The University’s Equality and Inclusion Board (E&IB) have prioritised action on race, emphasising its importance as an essential part of University life. In February 2020, the E&IB approved a new Race Equality Framework, and commissioned the Equality & Inclusion Delivery Group (E&IDG) to develop a corresponding Race Equality Action Plan based on a number of agreed priority areas.
As part of this work, the University has signed up to the Business in the Community Race At Work Charter. This means that as an employer we have committed to taking practical steps to ensure we are tackling barriers that Black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) people face in the workplace. By signing the Race at Work Charter, the University has committed to five calls to action. You can read more about how we are addressing these below. We will communicate our progress back to the organisation on a regular basis.
1. Appoint an Executive Sponsor for race
The Vice–Chancellor is now the University’s Executive Sponsor for race, reinforcing the highest level of organisational commitment in this area. The role of Executive Sponsor will remain with the VC throughout a change in role holder, as Chair of the E&I Board. This role will provide visible leadership on race activity within the University and support the progression of our new Race Equality Action Plan. The VC recently explained why it’s important that we create an inclusive environment that meets the needs and aspirations of students and staff, in his Inside Track article.
2. Capture ethnicity data and publicise progress
We are conscious that there are a high proportion of staff whose ethnicity is not known to us, and that disclosure of this information has remained fairly stable over time. We have already used staff equality data to make positive changes at the University, for example, introducing staff equality networks, developing specific guidance, and using positive action in recruitment. We want to move towards 100% staff declaration of equality data in order to ensure that our policies, support and guidance are fit for purpose, as well as help to more accurately calculate any pay gaps and measure progress towards identified targets.
3. Commit at board level to zero tolerance of harassment and bullying
We know that despite mechanisms and policies already in place to report and address racial harassment and discrimination, there is work to be done to achieve our goal of creating a culture where all BAME staff feel safe, valued, and that they belong in every aspect of University life. The E&IB has approved the University’s new five-year E&I Framework, which adopts a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination and harassment. One of the priorities in our Race Equality Action Plan is to ensure we provide effective reporting mechanisms and feedback on actions taken following reports of racial harassment.
4. Make clear that supporting equality in the workplace is the responsibility of all leaders and managers
Our new E&I Framework acknowledges the inequalities in accessing education, opportunities, experiences and outcomes amongst students and staff, and commits us to addressing this. It also states that delivering a genuinely equal and inclusive environment is the responsibility of everyone at our University, including leaders and managers.
5. Take action that supports minority ethnic career progression
One of the priorities in our Race Equality Action Plan is supporting career development for BAME staff. We will refine a number of actions to address this, including the role of the Staff Review and Development Scheme (SRDS) in discussions about progression, broadening opportunities for BAME staff involvement in University committees and projects, embedding Equality Impact Assessments into business as usual, and reviewing career progression routes for research-only staff.
We have also explicitly adopted the five principles of AdvanceHE’s Race Equality Charter, through our Race Equality Framework and Action Plan.
The University is monitoring the position with regard to the Race Equality Charter (REC) run by AdvanceHE, who also operate the Athena SWAN charter for gender. AdvanceHE has indicated that it will review the REC following the completion of its response to a major review of the Athena SWAN charter which arose due to some concerns about the operation of that scheme. The completion of that review has been delayed by the COVID-19 situation delaying the review of the REC. The E&IB has decided to wait until the outcome of these reviews (which may see the merger of these schemes) before submitting formally to join the REC.
Tuesday 14th July 2020