A new year and a strong sense of belonging

Postgraduate students walking through the GSK Building Jubilee Campus - WEBEDI

Following my inaugural blog in May, I have had some very engaging and thought-provoking conversations with staff and students across the university about what bringing their authentic selves to work and study really means. An alternative way of articulating this would be that my aspiration as Pro-Vice Chancellor for Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and People is for all at the university to have a strong sense of belonging.  

The facets that contribute to a sense of belonging come in many forms. At our graduation ceremonies last month, it was wonderful to watch our students proudly walk across the stage as their names were read out and their supporters in the crowd cheered and clapped in celebration. As the academic procession lined up ahead of each ceremony, I was consistently paired with the designated name reader.

Chatting to them as we waited to enter the graduation hall, I was struck by the considerable amount of time and effort that each had dedicated to preparing so that all students had their names pronounced correctly. Why did they give over so much time to this? Probably because core to everyone’s sense of belonging is whether people know our name and pronounce it correctly.  

To that end, as our new cohort of students join us in the forthcoming weeks and new staff become part of our community at the university, I would encourage you to add an audio link to your email signature to show how to pronounce your name. There are several apps available online such as Name Drop  where it only takes a couple of minutes to record your name and create a corresponding link. My hope is that if we all commit to doing this and lead by example, we will take another small step towards creating a strong sense of belonging for all our staff and students. 

Since I joined the university in January of this year, I have been focusing on building cohesive teams and transparent governance structures to drive forward our key EDI priorities at pace. As I have mentioned previously, part of this work has included the introduction of thematic EDI institutional leads.

This has been accompanied by a refreshed governance and reporting system that allows key stakeholders and the wider university community to steer the direction of travel in the EDI space. Leading on from this my primary focus has been to determine, through consultation, what the key EDI priorities should be for the university for the 2022/23 academic year. 

The main EDI priorities for the university this year will be embedding inclusive recruitment into all areas of business and ensuring that the talents of all our colleagues are recognised and rewarded fairly and equitably. To drive diversification of the workforce and to address the leaky career pipeline, university key performance indicators have been set with regard to gender, ethnicity, and staff with disabilities.

Materials to help support more inclusive recruitment practices have been co-created by Louise Mullany, Professor of Sociolinguistics in conjunction with the Human Resources recruitment team. These resources will sit alongside new recruitment branding to attract a more diverse talent pool to all vacancies. 

To drive change in this area quickly will require a strong personal commitment from all staff who are involved in recruitment, reward, and recognition to reflect on their current practices and ensure they are being proactive in addressing any inequalities and biases that exist. I am convinced that if we create a diverse and valued workforce at the university, we will also see a significant shift in inclusive culture for all our staff and students.  

Each of our thematic areas, gender, race, disability, LGBTQIA+ and wellbeing also have key priority actions for the next academic year, and I look forward to sharing progress against these in my forthcoming EDI blogs

Professor Katherine Linehan 
How to say my name 
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and People
12 September 2022

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Trent Building
University Park Campus