As part of the Human Resources Design project, a work team will focus on recommendations to improve the workplace climate and increase diversity for University of Wisconsin faculty and staff

The Diverse Workforce team is a branch of the Human Resources Design Project and composed of one faculty member, one graduate student and 10 staff members, team member Mary Hoddy said. It is intended make changes to the UW personnel system that will create a more effective and stronger workforce.

In particular, the purpose of the Diverse Workforce is to evaluate the recommendations of the other work teams and the potential impact they could have on the diversity and equity of UW’s workforce, according to Hoddy. Additionally, the team produces its own recommendations for addressing diversity and equity.

Jennifer Sheridan, a team leader on the Diversity Workforce, said she defines workplace climate as how comfortable someone feels in their work environment and whether they feel that others respect them and value their work.

“The reason that climate is such an important issue for the Diverse Workforce team is because people who are underrepresented in some way, [such as] underrepresented minorities, gender, gay/lesbian employees and employees with disabilities, tend to report feelings of worse climate than those in the majority,” Sheridan said.

The Diverse Workforce team has issued recommendations they hope will help shape better working climates for UW employees. These draft recommendations included better welcoming of employees into their working units and ensuring those who supervise are expected to create a good atmosphere, according to the draft recommendation.

The team also recommended all employees be held accountable for respectable behavior in the workplace. According to the draft, the fourth recommendation directly addresses diversity in stating that more education and training opportunities centered on diversity, inclusion and respectful communication should be pursued.

The members of the Diverse Workforce team believe improving the workplace climate will aid the recruitment and retention of diverse individuals in the UW system, Sheridan said.

“If you don’t feel respected and valued in your work unit, then you are more likely to leave,” Sheridan said.

Currently, the team is focusing on the next step towards finalizing their recommendations and are gathering feedback from members of the UW community on the draft recommendations, Sheridan said.

Among those being surveyed about the recommendations are student employees, Sheridan said.

“We want to make sure students also have an excellent working climate when they are working in UW-Madison labs, dorms, kitchens, offices, centers, libraries and classrooms,” Sheridan said.

The Diverse Workforce team must still evaluate the final recommendations from the other work teams involved in the project.

The final recommendations will be released by June or early July.

“Designing a project with diversity at its center, rather than an add-on goal, will hopefully enhance our efforts to hire and retain a more diverse workforce,” Hoddy said.