The imperatives outlined below have been created and agreed by those working on the Race Equality Charter (REC) Submission.
The entirety of the REC action plan was reviewed to draw out a number of overarching areas where activity is required in order to focus efforts towards progressing these and moving towards becoming an anti-racist organisation. This is in the context of increasing attention to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) more generally across the organisation.
All of the actions taken will be informed by the Loughborough University Race Equity Guiding Principles, developed by the BAME Staff Network. Strategic objectives, KPIs, leadership and governance mechanisms will be developed to drive and monitor progress.
The imperatives, alongside some details, are presented below and are expanded upon further within the REC submission and action plan.
Improved diversity in leadership positions
Our University Leadership teams are predominantly composed of white people.
This lack of racial and ethnic diversity is a significant issue for the organisation. It will hold us back from being an effective organisation, especially but not solely around tackling racism and progressing equity and inclusion. Whilst race equity is the responsibility of all members of University leadership and staff, the lack of BAME staff on the senior leadership and amongst higher grades across the University is problematic and there are both moral and business imperatives that mean this must change.
Actions to ensure we as an organisation make the required progress includes:
- The creation of a leadership position to take overall responsibility for the University’s race equity work.
- A series of education and training activities, including:
- Anti-racism and Equality Act 2010 training, and positive action coaching to be delivered to members of senior leadership as well as those with responsibility for EDI.
- The piloting of a mentoring scheme between BAME and white colleagues.
- Regular, facilitated sessions regarding race, including whiteness, racism and anti-racism with the Academic Leadership Team and Professional Services Leadership Team.
- Use purposeful actions to increase racial diversity in areas currently lacking, such as
- Creating meaningful leadership mechanisms and opportunities for BAME staff and students.
- Implementation of updated equality impact assessments.
- Enhanced anti-racism training during recruitment.
- Piloting alternative recruitment processes to diversify candidates.
- Research to understand any organisational barriers to progression to open- term posts.
- University Committees to be aware of current racial diversity and, be prepared to use positive action to address.
A cultural shift
There is an identified need to educate and to change hearts and minds in order to foster a culture change across the organisation that is proactively anti-racist.
To support this cultural shift within the University, the following are some actions that the REC teams recommend are undertaken:
- Equity, diversity and inclusion be a prominent part of the overall University Strategy, with appropriate resourcing for effective implementation – both for EDI in general and race equity in particular.
- Education, including community conversations, campaigns, and training on race including whiteness, racism and anti-racism to run with staff and students on campus.
- Bringing BAME staff and students together in safer spaces to build community and co-design leadership opportunities, interventions and initiatives.
- Race Equity Champion roles in Schools to be established, supported by a wider community of anti-racist practitioners.
Attract and maintain Black staff
Whilst our staff profile has seen increasing numbers of BAME staff, we still see significant underrepresentation of Black staff, particularly within academic staff and senior leadership positions.
To attract and maintain Black staff, we will address issues experienced by BAME staff in general as well as focus on challenging anti-Blackness through:
- Undertaking work to allow us to progress towards meeting agreed numerical targets regarding recruitment as detailed in the REC action plan.
- Understanding and mitigating institutional barriers, such as:
- Undertaking a thorough review of relevant policies and procedures (such as recruitment, progression, grievance and disciplinary), informed by an anti-racist approach in collaboration with the BAME Staff Network.
- Reviewing and implementing changes to the redeployment policy for fixed term contracts.
- Understanding the prevalence of BAME staff on fixed-term contracts as opposed to open-ended contracts.
- Investigating why fewer BAME applicants are offered posts once shortlisted, and for some roles, give fewer acceptances once offered.
- Investigating the circumstances when BAME staff leave.
Tackle defensiveness in response to data
Data regarding race and racial inequality and inequity comes under significant, and at times excessively inappropriate scrutiny, with defensiveness in response to data being a frequent response. We recognise this defensiveness as a racist response because it denies the lived experience of BAME people in our community and alienates them from the institution.
As a result, we
commit to the default acceptance of data illustrating racial inequity/inequality that has been rigorously processed and analysed internally by colleagues with expertise in data handling. This will reduce time spent excessively questioning data and allow for more time to devise and implement interventions.
We will encourage this attitudinal shift in Schools through the creation of local Race Equity Champion roles.
Increase confidence in raising and responding to racist incidents
Whilst the University has taken clear and swift action in response to racist incidents that are reported formally, including individuals having their studies terminated, there remains a lack of trust regarding the raising of racist incidents and how the University responds to such incidents. This leads to underreporting and ultimately places racialised minority staff and students in positions where they are experiencing harm without support and remedy. This frustrates the identification of the root causes of harm.
Actions to ensure we as an organisation make progress in this area include:
- Reviewing and improving the methods of reporting racist incidents within the university, and increasing awareness of this for staff and students.
- Increase staff confidence in the University grievance and disciplinary processes by ensuring key colleagues involved received race equity and anti-racist practice training, as well as categorisation of future grievance and disciplinary cases to monitor patterns and trends, which will allow early intervention where needed. A review of the University grievance processes is underway as a result of University’s REC work.
- Engaging with external stakeholders in the local community, including the police, local authority/council, and University Community Wardens, to raise awareness of issues relating to race and racism.
Transform the student experience for BAME students
Data shows racial inequality and inequity throughout the student journey. Work is necessary to address racial equity and to unpick processes that underpin the student academic experience. We plan to expand and create more meaningful leadership opportunities and supportive programming for BAME students, and establish the institutional conditions needed to encourage, enable and support staff to develop more racially and ethnically inclusive curricula. We will enable partnership and collaboration between senior leadership, all relevant professional services, Schools, the BAME Staff Network, LSU, and the Doctoral College to do so.
Actions will be taken to transform the student experience for BAME students including:
- Reviewing Personal Academic Tutor processes and support to address, reduce and eventually eliminate any structural bias that exists.
- Ensure all academic programmes have at least one session a year delivered by a BAME academic member of staff, without overstretching capacity of our BAME academics.
- Introducing welcome and induction events for BAME students.
- Cultural competence training being undertaken for all incoming students.
- Upscaling the BAME specific support, currently delivered in group settings, offered through Student Services in order to provide 1-2-1 support as needed.
- Develop race equity training and guidance for programme and module leaders to support self assessment of their programme and module content, key readings and research cited. Embed as part of the Programme Leaders training programme and library services.
- Review and improve the Programme Approval Process (new programmes) to ensure all new programmes consider race equity in their design, delivery and assessment.
- Develop and host workshops for all staff on how to consider racial inclusivity in curriculum design, delivery and assessment. Embed as part of the Programme Leaders training programmes and modules on ‘Working with students as a Programme Leader’ and ‘Quality Assurance’.
- Introduce topics around racial inclusivity to Student-Staff Liaison Committees (SSLCs) agenda as a recurring topic for discussion.
- Provide guidance to support staff and students to develop skills that encourage working with a diverse group of people as part of formal group work and informal class discussions.
Provide a better experience for Black PGR students
Student focus groups have highlighted poor experiences for Black PGR students with reports of not feeling part of the academic community.
To counteract this, the University will
- Support the emerging BAME PGR Consortium, a joint project of the BAME Staff Network and Doctoral College, and create specific safer spaces for Black PGR students if desired.
- Connect Black PGRs with BAME and especially Black academics to discuss a career in academia as well as other career options post-PhD.
- University Market Research will undertake work to understand if our current PGT and Research provision is impacting on the low numbers of Black UK students at these levels.
- Ensure that a story is featured in the University staff and student newsletter on at least a quarterly basis that highlights and celebrates the work and achievements of BAME staff or research students.