In higher education, we pride ourselves on being evidence-based decision-making entities. We promote our missions to serve our communities and to create a better world and better futures for all.
There is strong evidence that diversity drives better organisational outcomes. Robust and well-cited studies show that diversity contributes to better productivity, workplace engagement, collaboration, revenue, share value and profitability. Although we have no direct studies yet, we can confidently surmise that universities, as large organisations increasingly expected to operate as financially viable businesses, also benefit in all of these ways from diversity.
And our deep and central commitment to social justice and equity and transformation sets the higher education sector apart from many others. It is what attracts so many to fund, support, work in and study at our institutions.
Yet despite the strong evidence, well-known benefits and fit with our values, the data on how we are tracking in terms of gender and other diversity in the sector is ambiguous at best, and poor at worst. The odds are stacked against women, as well as against people from races other than white, against people with disabilities, and against people with particular sexual orientations, just to name just a few.