Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager
Vicki Baars, Office of the President and Provost.
When I applied for university I had ambitions of being a physiotherapist for professional dancers. I didn’t get the grades I needed to study physiotherapy so I opted to study biomedical sciences as there was an option to do postgraduate convertion to a physiotherapy qualification. While at university I got very involved in the student liberation campaigns around abortion rights, LGBTQ+ inclusion and anti-racism. This involvement in student activism changed my mind entirely on what I wanted to do. My activism led me to spending 5 years as a paid elected student officer in my local students’ union and then in the National Union of Students (NUS).
One of the key pieces of work that I undertook, which more specifically led me towards a career in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, was writing an organisational strategy and work plan for the Equality Act (2010) coming into effect. During those 5 years as an elected officer I led campaign and change management projects, I was a trustee for a number of charities, I created and delivered a wide variety of training to name a few things. Working for NUS also allowed me to get to know a huge number of further and higher education institutions, so it’s no surprise that my career has consistently been in higher education.
I returned to UCL in September 2019 after a brief tour of 2 other universities in London. I briefly worked at Queen Mary where I worked in the Human Resources team as an EDI coordinator. I then spent 2.5 years at Goldsmiths as their Strategy & Review Manager – Sexual Harassment.
A lot of people think that EDI is a HR function and that you have to be a HR professional to move into such a role. My experience was that I was most able to influence change when I wasn’t based in HR.
If colleagues are thinking about getting involved in EDI I would advise them to follow their passions. Get involved in campaigns and influencing positive change. This builds up a bank of experience and is far more useful that a professional qualification.