Chemistry Women's Network since 2018
The Wellbeing and Diversity Committee in the Department has established a Chemistry Women’s Network across all female staff to provide advice, support and guidance to women as they move through various stages of their careers. We recognised that this type of activity is necessary to address the real and serious issue of gender imbalance in some areas of our sector. This network offers women positive and accessible female role models which impact on women's confidence and career decisions. Our network now comprises 52% of our female staff and was opened up to PG students in 2019.
Diversity and Inclusion / Culture Project
Together with an external consultant, Nicola Jones, we are exploring our experiences of the pandemic, the impact of new ways of working, and how we can establish behaviours and values that make the culture in our workplace more inclusive when we return. This project includes online workshops, surveys and careful analysis of all data to translate our shared behaviours and values into new ways of running our Department. We have completed a successful Pilot of this work, and are now expanding the work to include all staff on a voluntary basis. We are exploring collectively new dimensions as they emerge.
Departmental Flexible Working Policy
In line with the Department of Chemistry’s commitment to improve workplace equality and promote an inclusive culture, the Executive Committee has agreed to streamline flexible working arrangements for all staff. We want to ensure opportunities are visible to all categories of staff. Currently, 57% of support staff benefit from this policy. Arrangements include flexible start and finish times, flexible lunch hours, consideration of home working requests and remote working needs. These allowances support staff with caring responsibilities, requirements to participate in after school activities, and the desire to participate in wellbeing/social/sports activities.
Ensured a Balanced Panel on Interviews and Committees
We closely monitor membership of all interview panels and Departmental committees to ensure that all contain female representation. To increase the female staff available for panels, the University has agreed that experienced female Research Fellows can sit on panels recruiting staff at the same level. This is also seen as a developmental opportunity and will give female postdocs experience recruiting staff. This is a new initiative anticipated to be be rolled out to other departments. We recognise that diverse panels can greatly influence the Departments ability to recruit a diverse workforce.
Supporting a Research Fellows Forum since 2010
The RFF was created to ensure researchers felt part of the departmental structures and activities. This initiative was key to the Athena Swan 2010 action plan and has remained ever since. Increased activity in 2017 led to the first Warwick Postdoctoral Science Symposium in 2018, supported by the Department of Chemistry and the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Medicine. In early 2019 the Postdoctoral Society of Chemistry at Warwick was founded, a recent success of which is the Breaking Barriers Seminar Series funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry. Also linked to our Athena Swan initiatives is the The Postgraduate Certificate in Transferable Skills in Science for Postdoctoral Researchers (endorsed by the RSC).
Recruitment & Promotions with ED&I at the Core
In recruitment of staff, we have integrated essential criteria in all adverts and interviews promoting collegiality as a core value in the Department. We are advertising job opportunities on specialist women’s recruitment forums (e.g. WISE campaign) and screening and adjusting all job adverts to remove gender-biased language. In recruitment of students, we develop all advertising materials to achieve equal representation of gender and other protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. We have developed and run the "Demystifying the Promotions Process" annually since 2015 (jointly with Engineering since 2018). Applications for promotion have increased by 100% since 2016 and by 200% since 2012, and actual promotions are up by 100%.
Development of Teaching Allocation workload Model
The Department had developed and introduced an FTE weighted administrative and teaching workload model, a commitment made in our previous Athena SWAN action plan from our 2016 application, to assess volume of work, not the quality of performance. Following considerable work in obtaining the data for this model and wide consultation with staff, the department has started using the Teaching Allocation and Workload Model in 2020 to ensure that all staff activity is considered and workload is distributed fairly and appropriately.
Better Provision & Support for New Parents
Over the past few years there has been an increase in parental leave in the department. To ensure ensure a smooth transition for staff and students back to work, several initiatives were prioritised. In 2018, we created a dedicated space for staff and students in Chemistry to express and store breast milk or to feed their baby. We also strongly encourage the uptake of Keep in Touch (KIT) days for staff on maternity/paternity/adoption leave, and have seen an increase in the update of KIT days over the past 4 years. The department has a 100% return rate from maternity leave. Our flexible working approach has made it possible for new parents to amend their working patterns and/or reduce hours. Requests from both male and female members of staff have been approved.
Established Inductions for all New Staff
Since 2016, one-to-one induction meetings with all new staff and visitors have been carried out. After careful review of existing processes, the Chemistry Department created of a new, local Inductions scheme. Our scheme is comprised of a general induction from our administrative team, a Safety induction led by our technical team, and a meeting with the Head of Department to ensure new staff have settled in and to discuss career planning and training needs. More recently, we have integrated a 3-month follow-up meeting (from start date) to address any issues early on and ensure induction is running smoothly. For research assistants/fellows and senior research fellows this meeting takes place with the newly formed PSoC.