Social Report of RU 2018

The role of Reykjavik University is to create and disseminate knowledge to improve competitiveness and quality of life for individuals and society society, guided by good ethics, sustainability and responsibility.

The strategy of RU is to be a strong teaching and research university with an emphasis on technology, business, and law.

The core activities of Reykjavik University are teaching and research with strong ties with industry and society, emphasising interdisciplinary work, international context, innovation and service excellence. The RU culture is crafted by personal relations and respect for society and the environment. RU has four Schools: School of Science and Engineering, School of Computer Science, School of Business and School of Law. Internationally recognised research is carried out in the Schools, as well as teaching in undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programmes. Students can also pursue preparatory studies for university programmes called the RU Pre-University Programme (Háskólagrunnur HR). The RU Open University offers a range of longer and shorter courses for people from the business community, which they can pursue alongside their professional careers.

Responsible future leaders

RU participates in the PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education) initiative of the United Nations, which is part of the Global Compact programme, together with approximately 650 universities from all over the world. In 2013, the RU School of Business implemented the six PRME principles. 

The six principles involve that the university community commits to the education and training of future leaders, whose guiding principle in decision making is social responsibility:

  1. We will develop the capabilities of students to be future generators of sustainable value for business and society at large and to work for an inclusive and sustainable global economy.
  2. We will incorporate into our academic activities, curricula, and organisational practices the values of global social responsibility as portrayed in international initiatives such as the United Nations Global Compact.
  3. We will create educational frameworks, materials, processes and environments that enable effective learning experiences for responsible leadership.
  4. We will engage in conceptual and empirical research that advances our understanding about the role, dynamics, and impact of corporations in the creation of sustainable social, environmental and economic value.
  5. We will interact with managers of business corporations to extend our knowledge of their challenges in meeting social and environmental responsibilities and to explore jointly effective approaches to meeting these challenges.
  6. We will facilitate and support dialog and debate among educators, students, business, government, consumers, media, civil society organisations and other interested groups and stakeholders on critical issues related to global social responsibility and sustainability.
Reykjavik University has published two PRME progress reports, one in 2014 and another in 2016, both of which received awards. In 2017, a decision was made to implement the PRME principles across all the Schools of the University. The reason being that responsible management not only concerns those educated in business administration and related disciplines, future leaders come from all fields of study.

Socially responsible students

Student associations within Reykjavik University organise events and happenings related to environmental affairs, social responsibility and sustainability. A charity committee operates within the RU Student Assocciation (SFHR) and students also operate an association titled Birta, which is an association for social responsibility and sustainability. Birta organises, for example, events that promote awareness of environmental affairs and social responsibility, including the Environment Week and Transport Week of RU. Furthermore, students operate the Associaton for Equality, a representative of which serves on the RU Equality Board. Lögrétta, the association of law students, offers legal consultation free of charge to the public, as well as assistance in completing a tax return. For the past two years, an emphasis has been placed on environmental affairs, social responsibility and sustainability in a cross-disciplinary three-week course titled Entrepreneurship and Starting New Ventures, which nearly all RU students complete in their first year. A special award is given to the student group that places the most emphasis on sustainability in its project.

Equality at Reykjavik University

New Equality Programme of RU

The new Equality Programme of Reykjavik University was approved and published in the Equality days of 2018. It is the Equality Board of RU that prepared the new Programme and its main topics relate to wages and employment terms, hirings, advancement, coordination of work and family life, and definitions and rules regarding gender-based violence and sexual harassment. The Programme is much more detailed than the prior Equality Programme; everything stipulated in the Programme is activity-based and responsibility is clear. The new Equality Programme addresses equality in the internal operations of the University. This means that more attention is given to who teaches compulsory courses and problem-solving classes and attends to assistance teaching. The Programme also stipulates that in student admission, care will be taken as much as possible to admit more individuals of the gender which is in the minority. The new Programme does not refer to men and women; instead it states that rights and processes are irrespective of gender, that is, non-binary.

The Programme stipulates, for example, that an appraisal of wages shall be carried out at least every three years. Every year, a summary of appointments to administrative positions shall be published in the Annual Equality Report, and furthermore, every year, statistics shall be compiled and published regarding, for example, gender balance, nationality and age distribution of employees. The results shall be published for the University as a whole, each School, academic positions, administrative positions and the main committees and councils. The Equality

Here can be found The RU Equality Programme

First among Icelandic universities to receive equal pay certification

In 2018, work took place on preparing for an equal pay certification. Originally, the plan was for the largest companies with 250 or more employees to complete the process before the end of year 2018. Even though the deadline was extended by one year, the University decided to keep to the prior schedule and has now received confirmation that the equal pay system of the University fulfills the requirements of the equal pay standard ÍST 85:2012. Two appraisals of the equal pay system were carried out by representatives of BSI in Iceland, which is a certified inspection agency in Iceland and a representative of BSI-group (British Standards Institution). RU will formally receive an equal pay certificate from BSI at the end of March 2019 and thereby is granted equal pay certification and consequently permission to use the equal pay certification badge from the Centre for Gender Equality and the Ministry of Welfare.

