The focus for our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion work during March has had two key areas– firstly, the celebration of our women staff and students as part of International Women’s Day (IWD), and secondly the conclusion of the consultation period for our EDI strategic delivery plan. I am extremely grateful for the engagement of colleagues in both of these activities.
Our IWD activities included student-led events, staff network events, our joint activity with Nottingham Trent University, a stand-up comedy night featuring some of our women staff and students, an inaugural lecture from one of our newly appointed woman professors, and a month long digital campaign celebrating Inspirational Women. This attracted over 140 nominations of women from all parts of our three University campuses, who all had in common that they had inspired someone somehow. It has been lovely to follow these nominations via our twitter feed, and the reasons given for nominations have been truly inspiring, reminding us of how many people work so hard to contribute to our University community. This digital campaign also reminds us how powerful it can be to say ‘thank you’, and to remind someone that they have done a brilliant job.
We have also had a really constructive and positive response to the EDI strategic delivery plan. Through our online and face-to-face consultations we have heard from over 350 people, and we will continue to listen as we develop the plan into a living document which we continually review and develop. There have been some really constructive challenges around some of the issues highlighted in the document, and I’m very appreciative of how much effort people have put into composing thoughtful responses – we will incorporate these into the revised version of the plan which we hope to have completed in the next couple of months, for full implementation from this summer.
One of the main tenets of the Strategic Delivery Plan is the notion of ‘enabling’ – ensuring that those responsible for considering Equality, Diversity and Inclusion matters on a day to day basis have the guidance and support to help them. One group of people who encounter such issues are those who act as personal tutors to our students. Our Campus Life team has been working alongside the Students’ Union to develop an EDI guide for Personal Tutors. This has been written to provide a set of signposts for tutors who wish to provide their tutees with protected characteristics with the best support that they can, as well as ensuring that their tutees are aware of the specialist teams available to support their individual needs. One of the issues that has been raised to us during the consultation is that people are worried about dealing with sensitive issues for fear of ‘saying the wrong thing’ – the EDI guide aims to provide some help here, giving a brief context for some of the most commonly encountered issues, and providing links for those who wish to explore things in more depth.
We hope that this tool provides some real practical support for colleagues, and welcome feedback on this approach, as well as ideas for where further guidance and information would be of benefit.
Professor Sarah Sharples
Pro Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
19 March 2019