Central to community and inclusion is that the community members feel accepted and valued as themselves. Belonging to a study community means gaining experiences of the relevance of studies and identification with the student community. The sense of belonging is unique and can only be triggered if students identify themselves with the community. That is why it is important to think how to create and promote the sense of inclusion in your teaching.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Aalto
Learning hub on diversity and inclusion
Actions for diversity and inclusion
Do you want to help Aalto University build an open and accepting community for everyone?
Learning about diversity and inclusion makes us better equipped for fostering a good community. Read books, listen to podcasts, or have discussions with your peers – whatever works best for you. Increasing understanding of diversity enables us to better implement its values in our everyday lives. This page provides an updated collection of tips, inspiring reads, and practical support materials to guide you towards maintaining diversity and inclusivity as part of your everyday life at Aalto. To start with, you can find a mini-library filled with inspiring materials below.
Equality refers to an aim to provide a non-discriminatory, equal and accessible environment in which employees and students with diverse backgrounds receive equal and fair treatment and are free to study and work without fear of discrimination.
Diversity refers to all of the ways we differ, e.g. education, age, gender, nationality or personality traits – any visible or non-visible attributes that make us different from each other.
Inclusion refers to an environment of involvement and respect, where everyone can be their true self, feel a sense of belonging, and where our different backgrounds and perspectives are seen as strengths.
Guidelines for inclusive interaction
We want every community member to feel welcome and safe. By behaving in a responsible manner and respecting the rights of the other members of our community we let everyone equal opportunity to enjoy a safe and pleasant university environment that allows unhindered progress in study and work.
Below you can find guidelines for inclusive interaction that foster inclusive daily encounters with other community members.
Meet people around you with an open mind and understand that others will come to situations with diverse backgrounds and different experiences from yours. Respect the diversity of people and their boundaries, and give everyone space to be themselves.
Strive to recognize how your own position, background and experiences affects to your thinking patterns, perspectives and your way of working with people. Our unconscious biases and stereotypes may be attributed unfairly to different groups of people, so be careful about assumptions and generalizations you make. You cannot know the experiences, thoughts, life situation, or self-defined identity of others.
Stay open to fresh perspectives, share experiences, listen others and experiment other ways to foster open discourse, encourage free exchange of ideas and build mutual trust. Give space to everyone and make sure everyone is involved. Respect each other’s time, space & effort. It’s ok to ask questions and it’s ok to disagree.
Have discussions with colleagues, read books, listen to podcasts, and be open to change your view based on new learnings.
Use welcoming communication that makes others feel safe and creates inoffensive work or study environment. Use also language that everyone understands so that everyone may participate.
If you learn that something you’ve said was experienced as disrespectful or excluding, listen carefully and try to understand that perspective and apologize. Try to forgive others if they harm you by accident. Tips on how to turn such situations into learning experiences instead of conflicts here.
Practical tips for inclusive language here.
We are bound to make mistakes, so give each other room to make mistakes and be compassionate to yourself and others. Strive to see your and others mistakes as valuable elements of the learning process.
Recognizing and removing inclusion barriers is an on-going process. If you notice inclusion barriers do not hesitate to act. Respectfully tackle biased language, if you witness it, by firmly and non-judgmentally confronting what you don’t find acceptable. Do not hesitate to ask for help if you feel you need even a little help: support is available, and Aalto has clear shared principles and processes for handling these situations.
In all cases and with all questions you can contact Aalto's harassment and inappropriate contact persons. They can be contacted confidentially and they do not proceed your case without your permission. See Preventing harassment and inappropriate conduct for more information.
Tips, toolkits and inspiring reads for fostering diversity
In this EDI Resource Bank you find the latest training, research, knowledge and best practices from Aalto and around the world.
Learning about diversity and inclusion makes us better equipped for fostering a good community. Read books, listen to podcasts, or have discussions with your peers – whatever works best for you. Increasing understanding of diversity enables us to better implement its values in our everyday lives. To start with, you can find a mini-library filled with inspiring materials below.
- Why Diversity Matters in Academia webinar
- Interested in arranging a workshop, a facilitated discussion or an introduction on diversity, inclusivity and / or unconscious bias in your team? Please contact University EDI officer [email protected] Also, your School's Development Managers are great liaisons in Equality and Diversity matters.
How diversity makes teams more innovative (TED Talk)
- Diversity Doesn't Stick Without Inclusion (Harvard Business Review)
- Why Diversity Matters? (McKinsey)
- Have you misprocounced someone's name? Here's what to do next. (TED Talk "How to be a better human" series)
- Sara Ahmed: On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00B9AQCB6/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_d_asin_title_o00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
- Jennifer Brown: Diversity, The New Workplace & The Will to Change
Recent past trainings
- From Unconcious Bias to Inclusive Teams - Open training to Faculty and Staff Trainer: Jonna Louvrier, PhD, Founder & CEO at Includia Leadership (September 2020).
