The Inclusive University

A day in the life of.... the Equality and Diversity Forum

Posted by Valerie Russell Emmott | 0 Comments

A well-attended Equality and Diversity Forum (‘EDF’) took place yesterday. As UWE’s diversity champion, I chaired this in the absence of Vice Chancellor Steve West, who is the usual chair.

For those who might not be familiar with it, the Forum comprises student representatives, staff members from the diverse staff networks, trade unions’ equality representatives and key managers. We meet quarterly to discuss E&D related matters that are relevant to all these stakeholder and their constituencies.

Yesterday, the Forum was updated on lots of valuable markers of our collective progress towards the University’s inclusivity goal. These included:

• UWE’s success with Stonewall on LGB equality, where we ranked 11th this year in the Top 100 Employers’ Workplace Index and top university;
• A positive visit and assessment regarding our attempt to gain Two Ticks (positive about disabled people) accreditation;
• Progress in our pursuit in 2016 of the Race Equality Charter Mark; and
• The identification of a number of senior colleagues as diversity champions supporting specific protected characteristics (more news on this in a later blog).

Staff and student reps shared issues that they were facing, including ongoing issues for staff of time to commit to staff networks, support for these networks from the E&D unit, given its current work plan, and issues linked to the promotion of the compulsory ‘E&D Essentials’ online learning module.

Scarlett Oliver, UWESU’s VP for Comms and Welfare, updated the meeting on SU developments, especially the important anti-abuse campaign.

The meeting had a fascinating and informative input from a team from FBL working on the new building and related E&D issues. There was then a small group discussion led by Scarlett and  Nicky Bolt and Sue McKay, from the Student Disability Service, about changes to the disabled student allowance and hardship funds.

We then heard from Shona Flanagan, a hearing-impaired third year fine art student based at Bower Ashton, who shared her personal experiences as a UWE student. This was powerful testimony and helped us all understand the challenges faced by Shona and others like her. Shona is the president of the National Deaf Students’ Association and is a great role model and champion for others.

Finally the Forum heard about upcoming E&D events at UWE and the local area. To find details, go to the UWE website, then to ‘News and Events’ > ‘What’s On’ and follow the link to ‘Events by Category’  and then select ‘Equality and Diversity’.

I would like to thank all who attended EDF for their ongoing commitment to the University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion agenda.

Professor Ron Ritchie
Pro Vice-Chancellor
Partnerships, Diversity and Civic Engagement