September 17, 2018, by Simon Langley-Evans

University of Nottingham EDI Away Day

Over the summer I attended a University wide Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Away Day at UP so thought I would share some of what was covered and my thoughts going forward.

Professor Marion Walker was standing down as Associate PVC for EDI. Marion has been very positive about moving the University forward in relation to EDI issues and there has been huge progress while she has been in charge. You may have heard that Professor Sarah Sharples is taking over and has recently become the University’s first Pro Vice-Chancellor for EDI. The key difference in the role will be the University Executive Board position. Professor Sharples will have responsibility for driving EDI policy and initiatives across the University including tackling in the gender pay gap for staff and the attainment gap for our black and minority ethnic students amongst other things.

We had a presentation from Justine Wallis-Leggett, People and Culture Officer, about the structures in the University for equality. I won’t give you all the detail but the recent changes include more people working towards the Race Equality Charter (REC) Mark. Stacey Johnson from Health Sciences is leading on this. There will no doubt be a lot of information coming through about this but in the meantime we have new working groups and a Self Assessment Team (SAT) set up to get the work going.

Looking at the statistics on various aspects of equality was a bit mind blowing but it does help you to understand the equality objectives that the University is working towards. We also tend to look at some of these at a Faculty level (we have about 6 Faculty EDI meetings a year) to identify areas that are off target. Science is one of the Faculties where 100% of Schools hold an Athena Swan award and as we have more Schools than most (7) that reflects a lot of work that has been going on. However, there is still a lot to do and other areas of equality to work on

There is a pilot study going on to support staff with Specific Learning differences (SpLD) and some staff are involved with this. It is mostly to do with difference software and IT options that can be used. This project is due to complete in 2019 and hopefully will then make recommendations on what to offer to support staff.

We had a session on action planning to help staff identify ways to support change in relation to EDI issues. To be honest although this could have been really useful it would have been better to have School based EDI committees working on this rather than random groups of people all working in different areas.

I was grateful that Biosciences has done such a lot over recent years in relation to EDI so I could stand up and talk about a variety of initiatives such as the Redressing the Balance forums, the Women in Biosciences posters, the Behavioural Charter and this blog. No-one else in the Faculty put their hands up! So thank you everyone for giving me something to talk about.

The highlight of the day for me was listening to Sarah Stephenson-Hunter talking about their experiences. Sarah has recently won an award as the Stonewall LGBT Role Model (2018) for the East Midlands. Sarah has had many hurdles to overcome, including losing their sight, and managed to speak positively and very honestly about their journey whilst working at the University. I didn’t feel I could really convey what Sarah had said but they have kindly agreed to write a blog post so hopefully you can get a better understanding of how someone has overcome multiple challenges, remain positive and support others on a daily basis. Watch this space!

So altogether an interesting day with lots of information and ideas to take forward. The university is doing a lot and yes it has a way to go. It is however proactively getting on with it and we will be part of that.

Kirsten Whitehead
Chair Biosciences EDI Committee

Posted in EDI