The ENHANCE staff week focusing on diversity and inclusion was organised in Milan from 13 to 15 June. Under the title “ENHANCing Talent for All”, administrative staff from all the partners universities working in human resources, equal opportunities, marketing and recruitment, or student services were invited to participate in this international experience and learn more about these important topics.
Three days to talk about topics that matter to society
23 participants from eight partners universities but also from the two Ukrainian universities that are associated partners (Lviv Polytechnic National University and Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute) gathered in Milan for this staff week dedicated to inclusion and diversity. The main goal was to foster equal opportunities, a centre-stage topic and core value for the ENHANCE Alliance which believes that diversity and gender equality lead to healthy organisations and to innovation. “We firmly believe in providing equal opportunities for everyone to uncover their unique talents,” Melih Özkardes, Ombudsman for Diversity in ENHANCE, explained. For the leading universities of technology composing the Alliance, promoting a safe and equal environment is a way to work towards making exchanges and opportunities accessible for all their members.
“Our mission is to create a supportive framework where students and staff can flourish, making a meaningful impact on society. We call upon our entire community, including those in privileged situations, to actively address these issues and become advocates for positive change.” (Melih Özkardes, Ombudsman for Diversity in ENHANCE)
The staff week in Milan was the occasion for the people working to achieve this goal of inclusivity and accessibility at different university to get together, exchange, and learn from each other. Through testimonials, lectures, group works, and field visits, the participants worked on a specific theme for each day. Day one was dedicated to valorising diversity, day two focused on revealing talents, and day three tackled the topic of facing stereotypes.
A international experience to work together
“The Staff Week in Milan was a great contribution to mission,” Melih Özkardes added, expressing his “appreciation to all the participants, who now stand as ambassadors of transformation within our ENHANCE community.” This international experience was mostly focused on sharing best practices, with one of the goals being to learn about inclusion and diversity policies at partner universities and share ideas on projects and activities promoting inclusion. The activities of the ENHANCE Alliance in this field were also presented to the participants.
The different panels and discussions were a great opportunity to reflect about stereotypes in general but also the role of universities in creating an inclusive environment that fosters the development of talent. During his speech on the last day of the workshop, Prof. Stefano Ronchi, PoliMi’s Vice Rector for Education, emphasized the importance of unity to face these topics, especially across borders: “The individual countries alone are nothing,” he said, “European countries should stand together, we should not erase our differences but valorise our diversity, enrich ourselves by getting the best of those differences.”
As Prof. Ronchi also added, “integration means listening and appreciating diversity” and the ENHANCE Alliance is proud to provide a space to facilitate the conversation on diversity and inclusion.