the coming years with the support of the Department of Family, Gender, Diversity & Disability (FGDD).

In recent months and years, as we have often discussed together, the question of how to reconcile care duties of all kinds with everyday working life has become particularly clear during the pandemic. The PLUS is aware that this poses a major challenge for employees, which must be taken seriously, especially since the legal provisions do not match real-life requirements. Childcare is a prime example for this. For this reason, it is very important to me and the entire rectorate team to expand our successful cooperation with KOKO Childcare to include a company childcare service, to ensure the best possible working conditions for staff requiring childcare services. Internal childcare is planned to be integrated into the new administration building in Nonntal. The project will be implemented in close cooperation with the ÖH and under the direction of the FGDD department (Children’s Office). I am already looking forward to opening this day care centre together with you.

An area that still gets too little attention is the topic of “caring for relatives“. The legal framework conditions are by no means sufficient to meet staff and students’ real-life needs – not to mention the challenges of a pandemic. We will work on specific measures for this over the coming years.

We are also due for a re-audit on University and Family (Hochschule und Familie), which will be carried out together with Quality Management once again.

The planned diversity strategy is also of the utmost importance for the development of career paths and promotion opportunities within the university: we will focus on staff development by offering a comprehensive range of further education and training courses, which will increase the responsibility and awareness of different types of discrimination among management staff. In addition, the PLUS is planning to launch an apprenticeship initiative, which will be coordinated with external cooperation partners soon.

In addition, the language guide project will be launched in February. Together with external experts, gendup will develop a modern language guideline by the summer. In addition, a code of conduct is currently being developed, which will serve as a basis for non-discriminatory cooperation. All persons working and studying at the PLUS are thereby committed to the PLUS’s diversity goals. This project is to be finalised in 2022. Both projects are important pillars for the diversity strategy, for which there will be FGDD officers in all departments and contact persons in the Deans’ Offices who, as communicators in the respective areas, will ensure transparent and effective cooperation.

The diversity strategy is a central component of a future-oriented university.

At the PLUS, there have already been and still are many activities regarding this topic, which should be understood as dynamic constructs. For this reason, some of them need revitalisation and reorientation; for some, (new) emphases need to be set. And this concerns all of us. The responsibility to make our university an attractive place to work and study must be shared by every one of us. Everyone is called upon, and will be called upon, to live up to our social responsibility.

For this reason, I am pleased to announce a PLUS Talk together with Christine Steger, Head of FGDD, on Thursday, 3 February 2022. An invitation with detailed information will be sent to PLUS employees by e-mail over the next few days.

I am very much looking forward to working with you in the coming months and years to optimise and complement the PLUS’s current diversity projects to ensure that our university continues its path to become a place of respectful and non-discriminatory interaction.

Best regards,

Hendrik Lehnert