Girls and Technology

The “Girls and Technology” day is held annually by Reykjavik University in cooperation with SI - Federation of Icelandic Industries and SKÝ. In 2018, it was also held in collaboration with the action group of the government and social partners on wage equality. The purpose is to introduce possibilities in technology studies and work to girls in the ninth grade of primary school and open their eyes to the future possibilities offered by technology fields. The model for the event is the Girls in ICT Day, that is held all over the world by ITU (International Telecommunication Union), an organisation for information and communication technology within the United Nations. Girls in the ninth grade of primary school got an opportunity to tackle fun projects in workshops at RU and visit the main technology companies of the country and meet with female role models in the field. The event has been very well sought and around 700 girls participated in 2018. /sys/tur is an association of women in computer science within RU that was established with the aim of increasing the number of women in the field. /sys/tur actively participates in introducing the studies to girls and women and is, for example, joined by women in the business community who speak about their own work.

Education on sexual harassment, gender-based harassment and violence

At the start of 2018, Human Resources organised education for employees and administrators at RU concerning sexual harassment, gender-based harassment and violence. The education took place in cooperation with the psychological clinic Líf og sál. The topics of discussion were behaviour in the workplace, bullying, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, violence, manifestations, prevention, and role of co-workers and administrators. More than 80% of permanent employees attended the courses.

A #metoo men's group was established which invited male employees at RU to a seminar. The purpose of the seminar was education and discussion on gender-based harassment and related issues.

Times Higher Education published a list of the universities in the world, that have the most positive impact on their community, based on the sustainability goals of the United Nations. Reykjavik University was in 101st–200th place on the 2019 list. RU receives a particularly good grade for the fifth sustainability goal, Gender Equality, which relates to ensuring equality of the genders and strengthening the position of women and girls. Here, RU is in 59th place. RU also receives a very good grade for the fourth sustainability goal, Quality Education, which relates to ensuring quality education without discrimination with equality as a guiding principle and creating opportunities for continuing education for everyone. Here, RU is in 86th place.
In preparing the list, consideration is, for example, given to the effects of universities on economic growth, industry, development of infrastructure, responses to climate change, etc.

The results in their entirety can be viewed on the website of Times Higher Education .

Environmental affairs at Reykjavik University

Reykjavik University signed an agreement with the City of Reykjavik at the end of 2015 in regard to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Following this, an environment group was put together, which has operated since 2016. Among the group's projects are work on reducing plastic use, for example, by removing plastic cups by water and coffee machines in all kitchens at RU. The environment group has also encouraged people to be more disciplined in their garbage sorting; more detailed and better labelling has been taken into use, as well as instructions and education that encourage sorting. Trash bins were removed from all offices and now only sorting bins are used. The number of bins for organic waste has been increased.

RU has had a Transport Strategy and has awarded transport grants to employees since 2016. The grants were recently increased to further strengthen the motivation to use environmentally friendly transport. Reykjavik University has also received gold certification from Cycling Iceland (Hjólafærni) and the National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland (ÍSÍ) for being a cycle-friendly workplace. Every year, RU participates in the initiative Cycling to Work (Hjólað í vinnuna) and offers its employees a condition inspection for their bicycles.

RU was the first to offer the car sharing service Zipcar in Iceland in 2018. On the agenda for 2019 is to set up charging stations by 12 parking spaces and offer students and employees two-hour charging at no cost. Also on the agenda for 2019 is to build a bicycle shelter on the premises of the University and thus provide students with better facilities for bicycles. The environment group is also working on reviewing and updating the Environmental Strategy of RU .

RU Code of Ethics and Ethics Committee

Reykjavik University has not adopted a human rights strategy but its Human Resource Strategy , Equality Programme , Code of Ethics and other strategy documents cover those aspects that relate to human rights, for example, as regards students with disabilities . An Ethics Committee operates at RU in accordance with the University's Code of Ethics . Reykjavik University is a knowledge community where students, teachers and other employees work together on the acquisition, innovation and dissemination of knowledge. Such a community requires all its members to take moral responsibility for their actions. In order to facilitate this, the University wishes to create a work environment where communication and activities are characterised by respect, integrity, fairness and equality. The objective of the Code of Ethics of Reykjavik University is to ensure that the conduct of all those who work within the University meets the strictest moral requirements that can be made within an establishment of its kind.

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