Campus News

UK Named a 2021 ‘Best Employer for Diversity’ by Forbes

Engineering professor Martha Grady in her laser lab.
Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 30, 2021) — The University of Kentucky has been ranked on the Forbes list of "Best Employers for Diversity" in 2021.

Partnering with market research company Statista, Forbes’ annual list recognizes businesses with at least 1,000 employees who demonstrate a strong commitment to inclusive workplace practices. UK ranked no. 81 on the list. 

Fifty-thousand Americans were surveyed and asked to identify companies they believe are most dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion. The final list ranks the 500 employers that not only received the most recommendations, but also boast the most diverse boards and executive ranks, as well as the most proactive diversity and inclusion initiatives.

“In the past year, the university has embarked on an ambitious, comprehensive campaign to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus,” said George Wright, interim vice president for institutional diversity. “I have seen hundreds of members of this community come together to create a culture of acceptance, and this honor reflects that commitment to each other, our mission as the Commonwealth’s university and to the world. I am deeply proud of this recognition and know that it will inspire UK to keep working toward that goal.”

While the past year has been one of large social justice pushes, Forbes notes that the need for more corporate diversity, equity and inclusion programs has become more pressing than ever before. 

Last summer, President Eli Capilouto announced the formation of an extensive Diversity, Equity and Inclusion process — spanning nearly 20 projects and more than 500 people across campus. 

The university has identified six broad workstreams — for faculty and staff; students; culture, policies and programming; facilities and finances; research; and community outreach. Those distinct efforts range from expanding professional development opportunities, to implementing a diversity and inclusivity master plan.

Highlights of the first phase of the master plan include:

  • Specifically, a project team for several months has been working to identify existing areas of concern on the campus relative to institutional history, art, sculpture and civic landscapes, accessibility and other barriers to inclusion within buildings across the campus. 
  • On capital projects over $1 million, we will automatically create a fund to commission art that manifestly enhances diversity, equity and inclusion on the campus. 
  • After a national search, Marilyn Clark has agreed to join the university as supplier diversity manager — a critical position that will provide the dedicated focus required to build trust and credibility in the community related to procurement. Clark, who is deeply respected throughout the community, joins UK after spending more than five years with the Fayette County schools in a similar role.

The university’s long-standing commitment to fostering an inclusive and diverse workforce is reflected in this recent recognition. As the University of, and for, Kentucky, the university continues to strive for inclusive excellence by supporting processes that help address long-standing inequalities and social injustices.

To view the Forbes list, click here

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.