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EIU November 2023 Newsletter


Fiona McClement, Director of EDI Dr Kendi Guantai, Dean of EDI and Associate Professor

A warm welcome to the new, relaunched EDI Newsletter.

In this regular newsletter, the Equality and Inclusion Unit will be sharing the breadth of activity happening across the University, and beyond, on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). This will include updates from the Staff Equity Networks, details of learning and development opportunities, and upcoming events.

The newsletter will spotlight good practice happening across the University, supporting our mission of researching better, teaching better, learning better and being better, as set out in the University’s EDI Implementation Plan.

If you would like to receive future editions of this newsletter directly to your inbox, please register below. Alternatively, current and previous editions will be published on the Equality and Inclusion Unit webpages.

Fiona McClement, Director of EDI
Dr Kendi Guantai, Dean of EDI and Associate Professor

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Launch of the EDI Implementation Plan

The institutional EDI Implementation Plan was launched in October; setting out the systems, infrastructure and support that the University will be prioritising on EDI for the next two years. This plan will help create more equitable outcomes for those who face ongoing structural and cultural barriers at the University.

Launch of the Race Equality Charter

Group shot from official launch of Race Equality Charter

In early October, the University’s involvement with Advance HE’s Race Equality Charter was launched, along with a new high-level, cross-institutional team to oversee the strategic activities that will further the path to the University of Leeds becoming a fully anti-racist organisation.

The celebratory launch event featured a keynote speech from Dr David W. Robinson-Morris, a US scholar and activist. The next steps for the Race Equality Charter institutional self-assessment team are to deep-dive and scrutinise data across all key aspects of the University’s functions and undertake widespread consultation and engagement with students and staff.

EDI and freedom of speech

Much of the public discourse recently on free speech in universities has centred towards EDI issues; for example, issues relating to antisemitism and Islamophobia or sex and gender identity. Debates currently being covered by the media and politicians connect to broader societal issues and concerns, including geopolitical events such as the conflict in Israel and Gaza. Levels of polarisation are deep and intense.

The challenge for the University of Leeds, as it is for the sector, is to uphold an environment where intellectual engagement with sensitive or controversial issues is enabled but discriminatory behaviour and harassment not tolerated. The sector is still waiting for the OfS consultation on how freedom of speech will be regulated under new legislation passed last Summer.

Supporting inclusivity and freedom of speech are not mutually exclusive, although it can be a challenging landscape for staff and students to navigate. The Equality and Inclusion Unit will be producing resources to support staff and students to understand frameworks and parameters. To contribute thoughts, ideas and insights to help inform these resources, please email:

Updates from across the University and beyond

Research Culture strategic plan 2023-2028 Launch

The Research Culture Strategic Plan was successfully launched at the Research Culture conference in September, with an audience of over a hundred colleagues who have been instrumental in shaping the strategy. It provides a 5-year action plan and rationale for improving the University’s research culture and achieving individual and collective goals for producing the best and most impactful research possible. It presents a roadmap for the co-creation and co-production of a new research culture that is inclusive, equitable, open, and supportive, with a diverse researcher community at its heart.

Find out more via Professor Cat Davies, Dean for Research Culture’s recent Inside Track.

Access and student success strategy progress

The University is on track to meet 12 out of 14 targets in the Access and Student Strategy. A whole-institutional endeavour is leading to improved outcomes in diversifying our student cohort, increasing belonging and wellness and thus enhancing student success. Core to this progress has been understanding students beyond a single demographic, identity or label.

Louise Banahene, Director of Educational Engagement, discusses next steps and how colleagues can get involved in her Inside Track article.

Sign up to the student success mailing list

Centre for Disability Studies – Disability Studies Conference 2024: Save the Date

The Centre for Disability Studies is launching a new biennial Disability Studies Conference that creates a space where researchers, practitioners, policymakers and activists from around the world come together to share and debate research, ideas, and developments in disability studies. The next Disability Studies conference will take place from 3rd to 5th September 2024 at the University of Leeds. The Centre is running a survey to scope interest and to inform planning. To find out more, please join the conference mailing list by emailing:

Royal Society pilots Career Development Fellowship

A new Royal Society scheme to kickstart the independent research careers of researchers from groups underrepresented in UK STEM academia has recently been launched.

The Royal Society Career Development Fellowship will initially run as a pilot with researchers from Black heritage backgrounds with applications opening in November. The University is keen to support applications for the Fellowship. Interested and eligible researchers should contact Research and Innovation (RIS) at: Resources for supporting fellowship applications generally can also be obtained via contacting RIS.

Alum Baroness Sayeeda Warsi lecture on Islamophobia

In October, University of Leeds alum Baroness Sayeeda Warsi delivered a guest lecture titled ‘‘Muslims Don’t Matter’ - Islamophobia and the silencing, sanctioning, and stereotyping of British Muslims’ which can now be viewed on YouTube.

Over a decade after her famous "Islamophobia has passed the dinner table test" speech, Baroness Warsi addressed the unfolding policies of successive governments and their impact on British Muslims, underscoring the necessity for Britain to remain true to its core values of equality and inclusiveness.

Celebrating University of Leeds role models

A warm and heartfelt congratulations to one of the University’s newest professors, Professor Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso from the School of Biology. Yoselin is a co-founder of the Black in Plant Science network.

Professor Lisa-Dionne Morris from the School of Mechanical Engineering, another trail-blazing professor has recently launched a global Black Female Academics network.

Professor Yasmin Hussain from the School of Sociology and Social Policy has also recently been promoted and has been leading important research within her faculty on the experiences of those from racially minoritised backgrounds.

Staff Equity Networks Updates

LGBT+ Staff Network – A call for guest speakers

The LGBT+ Staff Network is planning to showcase examples of active research from across the University on LGBT+-focused or associated themes, as part of its programme for LGBT+ History Month in February 2024. The Network is inviting early expressions of interest from colleagues who would like to participate. Please fill in the call-out form to register your interest in speaking.

Leeds Accessibility Staff Network – The new network for disabled colleagues

The university’s disability-related staff networks have recently merged and relaunched under a new umbrella group - Leeds Accessibility Staff Network: Disabilities, Chronic Conditions and Mental Health (LASN). To join, please complete the Joining and Subgroup Request form on the Leeds Accessibility Staff Network page.

Network for Minoritised Ethnic Staff

Leeds 11 has recently been relaunched as the Network for Minoritised Ethnic Staff. To join this network please email: Chair Brenda Phillips at

Women at Leeds Network

The Women at Leeds Network has developed its annual calendar of events open to its membership.

The Women at Leeds staff network is open to all staff and postgraduate researchers. Details on how to join the network and take part in these network events can be found on the Network’s webpage.

EDI Resources and Learning and Development

Learning and development is a key workstream in the University’s EDI Implementation Plan. A learning needs analysis has recently been shared with faculties and services and will lead to the development of a refreshed EDI offer informed by knowledge gaps identified by staff. Please find below a selection of existing resources:

University of Leeds staff and students have access to the Union Black: Britain’s Black cultures and steps to anti-racism. This short, online self-paced course designed to take around 8 hours explores Black British history, cultures and steps individuals can take towards anti-racism.

Register for Union Black


Installation shots of ‘Contested Bodies’, The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery. Image courtesy of Leeds University Library Galleries

Exhibition: Contested Bodies October 2023 – April 2024. The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds.

'Contested Bodies' brings together the work of over 40 artists from across the gender spectrum who use the human body as a medium or as a subject matter. The exhibition interrogates and celebrates the performativity of gender as a social construct. In their respective practices, some of the artists explore gender stereotypes, self-representation or shapeshifting through fashion. Others address notions of race, class, objectification, pleasure or desire.

Co-curator Dr Laura Claveria has commented:

“The University of Leeds prides itself in placing equity, diversity and inclusion at its core, and aims to create a supportive environment that is reflective of its community….

“We really hope that this exhibition helps to open up meaningful and nuanced conversations and bring people together to celebrate the fluid, hybrid and complex gender subjectivities of our society today.”

Menopause events

Bookings are open for the 2023-24 programme of Menopause in the Workplace sessions, Meno-Pause for Thought Cafés and Menopause Toolkit workshops.

Menopause guidance - updated menopause guidance is available for staff and students via the wellbeing website. The latest information includes guidance for individuals and guidance for managers.

PGR Workshop on Queer/Crip/Disability Studies
15 November

The Centre for Disability Studies and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies invite PGRs to a workshop on Queer/Crip/Disability Studies. The event will discuss the methodological and theoretical challenges of working on the intersection of these two fields of inquiry. The workshop will hosted by Dr Carlos Halaburda from the Universität zu Köln. Find out more and enrol via the workshop webpage.

November 2023 Religious Observance and Awareness Dates

For a more complete list of Awareness Dates please visit the Equality and Inclusion Unit webpages.


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