Diversity in Action: the 3-Pillars-Model of Interaction of the University of Vienna

On December 11, 2018 the University of Vienna received the diversity management award "Diversitas" from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research for the diversity policy "Diversity in Action: The 3-Pillars-Model of Interaction". The Diversitas award was given to seven Austrian universities.

The University of Vienna understands diversity as a fundamental factor in human relationships. That means that diversity is a crucial component of the organisation and not something that is added from "outside" to an already existing structure. From this perspective, diversity is an immanent part of the University and not something that is added as an afterthought. With this conception, diversity can be seen, appreciated and supported where it shows potential for conflict and calls for competencies: in every day doing of interactions.

By consciously not adhering to a strictly categorical diversity concept (that exclusively focuses on singular diversity categories) on a strategic-organisational level, the University of Vienna recognizes all of its members as concerned by diversity. This understanding of diversity allows both, identifying comprehensive and intersectional fields of interaction in the routines of the university and including singular diversity dimensions (e.g. gender, sexual orientation, age, social/cultural background, physical/cognitive abilities) in the university's overall strategy.

With its Diversity Policy, the University of Vienna includes the topic "diversity" in three central fields of interaction of the organisation. The three pillars stand for the three central fields of interaction.

Graphic by Barbara Weingartshofer (http://www.nau-design.at/)

The three pillars describe the central fields of interaction between members of the university in various and changing roles: between teachers and students, leadership and juniors, experts in theory and practice. The three pillars make it possible to connect programs to the central fields of interaction of the university's daily life.

The declared goal of the University of Vienna's Diversity Policy is the active pursuit of change in the University's organisational culture through conscious configuration of its learning and change processes. Each of the measures are focused on raising awareness for mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion, protection from discrimination, and enabling of careers independent of personal circumstances or characteristics.