UK named to Forbes 2019 Best Employer for Diversity

Sonja Feist-Price

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The University of Kentucky is among the Best Employers for Diversity in the country, according to a new ranking from Forbes magazine.

Forbes released its second annual list of the Best Employers for Diversity Tuesday. UK ranked 41st on the list and is the eighth college listed and the only Southeastern Conference school to be included.

The list, among other factors, recognizes employers who elevate their commitment to attracting and developing diverse talent and acknowledge diversity as an imperative pillar of success.

“This honor reflects our commitment to creating and sustaining an environment of belonging,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. “More than any other setting, college campuses must be spaces where we instill in young people the skills to absorb, understand and navigate fundamental tensions. We are called to cultivate empathy — the ability and the desire to walk a mile in another’s shoes, to see through someone else’s eyes — to experience what they experience, so that we fulfill our responsibility to one another and the essence of what it means to be human.”

The list was composed by independently surveying a sample of 50,000 employees working for organizations across the United States from a variety of industry sectors. The sample of employees used an online, anonymous access panel to rate their employer on four criteria: direct recommendations, indirect recommendations, diversity among top executives/board and key performance indicators, such as proactive communication of a diverse company culture.

The university ranked best in direct recommendations surrounding the topics of age, gender equality, ethnicity, disability and LGBTQ inclusion, and the existence of positions and public initiatives responsible for diversity.

“The university takes very seriously our responsibility to prepare students to become global citizens. We strive to lead by example by working to ensure our students, faculty and staff are aware of implicit or unconscious biases and by working to create a community of belonging,” said UK Vice President for Institutional Diversity Sonja Feist-Price. “The university’s Unconscious Bias Initiative has played an essential role in helping to achieve this goal. The university now has Affinity Groups that assist with enhancing belonging, which facilitates engagement throughout our campus community. Our Inclusive Excellence Grants support students, faculty and staff to offer programming that appeals to our diverse campus community. Our success is a result of everyone contributing to excellence in diversity and inclusion. We know that when everyone contributes, everyone benefits.”

The university works collaboratively across campus to create an environment where staff and faculty of all backgrounds and identities are accepted and embraced. Inclusion and diversity are at the heart of everything the university does and is interwoven into the fabric of UK.

“This is a tremendous honor for UK. It publicly validates the collaborative efforts across the university to build a diverse and inclusive environment for staff, faculty and students,” said Kim Wilson, vice president and chief human resources officer.

This is not the first time that the university has been recognized for its diversity and inclusion efforts. For the past two years, UK received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award and was named a Diversity Champion by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. In addition, UK was recently declared a “Best of the Best” Top 30 LGBTQ-friendly college by Campus Pride.

UK also was recently recognized by The Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the best employers in higher education.

These recognitions are a testament to the work and commitment of the university community who work to create an inclusive culture and climate, Capilouto said. Although diversity on campus is not measured by awards and accolades, they are a reassuring sign that UK is moving in the right direction and pushes the university to strive for even more inclusivity and diversity on campus.

To learn more about UK’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, click here.

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