Professor Anson Mackay and Eleanor Day write about the establishment of the Faculty's EDI Strategic Board, which the two will be co-chairing, and outlines the group's immediate priorities.
In our Faculty’s Ten Year Vision and Strategy we said that the value we place on equality, diversity and inclusion will underpin and inform all aspects of our work, and that we will strive to transform structural inequalities and resist systemic bias within the Faculty.
We set ourselves some major challenges, amongst them the promise that by 2029 we will have a significantly more diverse and equal workforce at all levels and in all roles, across all departments. We said that we will ensure that staff from different backgrounds and with differing identities feel included and accepted as individuals, able to thrive at work as fully equal members of the Faculty. We also said we will have significantly extended our recruitment of non-traditional students at all levels, particularly first-in-family students. We will attend more explicitly and deeply to the origins and destinations of our postgraduate research students, focusing particularly on encouraging applications from Black and minority ethnic students and supporting them through their doctoral studies.
Faculty EDI Strategic Board
To help deliver on these promises, a new Faculty Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategic Board was set up earlier this year. The Board is co-chaired by the Faculty’s Vice-Dean for EDI, Professor Anson Mackay, and one of the Faculty’s Departmental Managers, Eleanor Day, to ensure that EDI issues across all staff groups are represented at the highest level. The Board meets twice a term, with membership including all Departmental leads for EDI, the Faculty’s HR Business Partner, the Award Gap Lead, the Faculty Director of Operations and the Operations Manager and a member of the UCL EDI Team.
Priorities for 2020-21
A comprehensive and detailed one-year Action Plan for 2020-2021 has been drawn up, based on Faculty commitments to equality, including but not limited to the Dean’s race equality pledges, our 10-year Strategic Vision, and on-going developments linked to Covid19 and Black Lives Matter. The Board also has a remit to review Faculty plans, strategies, policy and guidance to ensure that they attend appropriately to issues of gender balance, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity. The development and implementation of Departmental Athena SWAN action plans are also supported by the Board, and we will ensure that SHS is fully engaged with all UCL equality issues, including the Race Equality Charter, the LGBTQI+ Equalities Action Group (LEAG) and the Enable@UCL, the staff network open to all disabled people at UCL.
The Action Plan is at the final stages of being ratified by the Faculty, but will lead on eight Pledges:
- Foreground our commitments to Equality, Diversity & Inclusion
- Respond promptly and visibly to staff and student feedback about their experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic
- Work proactively to increase the diversity of the student body, and take positive action to ensure the things we teach and the people who teach them are significantly more diverse
- Close the BAME awarding gap
- Work collaboratively with others outside the Faculty to address issues of inequality
- Establish a mentoring scheme for Professional Services staff in the Faculty
- Support departments to apply for Athena SWAN awards
- Develop the Faculty’s research and education strategic priority initiative around diversity, difference and inequalities
We have also just reached the end of the series of five two hour ‘Racism, racialization and the social and historical sciences: educating ourselves’ online reading and discussion group meetings. They were attended by over 100 members of academic, teaching and professional services staff from across all the Faculties’ nine departments and institutes and have provided a space for thinking and talking about racism and racialization from a range of disciplinary and theoretical perspectives. We read and discussed work by Achille Mbembe, Richard Wright, Franz Fanon, Vron Ware and Gail Lewis.
Over the coming year we will use the Newsletter to highlight in detail the actions being taken to tackle structural inequalities within the Faculty. If you would like to get in touch please contact the co-chairs.
Anson Mackay & Eleanor Day