Introducing GEP at Kozminski University

Author: Anna M. Górska, PhD (GEP project co-leader)

Kozminski University (KU) is a private university founded in 1993. The values of equality, inclusion and solidarity has always been as part of the university identity. Already in 1993 KU introduced Kozminski Decalogue which comprises of 10 core KU values. In 2020 KU introduced Sustainability Transition Strategy, as the first university in Poland to set the path for the more sustainable future of the university.

As part of the transition strategy, KU has chosen six sustainable development goals, and Gender Equality was one of the objectives that we chose as a priority for the upcoming years. Gender is also considered in the research aspects of KU, as we there are multiple researchers studying gender in the business and management context, KU even has a dedicated research Center for Women and Diversity in Organizations. Moreover, there are dedicated classes at bachelor and master level to bring values of gender equality closer to students. There is also a dedicated postgraduate program on LeaderShe aimed to support women in developing their managerial careers. The university also organizes events, workshops and conferences for students and academics on gender equality. Thus, values of equality are visible throughout the organization.

Thus, introduction of Gender Equality Plan was a natural step for the university that is to help to better strategize and operationalize the gender equality initiatives.

When preparing GEP, our aim was to make an inclusive plan that considers various perspectives from all KU community, including faculty on different levels, professional staff, doctoral students, and students. To this end we decided to create a diverse group of KU employees to ensure a variety of perspectives and opinions to be included in our GEP. As a result, GEP Taskforce comprised of 12 members of KU community, including, junior, middle, and senior faculty, leaders, administrative employees, and doctoral students. The team meet every week for three months to present and discuss the progress of developing the plan.

To ensure that the GEP reflects various needs of KU community, the process started with a comprehensive study of KU employees- starting with gathering of secondary data, including internal reports on students, employment, teaching, research, and administrative work. Further, basing on three focus groups conducted with faculty, administrative employees, and students, we gained a broader perspective what it means to work at KU. Finally, basing on the survey we could better understand the scope of existing barriers women and men of KU face.

Each study was vastly consulted within the GEP team, from the development of the research question and research tool to interpretation of the results. The team discussed the meaning and reasons behind the identified gender inequalities to further propose actions and tools to solve them. I believe that was the most demanding part- to include various points of view and opinions on how to improve gender equality.

As a result of our work, Kozminski University GEP comprises of the following objectives:

1. Supporting the development of women’s careers at Kozminski University
2. Increasing transparency and impact of women employees in creating procedures and the functioning of the University
3. Supporting work, study, and family life
4. Making invisible work visible
5. Fostering an inclusive organizational culture

It is important to emphasize that such documents should be regularly reviewed and adjusted to the changing needs.

The work on GEP showed us that there are not universal solutions that would erase the problem, instead it is rather a game of chutes and ladders that can be supportive for one group, while can become a barrier for others. For example, when discussing more flexible arrangements for those caring responsibilities- giving them possibility to flexible schedule classes, means that others may be faced with less beneficial arrangements on teaching hours. Or offering dedicated funds for parents of young children, may exclude grandparents of young children who also have additional caring duties, while often are not included in such benefits. Thus, one of the challenges is to offer solutions that would also consider those who are often omitted in GEP.

We strongly believe that the GEP is the next step to make our institution more inclusive and equal.