University of Wisconsin–Madison

Equity, diversity, inclusion and well-being are fundamental to the employee experience at UW–Madison. It is imperative to recognize the inextricable link between equity, diversity and inclusion with employee well-being. Employees whose emotional, mental, physical or social well-being prevent them from authentically and successfully engaging in their work may be unable to grow and thrive on campus, and may be more likely to leave the institution. This is particularly true for marginalized and/or underrepresented employees on campus.

To achieve equity and employee well-being, we must work to center the humanity of our employees through holistic, whole-person and whole-body approaches to create and sustain equitable and healthy work policies, environments and practices for employees.

“Healing involves more than repairing the deep wounds of racism, healing the scars of sexism, or easing the pain of poverty. Healing is the capacity to restore our humanity and care for ourselves and others, even in the midst of our fear. Healing is the only pathway to real justice because it requires that we take an honest look at what harmed us and pushes us to restore our humanity.” Shawn Ginwright


To model growth and transparency, our office recognizes that we are operating within institutions and structures that create inherent barriers to developing and sustaining healthy, equitable and inclusive workplaces for our employees to engage, grow and thrive on campus. Part of this work is to name and acknowledge what informs our individual and collective work and the impact it continues to have, particularly the differential impact on diverse groups.


The University of Wisconsin–Madison occupies ancestral Ho-Chunk land, a place their nation has called Teejop (day-JOPE) since time immemorial. In an 1832 treaty, the Ho-Chunk were violently forced to cede this territory by the U.S. Government. Grappling with our differential relationships to the land we occupy is important and valuable for understanding histories of colonization and ancestral native histories. These histories inform how we reckon, heal, co-create, and share collaborative spaces and environments on campus (and beyond) as we work toward just futures. Learn more about the history of our land by engaging with the Sifting and Reckoning digital exhibit.


The production of space is informed and structured by individuals, institutions, and systems. As a land-grant institution of higher education, the University of Wisconsin–Madison can and historically has reproduced inequitable and unjust spaces. As space and social relationships are deeply connected, engagement and attention to both the physical and relational ways we reproduce space are necessities.


Power refers to levels of influence — individually, interpersonally, institutionally, systemically — and our ability to make decisions that impact others. We acknowledge that we are operating within an institution of higher education, where power and power structures show up in unique, intentional, and insidious ways. Identity, intersectionality, space and organizational politics all frame and inform this system, and these impact both our access to power and our ability to influence change.


Positionality refers to an individual’s personal values, views, and location in time and space, as well as their role and influence within the institution. Differences in social position and power shape our identities, access to resources, and if, when, and how we can influence change, particularly within work structures and spaces.


Identity refers to characteristics we use to define ourselves and others. These are often constructed by the society, institutions, and systems in which we are embedded. These characteristics can include, but are not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender, sex, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, national origin, language, education level, ability and age. Identity impacts our power, our positionality, our relationship to land, space, people, and when, how and why we can influence change. We acknowledge that our various and intersecting identities play a significant role in how and when we can engage with one another and in our collective social justice work.


Intersectionality serves as a lens to identify where power collides and intersects and can be used as a framework to consider the intersection of identity and experiences of oppression. Intersectionality provides a reminder that there are multiple ways an individual can experience discrimination, oppression, and marginalization. We acknowledge that our social identities work on multiple levels, manifesting in unique and diverse experiences, opportunities and barriers for different people and groups.


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