Recent Activities, November 2020

The University’s Equality and Inclusion Board (E&IB) and Delivery Group (E&IDG) have met recently and considered a number of issues, some of which are detailed below. There has also been a report from Universities UK on ‘tackling racial harassment in higher education’ released this week to which the University will respond as we implement our own Race Equality Framework through the corresponding action plan.

UUK report

UUK released its report into racial harassment in HE on 24th November, supported by a set of case studies. The report included 11 recommendations made to HE institutions.

The University welcomes this report and has set up a small working group comprising members of the Equality Policy Unit, the Leeds11 staff network (which represents BAME staff) and the Muslim staff network. This groups aims to (i) consider these recommendations, (ii) identify those which are already covered (or can be covered) through our previously agreed Race Equality Framework and associated action plan, and (iii) embrace the opportunity to identify any further gaps requiring action. This working group will also prepare the initial submission for the University to the Race at Work Charter survey.

The University’s Race Equality Framework, agreed in February 2020, and the associated action plan, approved in June 2020, include the following points,

  • The VC is providing clear senior leadership as Executive Sponsor of our Race Equality Framework and action plan
  • The University of Leeds has made a clear, public statement recognising that racism and racial discrimination have been part of the student and staff experience to date and committing to address these through a strong anti-racism approach
  • We are engaging strongly with our staff and student bodies through relevant staff networks and the LUU liberation coordinators – we have run several events so far this session to build communication, engagement and trust
  • We have signed up to Race at Work charter and adopted it’s 5 ‘calls to action’ allowing us to benchmark ourselves and gain ‘best practice’ advice from a wide range of institutions and sectors
  • We have also adopted the 5 principles of the Advance HE Race Equality Charter
  • We have identified 10 priority areas with specific targets
  • We are progressing a project to review our systems and processes for reporting racial and other forms of discrimination, bullying and harassment
  • Several actions are embedded explicitly in our new Access and Student Success Strategy, including those relating to student experience such as addressing the awarding gaps, decolonising the curriculum and supporting increased progression of BAME students to PGT, PGR and PDRA roles
  • We have introduced a ‘reverse mentoring’ scheme for our University Executive Group
  • We are leading an EPSRC-funded shared-characteristics mentoring project and have introduced this into our own institutional mentoring programme
  • We have set targets for increasing BAME representation amongst staff population (17%) and particularly amongst senior academic leadership roles (10% BAME Professors)

Further detail on the above is available on the EPU webpages.

Related ongoing work includes discussions with representatives from LUU relating to the consideration of appropriate language, particularly the term ‘BAME’, as well as plans to work more closely with colleagues to listen to and incorporate the staff/student voice and lived experience through our work.

Of course, this work needs translating into (completed) actions but there are colleagues and students from across the University working collaboratively towards this, although ultimately every area of the University and every individual needs to play their part for this to be successful.

Disability and LGBT+ Equality Frameworks

The Equality Policy Unit is currently consulting on the draft versions of the University’s Disability and LGBT+ Equality Frameworks. These frameworks follow the structure set out in our overall institutional Equality & Inclusion Framework 2020-25 with 5 themes: culture, staff and the working environment, students and student education, research and innovation, and infrastructure. The documents have been discussed at the E&IDG and the overall approach endorsed by E&IB. The formal consultations are now engaging with a wider range of stakeholders including trades unions, staff networks, LUU, Wellbeing, Safety & Health, Disability Services, Facilities Directorate, Education Engagement, Leeds Doctoral College and the Communications Team.

Alongside these frameworks, the corresponding action plans are also being developed, which will include SMART actions, prioritised to meet the needs of the institution.

It is expected that the Disability Framework will be brought to the February meeting of E&IB for discussion and approval.

Communications

E&IDG has been considering how it can more effectively communicate the activity relating to equality and inclusion across the institution. A working group has been established under the lead of Gillian Neild who leads on communications within the E&IDG.

This is in addition to the publication of notes from the E&IDG meetings on the Equality Policy Unit webpages.

More generally, updates from the work of the Equality Policy Unit can be found on our new ‘Blog’ page.

Athena SWAN

The institutional Athena SWAN (AS) submission is due in early December and is being led by Professor Louise Bryant (Institutional lead for the Leeds Gender Framework) working with the Institutional Self-Assessment Team (ISAT). A draft version of the AS action plan was considered by the University Executive Group and given in principle approval, subject to finalisation of details particularly with regard to targets and time scales.

New Equality and Inclusion Officers

Two new Equality and Inclusion Officers are due to join the Equality Policy Unit in December, to work alongside the existing Officer. The new Officers will progress work in the areas of Race, LGBT+ and Gender.