FAQs & Answers about the Chief Diversity Officer Team

FAQ & Answers about the Chief Diversity Officer Team

As Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) team, we often encounter misconceptions about our roles and responsibilities within the university. The following was written to clear up these misconceptions, so we can all, as a community, have a clear overview of the important and relevant actors in the process of cultural and systemic change at the UvA.

  1. ‘’Is the CDO team responsible for creating and implementing policies around EDI (equity, diversity, inclusion)?’’

The Executive Board is responsible for the overall UvA policy. Important policy documents are the Instellingsplan and concerning equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI): the Nota Diversity by the Executive Board. These documents give an overall vision and outline plans to be undertaken. The faculties make their own policies within the limits of the UvA’s centrally established policy. This is the responsibility of the deans.

The role of the CDO and Faculty Diversity Officers (FDOs) is mainly to function as an advisory and consulting partner for central departments, faculties, and the Executive Board of the UvA regarding issues of EDI. We are also in close contact with the COR and CSR about the ways the UvA might become an organization where people feel even more at home. How our advice is incorporated is up to the departments, faculties, and Executive Board. We sharpen the focus of the university in these issues and help foster grassroots initiatives. Together with the Faculty Diversity Officers, we drive forward the process of cultural change by providing research, raising awareness, confronting, and advising on EDI issues. As a CDO team we also give workshops and training, initialize mentorship programs, etc.

  1. ‘’Can the CDO team start a formal complaint in cases of discrimination?’’

When it comes to filing a formal complaint or investigating a case of discrimination or harassment,  we are not the right place to go to. Instead, you can choose to go to the ombudsperson, or confidential advisers. Click here for an overview of help seeking resources. We do understand why people come to us to share their stories and we believe in creating a space for people to share. It is just that we cannot process and file this information officially.

We want to help foster an even more diverse and inclusive UvA community, and for that we offer listening spaces and community meet-ups for students and staff to come together, raise issues and have their voices be heard. We also offer grassroots funding for students and staff to support their EDI-related initiatives.

The CDO team helps think through how to identify patterns and suggests methods of taking these to the Deans and the Executive Board. We do this in close consultation with the Social Safety Taskforce and the Ombudsperson.

  1. ‘’How is the CDO team able to bring about change, when they work within the institution?’’

Indeed, the CDO team is part of the UvA. However, we are a critical organ within this institution and our role is to be critical and to keep the institution focused. Even though we cannot implement and execute policy, we still lobby for EDI (equity, diversity and inclusion) issues to be at the forefront of the institution’s agenda. We amplify the voices of our staff and students who are pushing for change as well. Additionally, we relentlessly have these conversations on a central level, offering workshops, following up on the progress, and making sure that these conversations are held at a management level.

We strongly believe that for change to come about, there needs to be not only policy change, but also community building. Some of our community-building initiatives include:

  • “What is the difference between the CDO and FDOs and how do they work together to promote diversity?’’

The Chief Diversity Officer team and the Faculty Diversity Officers are all first-generation positions at the UvA. We are still in the process of seeing how we can best support each other’s work. We have monthly meetings to share faculties’ best practices, issues and how to move forward together on EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion) issues. Due to the decentralized nature of the UvA, the CDO team focuses on the management or central level, and the FDOs focus on their specific faculties.  It is also important to remember that FDOs have limited resources, as they receive between 4 to 8 hours a week. We believe that these hours are not enough and continually lobby for more hours and resources. Therefore, their role is not in implementing, but in advising.

The FDOs advise the deans of their faculties regarding EDI issues and policy. The responsibility for implementation therefore, lies with the deans.

  • “ Is the CDO team responsible for implementing the “Let’s Do Diversity” report (2016)?”

As mentioned previously, we do not have the authority to implement and execute policy. However,  our strategy, content and yearly outlook is shaped by the “Let’s Do Diversity” (LDD) report, and we use it as a fundamental roadmap for our work.

The research conducted by the LDD report and its results are very important to us, as it helps us ground our conversations on EDI (equity, diversity and inclusion) at the central level with data specific to the UvA, and it provides the right language to use. Furthermore,  different parts of the LDD report are being implemented by various faculty deans. At the same time we are working on a LDD report tracker to demonstrate what has been implemented and what not. All our work is done from an intersectional perspective.