Race Equality Charter success! The real journey starts here…

A couple of weeks ago we were delighted to hear the news that the recent University of Nottingham submission for the Bronze award for the Advance HE recognition of the Race Equality Charter (REC) had been successful.

The REC self-assessment-team were delighted by this news, and enormous thanks are due to the many people who were involved in supporting the preparation of our submission. This includes those in support teams who helped identify and analyse data; those who performed the work of identifying the actions which emerged from the staff and student data; those who ran and participated in our focus groups which explored some of the emergent issues in more detail; the student ambassadors who supported the student-focussed data analysis; all staff and students who responded to the REC questionnaire; colleagues who provided critical feedback on draft REC submissions; the BAME staff and student networks and representatives for proactive engagement and challenge; staff and students’ unions who provided additional input; and the many people on the REC self-assessment team (SAT) and beyond who worked behind the scenes to support communications, project management, proof reading, review of drafts, production of data tables, action plan analysis, and so much more.

The REC process represented an important and difficult process of understanding the real and systemic challenges that we face within our own institution and within wider society. Our analysis showed clear evidence of systemic and persistent racism experienced by our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff and student community. But it also helped us to identify actions to address these issues.

Our action plan is organised around five main themes. These themes were derived from the 2019 UUK report ‘Closing the Gap’ of: strong leadership; conversations about race and culture; racially diverse, inclusive environments; evidence and analysis; and ‘what works’.

Key, ambitious actions which are in this plan include:

• establishment of three new roles – one dedicated HR lead for BME recruitment and inclusion and two part-time secondment roles to support the development of a new onboarding module for all students, and to coordinate work across the university to close the degree awarding gap

  • delivery and evaluation of our new ‘report and support’ tool to improve our reporting and response to harassment
  • scaling up of our BAME reverse mentoring programme
  • introduction of new activities to align with our civic agenda and work with BAME communities in the city (the PACT (Partnership, Access, Cultures and Trust) Programme)
  • setting of targets for representation from different ethnic groups for staff and students for the university and local teams

We had already committed to delivering the REC institutional action plan, whether or not we were successful in gaining the Bronze recognition. We are delighted that Professor Todd Landman has agreed to take on the role of co-chair of the action plan implementation group. We are currently advertising for members of the REC implementation group, including a request for individuals to identify their interest in taking on the role of co-Chair.

Whilst we are of course pleased with the external recognition confirmed by the Bronze award, the real work starts here. Our submission showed that there are real and significant challenges around racism and inequality within the university that we need to address. We are confident that our action plan is ambitious and realistic, and can deliver the real change that is needed. But, as with the submission itself, the delivery of that change will need to be a team effort.

We have committed to the University of Nottingham being an anti-racist University. The university is, above all else, its people.  So we would like to end this blog with a request, to all students and staff in the university community, to please commit to action in support of our actions. If we all make small but significant changes in our delivery, in our communications, in our allyship, in critically analysing our processes, and in our behaviours, then we will deliver change.

Sarah Sharples and Stacy Johnson, REC co-chairs.
Monday 14 June 2021


Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Trent Building
University Park Campus