As I settle into the role of PVC for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, I am discovering just how much work people around the University do in support of EDI for our staff and students. Much of this work has been ‘under the radar,’ mainly because we have perhaps not viewed EDI as being part of our core business. As a University, we need to change that view, and not only ensure that we all incorporate considerations of EDI in all that we do, but also celebrate those who lead and inspire us in our support of EDI.
I want to use this blog to highlight two outstanding examples of this type of activity amongst our University staff, and call for your ideas on how we can celebrate EDI in our community.
The first is the long-standing work of Dr June McCombie. Not only has June played a pioneering role in her work as the chair of the Project Juno activity for the Institute of Physics from 2008 to 2012 - see here for a really nice illustration of this work - but she is now also chair of Nottingham Women's Centre - a fantastic organisation that our Women’s Network regularly supports.
The second is the appointment of Dr Karen Salt in September as the Deputy Chair of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) external Advisory Group for equality, diversity and inclusion. This is a significant step for UKRI, the new body that oversees investment in research and innovation for all disciplines, and the Advisory Group will be instrumental in shaping UKRI’s development of an ambitious, long-term strategy for equality, diversity and inclusion in research activities. We should all congratulate Karen on having been appointed to this prestigious and influential role.
Karen already directs the Centre for Research in Race and Rights within the School of Culture, Language and Area Studies, and in her UKRI role will be commissioning of reviews into EDI challenges and interventions, as well as work to gather evidence around bullying and harassment.
We are extremely fortunate to have individuals like Karen and June working with us and need to ensure that we are able to support and celebrate their work along with that of many others who take on similar types of work. I would be delighted to hear through my mailbox firstname.lastname@example.org from staff and students who take part in activities to further our understanding of EDI, and deliver schemes that have real impact.
I have been continuing to meet with many staff and student colleagues to hear more about the challenges that we face, and begin plans to develop the first draft of the EDI strategic delivery plan, which will be circulated for full consultation and comment in the New Year. Whilst many of these conversations and messages I have received through the email address email@example.com have been positive, there have been issues raised which are of concern.
As the Vice-Chancellor mentioned in her blog last week, some of these are around the topics of bullying and harassment. A core tenet of EDI is that all should feel safe and comfortable in their place of study or work. As a result, we will now be working together with staff representatives to build on the work that is taking place to review the roles of dignity advisors and continue work with the sexual misconduct task and finish group, to identify how we can address any behavioural and systemic issues around bullying and harassment.
For our own part, the EDI Committee has adopted some guidelines to support the discussions which take place in our meetings to ensure that all members are able to contribute and that debate is conducted in an inclusive and respectful manner. We have published them on the EDI webpages to enable colleagues within the University to adopt these where they wish.
In the spirit of celebration and awareness raising, in addition to the ongoing preparations for Disability December and LGBTQ history month in February, we are beginning to plan for International Women’s Day on March 8th 2019. This month, the theme for 2019 was announced as #balanceforbetter.
As part of the University’s commemoration of International Women’s Day, we will again be holding a joint event with Nottingham Trent University, which we hope will engage a broad range of our students and staff. We also have early plans to work with our colleagues in Malaysia and Ningbo to have a tri-campus element to the day.
I know that our staff and students run many fantastic initiatives locally within their local groups and teams, and we want to hear about them all so that we can publicise and celebrate them with you.
If you are planning to hold any type of activity in support of International Women’s Day 2019, please let Julie Thomas know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Through events like these, the outstanding work of ambassadors like June and Karen, and alongside our collaborative work on dealing with some of the difficult issues we face in supporting EDI, we can really make a difference.
Professor Sarah Sharples
Pro Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
21 November 2018
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