Measures for diversity management

(Illustrasjonsbilde: iStockphoto)

“Diversity management is a conscious effort by an organization to develop and utilize the opportunities found in a workplace comprised of employees with different backgrounds. It has to do with taking specific steps to recruit, retain and take advantage of employees’ diversity,” says Professor Gro Mjeldheim Sandal of the University of Bergen in the interview “What is diversity management?” 

These efforts should become an integrated element of the research sector’s governance, management and culture. Additionally, managers need tools and knowledge about diversity management.

But how can diversity management be achieved in practice?

An introduction to diversity and gender equality management should be mandatory in regular management training programmes, recommends the KIF Committee. For more details (in Norwegian only), see the KIF Committee’s recommendations for diversity management.

Yet expertise in gender equality and diversity is seldom a requirement in management hiring and leadership development at the institutions that responded to a survey-based review (in Norwegian only). A number of survey respondents expressed a need to raise their managers’ expertise in gender equality and diversity. They are calling for courses for themselves and other managers. Read the summary of the report. 

Another report, “Being a foreigner is no advantage” (2016), underlines the need for supportive diversity management. Institutions need to strive to ensure that the academic environment is genuinely inclusive. The authors of the report recommend that middle managers at universities and university colleges should incorporate measures for the management and facilitation of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

To achieve an organizational culture that respects people and their differences, diversity expertise is often identified as a need in academia. Particularly important here is knowledge about stereotypes and implicit bias, as well as awareness of intersectionality, or how various forms of discrimination such as gender and ethnicity can interact to reinforce or weaken one another.

For more about this area, see the article about barriers to diversity in academia (in Norwegian only).


Below is an overview of measures and examples from the action plans of universities and university colleges, grouped into the following categories:

Managerial responsibility for measures

Where responsibility for initiating measures is placed within the institution is crucial for whether measures are implemented, communicated to the employees and followed up. This responsibility – along with accountability for the results of this work – should be rooted in top management.

Responsibility for measures in the research sector is assigned at various levels, mostly with the management. Some examples are:

  • The Institute for Social Research (ISF) places responsibility for development and follow-up plans with the head of each research department. These plans are also set out in the strategic and action plan, which is approved by the board and reviewed in the management group. The top-level management follows up the project manager responsibility. Monitoring of project manager responsibility is also laid down in the action plan and reviewed in the management group. Language training is the director’s decision.
  • The International Research Institute of Stavanger (IRIS) places responsibility for Norwegian language courses with the head of research.
  • Simula Research Laboratory has assigned responsibility for all its measures to the management.
  • The Nofima Food Research Institute reports that diversity and equality in recruitment processes are described in the personnel handbook under recruitment and employment, and responsibility is distributed throughout the organization.
  • The Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU) has placed responsibility for all its measures at the departmental level.
  • The University of Oslo (UiO) has incorporated its action plan for equality into the Strategy 2020 and included it as part of UiO’s personnel policy.
  • SINTEF has assigned responsibility for measures for non-Norwegian employees to the corporate management group. In addition, the SINTEF school is responsible for Norwegian language courses, and support upon arrival and language training are laid down in strategies and closely linked with the management.
  • The Norwegian Academy of Music (NMH) facilitates the recruitment of students with diverse artistic and cultural references. This is set out in the academy’s strategy under the section “students at the forefront” and responsibility lies with all levels of management.
  • The Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) has placed responsibility for recruitment measures at the departmental level. Responsibility for labour market measures for the unemployed lies at the departmental level, while Norwegian language courses are the responsibility of the human resources department.

Diversity expertise

Core aspects of diversity management include flexibility, cultural intelligence, an ability to unite people across their differences, showing empathy, and acknowledging differences as a strength, according to the authors Brenna and Solheim in their 2018 article on how to promote diversity (in Norwegian only).

This kind of competence among managers is vital for unlocking the value of diversity and gender balance. Institutions have different measures for raising managers’ and employees’ competence in topics relating to diversity and diversity management.

  • Programme for diversity management

OsloMet aims to become a more “diversity-aware” organization by raising competence. Diversity is to be more closely linked to value creation and innovation. OsloMet’s programme for diversity management is designed to inform managers at all levels and other selected target groups about diversity, regardless of the forms of discrimination or diversity dimension. The programme is to be incorporated into the university’s overall competence plan and is mandatory for managers at all levels and for selected target groups such as employee representatives, safety representatives, student representatives and HR staff.

  • Courses on diversity management

The University College of South-Eastern Norway strives to enhance understanding and competence for realizing the inherent potential of diversity. This is being approached through competence-building for managers, employees and students alike. Seminars with the theme of diversity management are held for employees, and they participate in annual networking conferences (in Norwegian only) on gender equality and diversity. Efforts to promote diversity are discussed regularly in management meetings.