- Diversity and Minorities in Customer Service - Open training to customer service personnel (e.g. library staff) (October 2020)
- From Unconscious bias to inclusive work groups - Open training to faculty & staff. Trainer: Jonna Louvrier, PhD, Founder & CEO of Includia Leadership (2 modules, January 2021)
- Fostering D&I in project courses - Open training to teaching staff and pedagogues of Aalto University organized by AVP. Trainer: Ekvalita (January 2021)
- Introduction to diversity and inclusion - workshop for service staff Trainer: Inklusiiv (April 2021)
- Fostering inclusion in the workplace - workshop for service staff Trainer: Inklusiiv (April 2021)
It’s important to become aware of the concept of 'unconscious bias'. The phrase 'unconscious bias' refers to our tendency to make automatic assumptions about others based on our own backgrounds and experiences. If not acknowledged, unconscious bias may easily lead to unintended discrimination which can cause racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic inequalities. Biases affect us even when we have good intentions, especially when making decisions regarding other people. This is a compelling ~2 minute video by The Royal Society which captures the essence of bias in academia.
Reflecting on our own thoughts and actions in our everyday life is important. Can you recognise your own biased thinking patterns? To support reflection, you can use the Implicit Association Test by Harvard University. The IAT test measures and breaks down the individual associations we make between people and their identities, helping us to become better acquainted with the stereotypes we hold as implicit.
Bias may also lead to microaggressions. To better understand how other experiences may differ from your, see the video on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDd3bzA7450
Pritlove, Juando-Prats, Ala-Leppilampi, Parsons, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in Implicit Bias, Lancet, 373(110171), 2019
Corinne A. Moss-Racusin, John F. Dovidio, Victoria L. Brescoll, Mark J.Graham, Jo Handelsman, Faculty's subtle gender biases favor male students, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109 (41),16395-16396, 2012
Evaluating people in job interviews or promotion discussions is one of the focal points of the inclusivity and diversity initiative. The way we evaluate others at work can either enable or stifle diversity and inclusion within our community. This checklist on less biased evaluation may be useful if you have an interview or promotion discussion coming up. Why not display this checklist on a screen in a committee meeting or at start of an interview or promotion discussion?
- Recruitment at Aalto (including tools to support more objective, merit-based assessment and handbook for quality and diverse recruitment)
- e-learning on Diversity and recruitments for faculty and staff
Recruitment Bias in Research Institutes shared by ERC (video originally by Institució CERCA)
Marieke van den Brink, Yvonne Benschop, Gender in Academic Networking: The Role of Gatekeepers in Professorial Recruitment. Journal of Management Studies, 51(3), 463, 2014
Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, Carroll J. Glynn, Michael Huge, The Matilda Effect in Science Communication: An Experiment on Gender Bias in Publication Quality Perceptions and Collaboration Interest, Science Communication, 35(5), 603–625, 2013
Steinpreis, Rhea.E., Anders, Katie.A. & Ritzke, Dawn. The Impact of Gender on the Review of the Curricula Vitae of Job Applicants and Tenure Candidates: A National Empirical Study, Sex Roles, 41, 509–528, 1999.
Carol Isaac, Barbara Lee, Molly Carnes, Interventions That Affect Gender Bias in Hiring: A Systematic Review, Academic Medicine, 84 (10),1440–1446, 2019
A simple yet powerful way of fostering diversityand inclusion is discussing these issues openly within our own teams. If you are a manager, you can lead by example and bring up these issues in conversation with your team, encouraging an open dialogue. In addition to regular gatherings, team development days provide a good forum for discussing what diversity and inclusion mean within your team as well as how to support them. You can use exercises such as the privilege walk to facilitate discussion. As a teacher, you can engage in dialogue on diversity and inclusion with your students following inclusive teaching best practices, some of which are found in the material library below.
- Why Inclusive Leaders are Good, and How to Become One (Harvard Business Review)
Jennifer Brown: How to be an Inclusive Leader: Your Role in Creating Cultures of Belonging Where Everyone Can Thrive
Have you ever been in a meeting in which one of your colleagues undermined another participant, perhaps by making reference to their age? Have you ever taken part in a recruitment committee conversation about candidates and heard a member of the committee express stereotypical comments, for example about an individual’s cultural fit? This kind of language can be detrimental when it comes to recruitment process, as it gives irrelevant information weight, hindering our ability to evaluate suitability objectivity. Aim to respectfully tackle biased language by firmly and non-judgmentally confronting that which you don’t find acceptable. It's easier to identify bias in others than in yourself.
- About inclusive language
- Tips on how to turn such situations into learning experiences instead of conflicts
Inclusion is relevant to the sense of belonging to the community. A sense of inclusion can be brought through teaching methods and means of interaction. Consider appropriate methods for both teaching and assessment. Be open to students, strive to create a safe learning environment, listen and discuss. Tell students what your choices are based on. Let them set goals for themselves and support the achievement of goals. Give feedback throughout the course and support interaction.
Inclusive Teaching Strategies (University of Washington)
Inclusive Learning Strategies (Stanford University)
22 Cases and Articles to Help Bring Diversity Issues into Class Discussions (Harvard University / Harvard Business Publishing)
Diversity Toolkit: A Guide to Discussing Identity, Power and Privilige (USC University of Southern California)
Supporting students' sense of community and belonging
Inclusive teaching practices are inseparable from high quality teaching practices, so inclusive teaching affects all aspects of a course and learning experience.
Handbook on diversity in recruitments
This handbook is intended for use throughout Aalto community in supporting us making excellent recruitments that foster both excellence and equality.
How to intervene to harassment and inappropriate conduct
The Code of Conduct is one way of putting our values and way of working - the foundation of our community culture - into practice.