Freie Universität Berlin on the Right Track in Promoting Equity and Dismantling Discrimination
Freie Universität successfully certified through Stifterverband’s “Shaping Diversity” audit
Freie Universität Berlin’s efforts to promote equity and dismantle discrimination have been recognized with the university’s successful certification as part of the Stifterverband Association’s “Shaping Diversity” audit. The audit is an organizational development process, accompanied by an external auditor, that takes place over three years. From 2020‒2023 Freie Universität received support in developing and successfully implementing its own diversity strategy.
This process involved developing a Diversity Strategy and Action Plan as early as 2021, which allowed the university to outline its approach to diversity and its strategy for improvement, as well as establish an initial framework to build upon.
One of Freie Universität’s priorities was to develop comprehensive structures for dealing with issues related to diversity, for example, the creation of a centralized Diversity and Antidiscrimination Office. This office is tasked with developing needs-based measures to prevent discrimination and protect those affected by it, as well as to further advance the university’s work in the areas of diversity and antidiscrimination.
Another priority was to raise awareness of diversity issues among university members and to support them in their attempts to take aspects of diversity into account in their day-to-day lives at Freie Universität. One way in which this was achieved was through the launch of a comprehensive web portal for diversity in 2022, making it easier for university members to access support and information. Other activities, such as training events centered on diversity, have also been developed to improve the ability of university staff to deal with these issues.
Freie Universität Berlin has implemented a total of thirty-five new measures as part of the audit, the majority of which will now continue to be implemented in the long-term. An additional eleven measures are underway and will be concluded over the course of 2023. The “Shaping Diversity” certification is valid for three years, with reevaluation possible in 2026.
The experts in the certification workshop particularly emphasized Freie Universität’s strategic direction. Over the course of the auditing process and in spite of the effects of the pandemic, the university was able to make significant progress toward achieving its diversity goals.
According to the auditor, Dr. Ute Zimmermann, “Freie Universität Berlin has achieved a great deal in the past two years. Everyone involved in the process should be proud of themselves. The next step is now to use the structures and processes that have been created to continue to work to achieve the university’s goals – thus ensuring their success in the long term. I am very excited to see how this work continues.”
Professor Verena Blechinger-Talcott, the vice president with responsibilities for diversity and gender equity at Freie Universität Berlin, said, “We have made a great deal of progress during the audit. We will continue to build upon this foundation over the coming years in order to fight discrimination and ensure that our high regard for diversity at Freie Universität becomes an even more integrated and visible aspect of our university culture.”
The audit process was led by vice president Professor Verena Blechinger-Talcott and Gabriele Rosenstreich, head of the Diversity and Antidiscrimination Office. It was also supported by various members of the university’s diversity governance structures. The measures have been implemented by a wide range of offices and working groups across Freie Universität. The audit process also involved exchange with other universities, which provided insights that in turn enriched Freie Universität Berlin’s internal processes.
Prof. Dr. Verena Blechinger-Talcott, Executive Vice President of Freie Universität, Tel.: +49 30 838 731 10
Gabriele Rosenstreich, head of the Diversity and Antidiscrimination Office, Tel.: +49 30 838 68847
https://www.fu-berlin.de/en/sites/diversity/diversity-fu/diversity-audit/index.html, more information on the audit
https://www.fu-berlin.de/en/sites/diversity/diversity-fu/diversity-konzept/index.html, Freie Universität's Diversity Strategy and Action Plan
http://www.stifterverband.org/pressemitteilungen/2023_02_14_diversity_audit_hochschulen_zertifiziert, Stifterverband press release (in German)