  • Diversity management for managers

Selected managers at the University of Agder (UiA) are to undergo real competence-building on diversity management. The Centre for Gender and Equality and the UiA personnel and organization department are responsible for carrying this out.

Diversity networks and committees

Many Norwegian universities and university colleges have established networks or committees to ensure that efforts to promote diversity are structured and integrated, and are emphasized at the management level. The Norwegian Police University College (PHS) has set up an advisory and qualification committee that also follows up work on action plans and the duty to prevent criminal acts.

See also more about gender equality committees here 

  • Diversity committee

PHS has established a diversity committee that primarily serves as a qualification and advisory body for PHS on issues relating to diversity and gender equality. The committee’s main tasks are to assist PHS managers in their active, targeted efforts to promote diversity, and to ensure follow-up of the action plan throughout the organization.

  • Gender equality and inclusion committee

The University of Agder’s gender equality and inclusion committee is to take a leading role in promoting gender equality and diversity for employees and students. The committee provides guidance, conducts activities, recommends new measures, and is responsible for ensuring follow-up of work on gender equality and diversity and for annually reporting figures and statistics in this field. The rector or a vice rector chairs the committee.

  • Network for diversity

The University of Oslo will establish a network for administrative staff (in Norwegian only) who work with diversity-related projects and spheres. The network is to ensure that the topic of diversity is emphasized at management levels in keeping with the overarching goal to raise diversity awareness and enhance the knowledge base.

  • Action group for integrated diversity efforts

OsloMet has set a goal for diversity work to be less dependent on individuals and more coordinated and integrated. A cross-cutting action group is being set up, headed by the director of OsloMet’s programme for diversity management. A more cross-cutting work method will help to ensure the flow of information and an integrated approach to promoting diversity. In addition, access to resources will mean less vulnerability and greater impact.

  • Analysis team

OsloMet’s core value of diversity is to be an integrated component of the university’s governance, management and culture. An established analysis team reviews OsloMet’s main strategies, policy documents and initiatives. The team also identifies areas where a clearer diversity perspective is needed.

Follow-up of measures

All public institutions in Norway are obliged to promote gender equality and diversity through active, targeted and planned work. They must also give a yearly account of their efforts.

For more about how universities, university colleges and research institutes are expected to work with gender equality, and about eligibility criterion for funding under the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (Horizon 2020), see here: Action plans for equality and diversity

Many universities and university colleges have gender equality and diversity committees, and/or gender equality advisors, to follow up and report on action plans and work to promote gender equality.

  • Reporting

UiA has established its own gender equality and inclusion committee, responsible for reporting figures, statistics and status regarding the university’s efforts to promote gender equality, diversity and inclusion. This forms a basis for UiA’s further reporting to the Ministry of Education and Research and other government bodies. If the committee finds irregularities or challenge areas within the organization, it will propose action to take.

UiO reports on follow-up of its action plan and gender equality work after each period. Read more about the results and progress on the UiO website here (only in Norwegian). 

The Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU) monitors the status of diversity at its institution and reports this to its own board, as well as to Statistics Norway and the Nordic Institute of Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU).

The Nofima Food Research Institute (Nofima) has annual reporting of employee statistics from the human resources department to the management group relating to gender balance in the organization, female and male managers at various levels, and employees whose native language is not Norwegian.

At OsloMet, those who are responsible for measures must submit an annual status report detailing follow-up efforts to the programme for diversity management’s director. This director is responsible for providing the rector with an overall status report on diversity measures in connection with the annual report.

  • Individualized development plans

The Institute for Social Research (ISF) holds annual employee reviews in which individualized development and follow-up plans are drawn up. According to ISF, the plans are now used to facilitate the career development of female researchers, but they could also be useful in assisting employees who have different backgrounds.

  • Evaluation of measures

Simula Research Laboratory assesses whether the measures are working as intended and which improvements can be made to ease the transition to working life in Norway, and helps to ensure that the working environment is well adapted for all groups. The institute conducts various surveys to clarify issues around this, including a questionnaire for new employees from abroad hired in the past year and a half. In this survey, Simula receives feedback on what is working well and should be continued, and what can be adjusted so that the institute can offer an even better support system.


Are you a student or staff member in higher education with an idea for measures or projects that belong on our list? Email us!

Find relevant information from Kifinfo under these headings:


Organizational culture 


Recommendations on diversity management
The KIF Committee held a workshop on diversity management on 23 August 2019 for managers and organizers of management courses. The Committee’s secretariat drew up a memorandum (in Norwegian only) summarizing the recommendations generated from the workshop.

See the KIF Committee’s arguments for gender balance and diversity management

Read more recommendations and research on diversity measures (in Norwegian only) in the report Diversity management – A literature review (Drange, 2014).

For more about diversity management, see: Mobilize Strategy Consulting, Seema diversity management and KUN diversity management (in Norwegian only).