Race Equality Taskforce
The Race Equality Taskforce will lead the University's commitments to race equality and oversee their effective implementation and communication.
Professor Rajani Naidoo has been appointed as Head of the Race Equality Taskforce (RET) to provide a strategic leadership for the development and implementation of equality objectives relating to race. Rajani reports to the Vice Chancellor and will be working closely with the senior leadership team of the University, with Deans in Faculties and Schools, with staff and student representatives and with the Student Union to ensure that objectives can be enacted across the University. To find out more about Rajani and her background, please see this announcement.
Progress and next steps
Professor Rajani Naidoo recorded a video discussing her role, progress to date and next steps. Some of the highlights include:
Rajani discussed her first tasks when she started her role as the Head of Race Equality Taskforce, including listening to members of our community to understand the different experiences of racism, and the way this interacts class, gender, sexuality and disability. She has also looked at structures and processes including following live cases of how we support students. Professor Naidoo discovered the inspirational work that is already occurring across Faculties and Schools, by the Student Union, central ED&I team and by Professional Services Teams right across the University.
Following recent Council Approval, Professor Rajani Naidoo will be putting in place a Taskforce that will work towards the Race Equality Charter Award. It will include academics and professional services staff and be broadly representative when it comes to gender, sexuality and disability. The RET should be in place by May 2021. Due to high interest expressed by colleagues and students to join the Taskforce, Rajani will also be setting up special advisory groups under the RET to widen our knowledge base and add more diverse perspectives.
The taskforce will conduct an analysis across all areas and levels of the university including the recruitment, experience and progression of staff and students; our structures, policies and processes; research, curriculum and pedagogy and institutional culture. RET will draw on surveys, focus groups and institutional data. Beyond our University, we will engage with local community groups and draw inspiration from initiatives in other countries.
The taskforce will publish a comprehensive report and action plan with staggered deadlines over a 3 year period. We will submit an application for the Race Equality Charter award within the next two years.
Race Equality Charter
The Race Equality Charter (REC) is a national scheme aimed at improving the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education. Its purpose is to inspire a strategic approach to making cultural and systemic changes that will make a real difference to minority ethnic staff and students.
The REC provides a framework through which institutions work to identify and self-reflect on institutional and cultural barriers standing in the way of minority ethnic staff and students. It covers academic staff, professional services staff, student progression and attainment and diversity of the curriculum. As with Athena Swan, REC is an evolving charter. Institutions are expected to start at Bronze level and progress to Silver. The award is at institutional level only but actions must be owned and implemented at Faculty level.
The REC is underpinned by five fundamental guiding principles:
- Racial inequalities are a significant issue within higher education. Racial inequalities are not necessarily overt, isolated incidents. Racism is an everyday facet of UK society and racial inequalities manifest themselves in everyday situations, processes and behaviours.
- UK higher education cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of the whole population and until individuals from all ethnic backgrounds can benefit equally from the opportunities it affords.
- In developing solutions to racial inequalities, it is important that they are aimed at achieving long-term institutional culture change, avoiding a deficit model where solutions are aimed at changing the individual.
- Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff and students are not a homogenous group. People from different ethnic backgrounds have different experiences of and outcomes from/within higher education, and that complexity needs to be considered in analysing data and developing actions.
- All individuals have multiple identities, and the intersection of those different identities should be considered wherever possible.
By joining Advance HE’s Race Equality Charter, institutions are committing to following these principles in how they approach race equality and address their institutional culture. Once an institution has signed up to the REC by sending in their letter of commitment, they will need to submit their application within three years.