Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)
The School of Law is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion. We are an international community of staff and students and this is one of our greatest strengths.
As of 1 March 2021, our staff is composed of 53.9% women and 46.1% men, 5.3% women and 6.6% men who identify as BME and our staff is from 20 countries in addition to the UK. Less than 5% of staff identifies as disabled.
In 2019/2020, our student body comprised 59% female and 41% male undergraduate students, 63% female and 37% male postgraduate taught students and 60.5% female and 40.5% male postgraduate researchers.
In the undergraduate cohort, there were 38% BME and 52% white and 10% not known, in the PGT cohort 45% BME and 31% white and 24% not known and in the PGR cohort, 20% BME, 63% white and 16% not known. In terms of disabilities, amongst the three cohorts there was roughly 90% non-disabled and 10% disabled students.
The school prevents discrimination on all grounds prohibited by the Equality Act 2010 as well as nationality, socio-economic background, temporary impairment, neurodiversity and those with caring responsibilities. Our active school Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee (SEDIC), on which both staff and students are represented, seeks to further equality, promote equal opportunities and create an inclusive environment touching on all aspects of the life and activities of the School of Law.
The school was proud to achieve an Athena SWAN Bronze Award in November 2019 and we have started to implement our Athena SWAN action plan. Our activities align with the University's Strategic Delivery Plan for EDI.
More recently, Covid-19 has exposed many disparities including racial, socio-economic disability-related and gender-related disparities. The University has issued guidance/support relating to hate crimes linked to the coronavirus and there are also formal channels if someone wishes to report harassment, be they hate crimes or not. The faculty is already also taking some actions aimed to support women during the pandemic and its aftermath.
Whilst the school has already taken and will carry on taking actions in relation to EDI generally, we recognise that structural problems persist within the university sector and within our school and we are constantly learning and striving to improve as an inclusive community.
Black Lives Matter
The school has heard from both staff and students about the deep hurt that has been brought to the surface for Black members of the school by the outburst of police brutality against African-Americans in the US following George Floyd’s death and the events in its aftermath. More widespread structural racism continues to exist, not only in the US, but in British society and its institutions, including in education and our own University. The Vice Chancellor and the Pro Vice Chancellor for Equality Diversity and Inclusion have written about what the University is doing and is planning to do in this regard in response to an open letter by the University’s Black students societies.
As a school, we have always believed that everyone is equal before the law and that we should always treat everyone without discrimination on grounds of race. This is not sufficient. There are structural, systemic and institutional inequalities that need to be addressed.
Going forward, the school commits to think more systematically about ways to make our school more inclusive and supportive for Black students and staff, and ways that we can disrupt patterns of inequality. In an open letter to the University sent in early June 2020, the presidents of all majority Black student societies on campus highlighted the need to do more to address race inequality at the University. We will work with the University and the Faculty to develop and implement the University’s Race Equality Charter. In particular, staff are encouraged and supported to participate in the University's reverse mentoring scheme, a second call will be launched in late June/July 2021. We will engage directly with our staff and students to improve all our practices.
In particular, we will regularise UK minority ethnic and global majority ethnic presence in the curriculum (in particular we will liaise with the Decolonising Network launched in January 2021) and implement those actions of the University’s action plan on Black Lives Matter which we can implement at school level. Our Introduction to Law and Legal Theory module in year one already includes a seminar devoted to policing and race, reflecting on the origins of the BLM movement, and with a focus on crime and stop and search. In addition, the school commits to enhance the visibility of positive role models and increase the opportunities available for Black students and staff to thrive within our community.
As part of our Athena SWAN commitments, we are already making better use of data to understand and remedy the attainment gaps of Black and other minority ethnic students. Our goal remains to make sure that all staff and students can feel equally at home in the School of Law and can develop their full potential. Racism has no place in our school.
There are a number of recommended readings and resources on issues relating to the Black community.
The school and its EDI Committee (SEDIC)
SEDIC is composed of:
- Professor Estelle Derclaye and Professor Anna la Chimia, co-directors of EDI, chairs or SEDIC
- Professor Olympia Bekou (Head of School)
- Professor Peter Bartlett
- Professor David Fraser
- Dr Tim Masiko
- Dr Klara Polackova van der Ploeg
- Dr Sanam Saidova
- Dr Orsolya Toth
- Dr Qianlian Wu
- Louise Savage, Operations Manager
- One student representing each cohort of students: undergraduate, postgraduate (masters) and doctoral