Universiteit Leiden

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Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs

The importance of diversity and inclusion within society and its institutions can never be understated. In an interdependent, globalised world, we are more connected than ever but we also face the risks of being more polarized than ever due to misunderstanding and misinformation. It is, therefore, incumbent upon us to make a difference. We not only have a role as individuals but also collectively as an organisation to ensure that we value and respect differences in society that also echo on the character and make-up of our students, faculty staff, and the academics who work here.

The tragic murder of George Floyd in May 2020 raised the matters of equality, diversity, and inclusion to the top of the agenda as the world watched the shocking events unfolding with bated breath. In the aftermath, the Faculty understood that as a public institution it had to act. A few short weeks after this tragic killing in May, the Faculty put together a task force with the explicit aim of determining a set of priorities to help ensure the delivery of a set of practices that represent our intentions, the details of which can be found in the faculty diversity statement published in July. In prioritising our aims, we are sensitive to the complexities of issues within the Dutch context but remain mindful of the importance of ensuring that we can deliver on our stated aims that signify our commitment to valuing differences in all their shape and form.

Message from Dean Erwin Muller

November 2020

Diversity and inclusion are of great importance to FGGA. I believe they are essential for the faculty if we truly want to remain in touch with the changing world around us. Every single member of FGGA should feel that they are treated equally while given all the opportunities they deserve. Discrimination and exclusion are out of the question. No form of exclusion is acceptable. Sometimes it is good to draw some clear boundaries.

In recent years in which I have been the dean of this faculty, the problem of diversity and discrimination has become clearer to me. I am therefore especially motivated to work on it now and over the coming years. We will not be able to solve all the issues in one go, but over time we will deliver solutions and improvements. The action agenda plays an important role in this.

I invite everyone in the faculty, the students, and all staff to consider how we can make FGGA a diverse and inclusive community together.

Interview Sandra Groeneveld, contact person Public Administration

'Ultimately, the goal is that every individual can participate fully in the academic community and in the academic debate. This is a fundamental academic value that is deeply rooted in the identity of our university.'

Sandra Groeneveld

What motivates you personally and professionally to support the FGGA diversity and action agenda?

My personal motivation is linked to my own experiences as a student and later as a scientist. I was given the opportunity to study, which was not so automatic in my family. I've always considered it a privilege that I also like to give to others. Once at university, it is then important that you can develop talent. For this it is necessary that you see and take the space to develop yourself. I hadn't learned that from home and I really had to practice. It is then important that your environment encourages you to do so. I would like to contribute to the university being such an inviting environment for everyone.

It is no coincidence that I have been interested in issues of inequality, diversity and inclusion from the start of my career. In recent years I have conducted a lot of research into the effectiveness of diversity policy in organizations and the role of leadership in achieving an inclusive work climate. Several years ago I chose to use that expertise for the sector and the organization where I work myself. For that reason I also like what the FGGA is doing with this agenda.

What do you consider the biggest obstacles to achieving the action agenda points? Prioritize the two or three most important issues you see as the biggest obstacle you face in achieving your D&I goals?

Let's start with the fact that there is a lot available to further the diversity and inclusiveness of the faculty as a study and work environment. For example, there are many colleagues from various parts of the organization and with diverse backgrounds who want to contribute to this.

Ultimately, the goal is that every individual can participate fully in the academic community and in the academic debate. This is a fundamental academic value that is deeply rooted in the identity of our university. To achieve that, policy must focus on the opportunities of social groups whose voices have so far been less heard. This means that differences between social groups come to the fore, which puts everyone's individuality in the background. That this is necessary has to do with social inequality and prejudices in society. I think this is one of the toughest diversity and inclusion dilemmas.

A completely different kind of obstacle is study and work pressure. It takes time and attention to have a good conversation with each other about these kinds of complex issues that affect people personally. This is often lacking because the pressure is felt from the many obligations that we all have to meet. Diversity and inclusivity should not become just another obligation, a tick that must be placed in a box. Rather, it is an investment in ourselves. But as with other investments, it literally requires resources. The organization must dare to choose this.

What is your vision on diversity and inclusion at the FGGA in five years?

In the first place, I would like to see the FGGA do better in binding students from diverse backgrounds to our programs and offer a learning environment in which they feel invited to develop their talents.

Secondly, I would like to see us progress to have such an environment for our staff. And that is a task for all of us. Because inclusivity cannot be achieved with a plan on paper. This can only be achieved by working on it together every day.

Interview Joery Matthys, contact person ISGA

On a personal level I have had an interest in diversity and inclusion for some time, but we all received a healthy wake-up call when what happened recently in the US absolutely started resonating in Dutch society, and certainly with our students. 

Joery Matthys

What motivates you personally and professionally in wanting to support the diversity and action agenda of the FGGA?

On a personal level I have had an interest in diversity and inclusion for some time, but we all received a healthy wake-up call when what happened recently in the US absolutely started resonating in Dutch society, and certainly with our students. What happened over there, stirred up something here, and that is what we need to focus on. We should grab the momentum to come to a more sustainable future. As part of the Institute Board of the Institute of Security and Global Affairs responsible for Well-being, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equal opportunity, the fact that there is also a lot of attention on Inclusion and Diversity on the faculty level is laudable. There’s a hub on each level now who can help coordinate and push the action agenda, so Institute, Faculty and central level.

What do you regard as the biggest hurdles in achieving the action agenda points? Prioritise the main two or three issues that you see as the biggest obstacles you face in achieving your stated goals?

Loss of momentum: there is a strong will to go forward, that’s great. But there are quite some things working against us. First and foremost something we have no control over: Covid19. We can’t come physically together, the events we organize are still going to be mostly online, … There is a need to remain visible. An online presence usually reinforces visibility, now we have to rely almost fully on it. As important is our own drive. I don’t think any of us get the chance to work on this 100% of the time. We teach, do research, have other managerial functions, etc. And our performance is also evaluated on all of these things. The same goes for all of our colleagues. There is a need to integrate the Diversity and Inclusion action agenda in daily activities of all staff, so that it is not something that they do beside their day to day work. It is part of their day to day work.

Complacency: we are incorporating WIDE in the Institute strategy, there is the development of a Faculty Action plan, the new rector magnificus coming in has emphasized on several occasions her commitment to Inclusion & Diversity. This is an ongoing process, and that means that we have to realize that the aim is to constantly better ourselves and our Institute/Faculty/University. It’s ok to have high expectations, it’s even ok to fall short of those expectations as long as we keep trying to reach them. It’s not ok to pat ourselves on the back foot and get complacent.

What is your vision of diversity and inclusion at the FGGA in five years’ time?

In five years, there will be colleagues and students that will say we are going too far, while others will say it’s not good enough. But we will have reached out to more disenfranchised communities and attracted more staff and students from these backgrounds. We will have increased retention rates and overall well-being of our staff, and our students will have gotten more tools from us to operate in a more and more diverse society.


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