Forbes names UAB one of America’s Best Employers for Diversity

UAB’s diverse workforce is recognized by Forbes as one of the best in the nation, chosen based on an independent survey of more than 50,000 employees working for companies employing at least 1,000 people.

Exterior of the Hill Student Center facing East, showing the UAB fin, at sunset, October 2020.The University of Alabama at Birmingham, consistently recognized for achievements in diversity, has been named America’s No. 4 Best Employer for Diversity by Forbes. Its diverse community brings connections both to social and ethnic groups and to individual life experiences.

“Inclusive excellence is not simply something we aim to do; it is who we are as an institution,” said Paulette Dilworth, Ph.D., vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at UAB. “Being counted among the top five employers for diversity in the entire country speaks to the intentionality of inclusion and equity efforts throughout the UAB enterprise. Each day, our employees are making an effort to live out our Shared Values of integrity, respect, diversity and inclusiveness, and accountability.” 

Forbes’ Best Employers for Diversity were chosen based on an independent survey of more than 50,000 employees working for companies employing at least 1,000 people in their United States operations. Respondents were asked questions regarding the topics of age, gender equality, ethnicity, disability, LGBTQA+ and general diversity concerning their own employer. 

“Being named a Best Employer for Diversity is particularly rewarding because it shows that our focused efforts are noticed and appreciated, but the significance reaches far off-campus,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts. “As the largest single employer in Alabama, with more than 23,000 employees, our richly diverse workforce makes Birmingham and our region a better place to live, work and play.”

This announcement comes on the heels of UAB’s being named America’s No. 1 Best Large Employer by Forbes in February.

“A diverse workforce better serves and meets the needs of a diverse community,” said UAB Medicine CEO Reid Jones. “UAB Medicine takes great pride in delivering world-class care to all patients who need us, and a focus on diversity is critical to our ability to deliver on that promise.”

Intentionally building a diverse workforce

Building and training a diverse and inclusive workforce is a cornerstone of UAB’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Several programs are set up to champion equity and inclusion and, in particular, to advocate for inclusive excellence and equity across campus.

In an effort to recruit and develop a diverse faculty population, ODEI partners with the Office of the Provost to offer a newly designed UAB Faculty Searches: A Guide to Best Practices that follows the steps of the recruitment process and integrates additional resources for hiring the most qualified candidate.

For continued development, a four-part Diversity Education curriculum offers employees education topics designed to provide the campus community with a greater understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion and its importance as a shared value at UAB. The online module provides a framework for understanding basic diversity concepts for all employees at UAB and is designed to explore the impact of identities in workplace interactions and relationships and provide strategies for improving our practices and culture. The curriculum includes four instructor-led courses, including Cultural Awareness Building Blocks, Unconscious Bias, Safe Zone Training and Bystander Intervention.

Promoting diversity, equity and inclusion at all levels

UAB has strategically charged groups across campus with identifying opportunities and leading the way at all levels of the university. Groups include:

  • Equity Leadership Council: Plays a central role in raising awareness, promoting understanding and diversity education, monitoring faculty and staff searches and other hiring processes, and consulting on matters of equity. Equity advisers leverage their direct experience with local culture to advise their deans regarding strategy, policy, diversity education, climate and accountability.
  • Commission on the Status of Women: Is dedicated to promoting gender inclusion and equity by supporting and improving options and opportunities for women at every stage of their education and career. The commission’s members support work-life balance initiatives, training and development of emerging leaders, and community outreach to improve the academic climate and work environment at UAB. 
  • UAB Medicine focuses on recuriting and retaining a deverse employee population to support its diverse patient population.
  • Alliance for LGBTQ Equality: Supports and advances the UAB Strategic Diversity Plan through inclusion of “the full range of human difference and potential that manifests itself in individual members of the campus community,” including those who are LGBTQ members of the campus community and their allies. The alliance seeks to enrich diversity and contribute to a high-quality intellectual, cultural, educational and work environment for all members.
  • African American Faculty Association: Is committed to recruiting, retaining and supporting African American faculty, providing faculty with support and mentoring for professional development, advocating for African American faculty and their needs and concerns, promoting communication and networking between association faculty and other faculty groups, supporting faculty and student activities, and encouraging participation in campus governance.
  • Veterans Services: Supports the policies and practices of equal opportunity in education and employment, including the hiring of veterans and their families. UAB was named Birmingham’s Most Veteran Friendly Employerin 2016 by the Birmingham Business Journal for its commitment to increase the number of veterans in its workforce and has been actively involved in veteran recruitment and outreach.
  • AWARE: provides disability-management services when an employee’s job is affected by a physical, mental or emotional impairment. Through a unique partnership between UAB and the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, the AWARE Program assists current employees and their departments, job seekers going through the application process, and employees returning from long-term disability or medical leave. 

In addition, the university is involved in national associations and institutions to further develop the diversity on its campus, including the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity.