VMU commended by the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson
In October 2023, Vytautas Magnus University (VMU) received the highest evaluation – three Equal Opportunity Wings – from the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson for its achievements in mainstreaming equal opportunities at the University. This means that the University is committed to ensuring equal opportunities for all members of the community, aiming to enhance not only the quality and outcomes of research and studies but also the conditions of study and work.
“Being a part of the ‘Equal Opportunity Wings’ signifies that the University integrates and implements equal opportunities policies in its activities and is committed to following the principles of equal opportunities. The three wings symbolise that the organisation nurtures a culture that supports and actively promotes equal opportunities,” says Laura Lapinskė, Equal Opportunities Coordinator at VMU.
According to the specialist, this evaluation also indicates that the organisation meets all four criteria in the three-wing category, including priorities in the field of equal opportunities (e.g., reducing the pay gap, inclusion of employees with disabilities, etc.), an Equality Plan with measures to promote equal opportunities, a transparent and publicly accessible pay system, and the involvement of employees and managers in initiatives for equal opportunities implementation.
A team of University researchers and experts has also prepared a Gender Equality Plan (2021-2025), following the recommendations of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE). This plan places a strong focus on gender balance, anti-discriminatory equal opportunities policies, reducing vertical and horizontal gender segregation, and integrating gender equality into studies and scientific research.
“In addition to gender equality, VMU also has disability policy formulation and implementation as one of its key priorities in the field of equal opportunities. In 2021, VMU Senate approved a disability policy document ‘University of Inclusive Opportunities’, which aims to ensure a culture of equality and non-discrimination at the University by making appropriate adjustments to study and working conditions and increasing accessibility to study/work. In 2015, the Lithuanian Association of People with Disabilities awarded VMU a certificate confirming the University’s accessible infrastructure and disability-friendly services,” says Lapinskė.
According to the VMU Equal Opportunities Coordinator, the University strives to create a safe and tolerant environment and an organisational culture based on trust and dignity. “To ensure this and to prevent discrimination, a Trust Line has been set up, which can be contacted in the event of experiencing or witnessing sexual harassment, psychological abuse, oppression, mobbing, other offensive behaviour, or discrimination. Each case is investigated by experts in the relevant field, who guarantee complete confidentiality,” says Lapinskė, describing the equal opportunities policy.
In order to educate the community, the University annually participates in public events on human rights, inclusion, and diversity. From 2019 to 2023, it participated in the Supporting and Implementing Plans for Gender Equality in Academia and Research (SPEAR) project that focused on implementing gender equality policies within the institution. Additionally, the University carries out inclusive international projects such as Be Hate Free, Unidiversity, Religion and Gender Equality, The Generations and Gender, and more.
In order to disseminate best practices and promote equal opportunities in other organisations, the equal opportunities activities implemented in VMU are presented on the website of the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson. More information about the Equal Opportunity Wings and the participating organisations can be found here.