Diversity on panels
Diversity brings multiple perspectives. When members of a committee bring a variety of backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, they are more likely to make inclusive decisions, reduce the tendency to stereotype, make biased conclusions or overlook the needs of marginalised groups. Different views and perspectives lead to more thorough critical thinking, and a greater chance of overcoming any unconscious biases.
What is diversity? View
Diversity refers to the many different characteristics in a group of people that make us unique. In the context of a workplace, diversity dimensions include race, ethnicity, age, gender, religious beliefs, physical abilities, sexual orientation, cultural background, socio-economic status as well as skills, educational background, geographical location, parental status, talents, work experiences and many more.
Diversity as a concept encompasses acceptance and respect of our individual differences. These differences are not always fixed, they can be fluid. We respect the individual right to self-identify and recognise that no one dimension of one’s identity is superior to another.
Diversity in decision-making
At Monash, we recognise that decision-making is informed and enriched by the diversity of staff, and that leveraging individuals’ unique experiences contributes to inclusive decision-making and better outcomes for staff, students and organisational performance.
The University is committed to considering diversity when establishing the membership of decision-making bodies, especially those that directly impact the access, participation and success of staff and students at the University.
Chairs and conveners of committees and decision-making bodies are responsible for facilitating fair and equitable decisions, and to demonstrate attributes of inclusive leadership. This includes ensuring appropriate gender representation and proactively seeking opportunities to co-opt members from diverse backgrounds.
It’s crucial to understand that different aspects of a person’s identity such as gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, economic status, national origin, disability, and other aspects of one’s identity, can expose them to overlapping forms of discrimination and marginalisation, and that attitudes, systems and structures in society and organisations can interact to create and/or deepen inequality and result in exclusion.
Let’s consider the following example:
A woman who is
- working in an area where women are traditionally underrepresented;
- is also from a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Background (CALD); and
- is a member of the LGBTIQA+ community.
Through understanding intersectionality, one can realise that the true diversity of a decision-making body is not viewed through one lens only - such as gender, age, culture, or seniority. Therefore, thinking about these aspects when convening a panel is actively encouraged.
Lead by example
To help mitigate the impact of unconscious biases and be able to facilitate more equitable decisions, chairs and conveners of committees and decision-making bodies can do this by ensuring appropriate diversity of participating members. This includes considerations of the gender diversity of committee members, proactively seeking cultural diversity as well as a diversity of experiences.
Monash staff are also invited to take the Panel Pledge to advocate for greater diversity on panels, at conferences, in forums and events. This initiative is a tangible way to influence change and challenge ongoing gender disparity in public forums. By taking the panel pledge, you commit to only taking part in events that feature a diversity of speakers. Find out more on the Panel Pledge webpage.