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Enhancing the value placed on diversity

Enhancing the value placed on diversity: from the international classroom to the global workplace

Maria Hussain (Leeds University Business School)

Project overview

The university and the world are changing, students and graduates need to be well-equipped to study, work and manage diversity to thrive in an increasingly interconnected and diverse workplace. It is therefore crucial that we enable all students to realise the value of diversity and intercultural understanding to be effective leaders and global citizens of the future. However, recent studies (Rose-Redwood and Rose-Redwood, 2018; Harrison and Peacock, 2010; Leask, 2009) have shown that there are underlying barriers to engagement between different student groups, which may inhibit diverse ways of working and thinking and thus negatively impact on equitable student experience, outcomes, and thus graduate employability (Advance HE (Higher Education), 2020). Data reported in recent studies (Ely and Thomas,2020) on the impact of ‘diversity’ in organisations indicates that having diverse perspectives at all levels of an organisation is pivotal to effective decision-making in the workplace and crucial for a more equitable society. It is thus vital that the value of diversity is really foregrounded during the student life cycle to not only enhance the learning experience but to nurture more inclusive, equitable global leaders of the future.

The principal project impacts are outlined below:

  • Deliver cutting-edge research on student-centred, interdisciplinary, employability and interculturally enabled learning through delivery of two pilot interventions.
  • Engage with students and external partners and graduate recruiters to better understand attitudes and the value of ‘diversity’ in relation to global graduate employability readiness.
  • Develop evidence-based guidelines to inform curriculum development and enhancement in support of the University’s strategy.

The research approach

This project will explore learner attitudes towards ‘diversity’ through a student attitudinal survey to better understand how the perceived value of diversity can be enhanced in the student community. This is to: firstly, nurture greater student-community cohesion leading to more engaging learning experience for all and consequently, to enhance student employability related readiness for the global workplace. In this way is hoped that the project will also support global citizenship through foregrounding the value and necessity of diversity in solving global challenges. The project will be underpinned by a systematic literature review of the literature relating to learner attitudes towards ‘diversity’ in situ.

Furthermore, focus groups will be conducted with students who are engaging in Study Abroad (SA) and work/clinical placements (WP/CP) across three schools. The focus groups will be carried out understand how the learning setting (Trolian and Parker 2022) may affect positive or negative attitudes and behaviours towards ‘diversity’, which will inform phase two of the project, pilot interventions.

Lastly, external stakeholders at large graduate employers such as National Health Service and consultancy companies will provide employer-related views on key graduate attributes and skills demanded of the global workplace. This will inform principles on how to make ‘diversity’ more visible and valuable across the institution.

If you would like to find out more about the project contact Maria (

Each fellowship has a project sponsor that helps the fellows achieve impact across the institution. The sponsor for this fellowship is Paul Taylor.

Project start date: September 2022