Delivering Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at the University of Nottingham

EDI blog from Professor Sarah Sharples

This week we are publishing our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategic Delivery Plan. This marks an important step in the implementation of our work for EDI.

The first thing I would like to do is to say thank you for all of the work that has gone into the development of the plan. When I started in the PVC EDI role one year ago, one of the things that I very quickly became aware of was how much excellent work was already taking place in different parts of the University. Our new approach aims to harness this excellent work, providing a more joined-up approach, but still ensuring that different teams are able to initiate and lead activities that address the specific EDI challenges that are priorities in their own parts of the University. We have aimed to ensure that the plan reflects the views of the diverse range of people who participated in our consultation, as well as the input of a number of expert teams drawn from across the University. 

The four themes that form the core of the plan have been derived from our consultation, and aim to capture the breadth of activity that needs to take place to improve EDI for all. Whilst we have made many positive steps in improving communication and identifying gaps in our activities over the past year, we now need to have a strong focus on development, delivery and implementation. We will also be developing a clear framework for evaluating our interventions, ensuring that we use quantitative and qualitative data to understand what works well, and what we need to change. 

Support & Information

As part of our publication of the EDI strategic delivery plan, we have also revised our web pages at These will still link to the work that happens in different team and faculties around the University, but aim to provide a single portal through which material relating to EDI can be reached. We are very grateful to colleagues in HR, Student Services and the Campus Life teams in supporting the development of these pages, and we will be using this site as a portal for all information related to EDI moving forwards.

The Sphere Programme

A key element of the new EDI strategic delivery plan is the Sphere Programme. This is our change programme, and will be delivered alongside our routine governance of EDI. The Sphere Programme will be overseen by an independent programme board, chaired by Professor Raheela Khan with Dr. Amal Treacher Kabesh as her deputy. The board will advise on and oversee activities conducted within the Sphere programme, and will be responsible for allocation of project funds. Details of ways that staff and students within the University can apply for these funds will be confirmed within the next two months. We will also be inviting applications for membership of this Programme Board from the wider University student and staff community. 

As you will be aware, our University is very large and is distributed across many sites. The nature of our disciplines and ways of working is also very varied, and the solutions for delivering effective Equality, Diversity and Inclusion are different for different settings and people. Therefore we will be focusing on bringing those who lead EDI initiatives and activities together through our Sphere Leaders’ forums which will be held three times a year. 

The key to implementation of our EDI strategic delivery plan is to embed the activities in all that we do. This does not always mean doing new things; often it is about learning best practice from or sharing ideas and thoughts with others and changing the way that things are done. Therefore we will be inviting students and staff to sign up as ‘Sphere allies’, ensuring that they receive information about events and activities in support of EDI, and hearing about opportunities to apply for EDI-related funding.

The next few months will therefore be focussed on launching these activities, so please do sign up to be a Sphere Ally to ensure you are aware of all that is taking place. Alongside this, we will be publishing several blogs by members of our University community in the next few weeks – focusing on our events to support Black History Month, thinking about the meaning and impact of the EDI rainbow lanyards, and updating on work that we are doing to ensure that we have an appropriate culture and policy in place to address the important issue of sexual misconduct. We will also be updating on the recommendations from our review of support for disabled staff, and confirming our support for the staff networks as a result of the review led by Professor Felicity Rose.

We have made a lot of progress in the past year, but there is still much to do. The Strategic Delivery Plan represents a living document, as it is important to ensure that we continue to listen about the issues facing our students and staff, and adapt our priorities and responses as needed. I look forward to continuing to work with University staff and students on delivery of our ambitions around EDI.  


Professor Sarah Sharples
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

18 September 2019

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Trent Building
University Park Campus