Forbes this week listed UCF in the top 25 of its 2021 list of America’s Best Employers for Diversity.

The university, ranked at No. 25, was the only Florida-ranked employer in the top tier. The total Forbes list of 500 employers is based on employee responses, proactive diversity initiatives and other inclusion factors.

“To be ranked in the top 25 speaks volumes to our commitment,” says S. Kent Butler, interim chief Equity, Inclusion and Diversity officer. “Our leaders recognize the need to diversify and have not only made it an agenda item to just discuss, but they also made it a part of their action plans and went about the business of hiring. We have a long way to go, but we are closer to that No. 1 spot then we ever were.”

Butler says the university is taking measures to ensure hiring a diverse workforce that mirrors the student body.

“To see our numbers growing is a positive change and it is encouraging to see that our diversity efforts are being recognized and applauded on a national level,” he says.

Several UCF initiatives were announced last summer, from establishing new hiring practices and advisory boards to making additions in the university’s budget and strategic plan. President Alexander N. Cartwright said the university is reallocating 3 percent of each college’s and division’s budget to create a new Strategic Investment Fund, focused partly on providing an inclusive culture through the university.

Leaders from UCF’s human resources, institutional equity and faculty excellence also are working to increase best practices for job searches, including training on diversifying recruitment and requiring specific training for everyone who serves on a search committee.

At the start of this academic year, the total faculty and staff breakdown was: 51.6% white, 18.7% Hispanic, 10% Black, 9.3% international, and 7.9% Asian. Some other ethnicities are represented by smaller percentages.

Forbes says thousands of companies and institutions were considered for its fourth annual list. The company interviewed about 50,000 employees from organizations of at least 1,000 employees.

“As we build upon this momentum,” Butler says, “we must continue to break down the systemic barriers that often place into jeopardy our commitment to equity and inclusion and our ability to retain the excellent talent we have recruited to our campus.”