Diversity of life – but how?


How can a long-term strategy for a diverse and inclusive culture be developed? The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics relies on a local working group

There are currently 14 local diversity groups in the Max Planck Society. One of them is the Diversity & Inclusion Working Group of the MPI in Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. At the initiative of director Caroline Rowland, it went live in 2021. month of January. Since then, a group of 22 participants from across the institute has been promoting comprehensive cultural change, from the inside out.

Whether it’s inclusive language on the website and in publications, or diversity training for staff or internships for disadvantaged students: the institute is already implementing some of the measures in the long-term strategy that the working group has developed over the years. A call for proposals is currently being launched for the Diversity and Inclusion Officer, which will further promote the implementation of the strategy, which is also a tool in the strategy paper. Cooperation in the working group has already made a difference – no less participants who agree that they have learned a lot: about their own and others’ perspectives. Five members explain why they participate in the working group and to whom they are committed. The picture of the mood is as diverse as it is inspiring.

Caroline Rowland, director

All people must be able to reach their full potential. But the reality is different: barriers in society and science mean that some people don’t achieve it. One of my tasks as director of Max Planck is to remove as many of these obstacles as possible. So, along with my staff, Karin and Anique took the opportunity to initiate a D&I strategy here at the institute. Importantly, our role is not to lead a working group. Rather, we moderate them so that various ideas are heard, supported and implemented. It is this diversity of votes in our working group and throughout the institute that makes us very optimistic that we will actually achieve our goal: in ten years’ time, to have a much more diverse institute where everyone feels safe and secure. and valued in their work. No matter how everyone has reacted to the initiative so far, I am confident we will succeed!

Maggie WongDeputy Officer for Equal Opportunities

One of the concerns of our D&I team is to design and implement tools to make our institute more diverse and inclusive for people of all genders. The concept of diversity includes gender equality. So there is a natural interaction between these two problems. Our institute has its own equality plan that complements our D&I strategy document. It also has a special section on gender equality. I have been working as an Equal Opportunities Officer for a year now and am currently focusing on optimizing our recruitment process for new staff from academia and non-academia. For example, we would like to introduce a checklist to ensure that gender equality is taken into account from the very first application.

Julia von der Fuhrliaison officer

Communication strategy is an essential part of our D&I strategy. Our activities are initially designed to help raise awareness at the institute: we try to use inclusive language, we encourage open dialogue, we inform colleagues about our …

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