Message from Professor Jo Duberley, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion)
Many of you have been in touch with the University by email or social media over the last week in relation to Black Lives Matter and specifically to ask what we as a University community are doing to support race equality.
I thought it might be helpful to set out action we are taking to promote race equality as well as acknowledging the real challenges we still face to improve the experience and outcomes for our Black and ethnic minority students and to diversify our staff community; unlocking opportunities in recruitment, promotion and excellence.
Recently we have submitted an application for the Race Equality Charter (REC) which includes a substantial action plan, with challenging targets: to tackle racial literacy; enhance inclusive practice in teaching and learning; improve access for students from BAME backgrounds and reduce the BAME attainment gap; actions to diversify curriculum content and library collections; improve BAME staff representation within the organisation, and embed equality in our structures and governance.
This is significant work, and most importantly, our actions were established through our largest ever consultative exercise with more than 5000 staff and students having conversations about race throughout 2018 and 2019. This is ongoing work and we are engaged with students through our Guild of Students and with staff through our BAME staff network. This work is a priority and the REC action plan does not sit in isolation. Our actions are aligned with the University’s overall strategic vision and with the priorities set out in our Access and Participation Plan for students and our wider Equality & Diversity Scheme.
In endorsing the REC submission the Vice-Chancellor wrote:
“If we are to be successful in delivering changes in both practice and culture, we recognise the leadership role that I and my senior team must bring to bear to ensure that the whole university community is delivering on our ambitions. Change, in all areas, will not come quickly, but we are determined to see progress over the initial timetable for our action plan, building on the work that we have already put in place and focussed, through this application, to benefitting the whole of our community by making a difference to the lives and opportunities for individuals from all ethnic backgrounds.”
I hope that this provides you with some reassurance that the University is already taking action as an institution and is committed to doing more. I would like to thank the many members of our community who also make a valuable contribution to race equality work through their research, scholarship, membership of staff and student organisations and contribution to the Race Equality Charter.
Finally, I invite each and every one of us, particularly our white staff and students to consider how we can help to make our University a place where an active commitment to race equality informs our daily practice. Our staff network and EDI adviser have provided some suggestions on how to be a white ally and the University library has set up a reading list. Links to all of these resources can be found on the BAME Staff Network intranet page.