Thing 10: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

The issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion have become key priorities in academia in recent years. In Thing 10, we will look at definitions; equity, diversity, and inclusion resources produced by institutions and organisations; and, finally, the application of these values in performance/impact assessments and ranking systems. 


Getting Started

Let’s begin with some definitions of equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

According to the World Health Organization, equity can be defined as, 

“the absence of avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people, whether those groups are defined socially, economically, demographically, or geographically”

World Health Organization

The Diversity Council Australia defines diversity as,

“the mix of people in an organisation – that is, all the differences between people in how they identify in relation to their social and professional identity”

Diversity Council Australia

While inclusion occurs when a diversity of people (e.g. of different ages, cultural backgrounds, genders) feel valued and respected, have access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute their perspectives and talents to improve their organisation. 

Universities around the world have adopted such definitions and incorporated them into policy documents and frameworks. For example, Victoria University Wellington in New Zealand, in its “Equity, diversity and inclusion framework“, states that “in simple terms, equity enables our differences to be recognised, diversity is the mix of our differences and inclusion is getting the mix to work well together”. 

Below are some documents and resources from higher education institutions or organisations. Select at least two and consider how they define equity, diversity, and inclusion in a research setting.  

Finally, read “How universities can achieve inclusive campus diversity” for an overview of practical, on-the-ground applications of equity, diversity, and inclusion in universities from a Pacific Rim perspective.  

Consider: Does your institution have a diversity and inclusion policy? What are the benefits of ensuring a university or other organisation is equitable, diverse and inclusive?  


Learn More

There is increasing interest in how well universities are doing in terms of becoming a diverse and inclusive place to work or study. As a result, some rankings have included aspects of diversity and inclusivity in their methodology. For example, CWTS Leiden Ranking includes such measures in its assessment of universities’ research performance.  

Applying metrics to measure or benchmark university performance in this space can be problematic. Read “Should we rank universities on equity performance?” for a summary of some of the key issues. 

In the article, “‘I don’t think that any peer review committee . . . would ever ‘get’ what I currently do‘”, the authors highlight the challenges of applying institutional metrics to research involving indigenous peoples from a North American perspective.  

The Global Indigenous Data Alliance, recognising that open data and the open research movement do not fully engage with Indigenous Peoples rights and interests have developed the CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance

Consider: Are traditional research metrics inclusive? Are there any key performance indicators (KPIs) linked to meeting numbers in this space at your institution? 


Challenge Me 

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in 2015, are a call for countries “to promote prosperity while protecting the planet” and include gender equality; peace, justice, and strong institutions; quality education; and no poverty. The SDGs have been picked up by the international research community, who are attempting to address these challenges.  

In response to the UN SDGs, Elsevier have developed new search queries in Scopus “to help governments, funding bodies and other organisations understand how their research contributes to the UN SDGs”. Read “Shedding light on sustainability research with data science and web-based analytics” to find out more.  

The Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings are “the only global performance tables that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.  

Exercise: Try searching for your institution or country in the THE Impact Rankings using the above link to find out which SDGs are being met. 

Consider: What are the issues and/or strengths of incorporating the UN SDGs into university ranking systems? What other rankings include metrics related to equity and diversity? 

Consider: Have you been asked to find statistics on your organisation’s performance on equity, diversity, and inclusion? What tools did you use?