The importance of securing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) for everyone in our staff and student community could not be more important at this time. The last month has seen major publications in this area, including a report by the 1752 Group on sexual misconduct, views from Higher Education institutions on the Race Equality Charter, advice on how to build engagement with research for BME communities, and Advance HE’s latest statistics on diversity in staff and students.
Together, these reports show us not simply how we can improve practice across the university sector, but also the value and importance of doing so. Delivering equality, diversity and inclusion across our University is not simply a good thing of itself, although that should not be underestimated. Good EDI practice creates stronger communities, more effective workforces, and greater ideas and opportunities for our staff and our students – today and for the generations to come.
In my first few weeks in role, I have already learned about some excellent EDI practice here at Nottingham. As a result of the hard work of many colleagues led by Professor Marion Walker, today I am delighted to announce that the University has secured Silver in the Athena SWAN awards which promote gender equality in higher education. I am also publishing the University’s new guide to Diversity in Recruitment that will help us to build on this fantastic achievement in recruiting an increasingly diverse workforce.
I have been truly really impressed by the quality of all of the activities that have taken place, from short-term working groups looking at specific staff and student communities, to initiatives which develop training or to increase the diversity within our student curriculum.
However, it is clear that because there has not been an overarching EDI portfolio for staff and students, some of these activities have become "lost". We have not taken the opportunity to share good practice, or to ensure that these small group activities inform our practice across the University.
Over the next few months, I will be inviting staff and students to help me to shape our EDI strategic delivery plan, which will continue our journey towards excellence in equality. It will be informed by two themes: to ensure that Nottingham is recognised by everyone as a diverse, inclusive and supportive environment; and to ensure that we are providing equality of experience for all.
There are many challenges: the gender pay gap in our staff community; the attainment gap for our black and minority ethnic students; recruiting a more diverse workforce; or tackling bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct for staff and students.
Rising to these challenges means we need to recognise that we all start from different perspectives, influenced by different types of experience and levels of privilege. It follows that considering the diverse needs and the different characteristics of our community means that achieving equality of experience will not be delivered by the same solution working for all.
However, it will take all of us in our community to deliver the solutions and I am delighted that so many colleagues have volunteered to join the new UEB Committee for Equality, Diversity & Inclusion. There will be more opportunities to support some critical EDI task and finish activities over the coming months.
I will be establishing a dedicated webpage so that you can keep up to date with our latest activity to bring together our EDI activity within a strategic delivery plan. I have also set up an email address email@example.com so that individual staff and students can contact me in complete confidence to raise any specific issues that they may have encountered or think it would be helpful to reflect in our new strategy.
I look forward to working with you all in this essential endeavour.
Professor Sarah Sharples
Pro Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
17 October 2018
Email your feedback to the Pro Vice-Chancellor