In May this year we asked all University of Cape Town (UCT) staff to take part in a completely anonymous InclusionIndex Inclusivity Survey, which was developed by an external service provider Aephoria and adjusted for UCT. Thank you once again to everyone who participated. We recognise that while we strive for a UCT that is inclusive for all, and which is a welcoming and safe space, this goal is unfortunately not always achieved. This is why we wanted to hear from all staff about their experiences.
The questions asked will help us to identify what makes relationships difficult in the UCT workplace, so that we can develop specific interventions to help improve those relationships.
Since the conclusion of the survey, the Aephoria team has been hard at work analysing the quantitative data. Their initial findings indicate that there is a strong sense of institutional belonging, and staff generally feel that they fit in at UCT. UCT staff also largely have a good relationship with their individual line managers and acknowledge that leadership within the university prioritises inclusion and emphasises the importance of transformation at UCT.
While this is wonderful to hear, there are also some areas that need work. The data shows that many staff feel bullied at UCT, while others are still dealing with the trauma experienced during the tumultuous years of 2015–2017 and suffering from depression and anxiety as a result. This decrease in emotional well-being resonates with the alarming global trend, which shows that staff, worldwide, are experiencing mental health concerns and therefore, as UCT, we need to provide meaningful and effective wellness programmes for staff. Transparency in recruitment, development and advancement processes was also highlighted as a concern.
These are initial results and need further interrogation in order to develop appropriate interventions. Thus, to explore themes more fully, Aephoria is now inviting UCT staff to participate in focus groups and one-on-one interviews during the next few weeks. Multilingual focus groups or interviews can be arranged by request. Attendance is completely voluntary, and anyone can attend – not only staff who completed the questionnaire.
The focus groups are 90-minute sessions and, while voluntary, we encourage everyone to attend.
The one-on-one, 60-minute interviews will allow people an anonymous and private space to talk. Aephoria staff will run these interviews in person, via phone or Skype.
Specific departments where inclusion has worked very well, from which good practice can be gleaned, will be approached via email to attend a departmental workshop.
If you would like to volunteer for the focus groups or the one-on-one interviews, please email Aephoria to arrange your participation. As with the quantitative survey, UCT staff will not be facilitating the focus groups or interviews.
There is also the UCT Staff Inclusivity Survey web page to help keep you updated and informed.
Thank you for partaking in the survey, and I hope that you will continue to help the university to transform by participating once again.
Professor Loretta Feris
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Transformation
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