We caught up with Sandra Beaufoy and Claire Algar from the Diversity and Inclusion team to find out what they get involved with all year round, and how you can make a difference.
What’s the role of the Diversity and Inclusion team?
Our fundamental message is that Equality, Diversity and Inclusion involves everyone! We all have protected characteristics, and may, as we move through our lives, experience new characteristics, such as disability.
We’re here to support Warwick people and make sure that the University’s policies and processes are appropriate, and put into practice fairly.
What kind of work do you get involved with?
Sandra: Our roles are extremely varied, as every single thing that the University does involves a diverse range of people (staff, students and visitors to campus) who could need support, and which could impact on our policies and processes. Part of our role is to ensure that the University complies with current equality legislation.
We provide guidance and support to individuals and departments with queries, supported by a network of Dignity Contacts, and raise awareness of the Dignity at Warwick Policy and how to report inappropriate behaviour, such as bullying, harassment or discrimination.
We organise an annual event across campus to focus everyone’s thoughts on dignity at Warwick – in 2016 this is themed around respect.
Claire: Some of Warwick’s submissions to external organisations are co-ordinated by our team. The Athena SWAN Charter Mark recognises commitment to advancing the careers of women; and the Race Equality Charter Mark focuses on improving the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students. Warwick also makes submissions to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index, and the EU HR Excellence in Research, which we get involved in writing.
We also contribute to the University’s Workforce Profile, which is produced annually to profile Warwick’s workforce and to benchmark against the sector.
We’ve set up a series of staff network groups for staff to meet and share experiences. At the moment we facilitate LGBT, black and minority ethic, disability, working parents and carers groups.
What’s your highlight from the last year?
Claire: The rising of the rainbow flag for the first time at Warwick in February 2016, by Ken Sloan (Registrar at the time), which celebrated LGBT History month.
Sandra: The introduction of our Working Inclusively in a Diverse Environment (WIDE) events, which aim to raise awareness of the issues that individuals face living with different protected characteristics.
This year we’ve had speakers talking about mental health, caring responsibilities, stillbirth and living with cancer. The events have been very popular and well received, and we’ll be planning more in the new year!
What are Warwick’s key policies in this area, and what’s changed recently?
Sandra: Our Equality statement and objectives 2016-2020 link in with the University strategy and set out how colleagues across the University are working to create an inclusive environment. Everyone in the Warwick community is welcome to give us comments and feedback on these objectives. If you’re involved in work which will help us meet them, please keep in touch with our team!
The Trans and gender reassignment policy has been updated to recognise that not all people who identify as trans will undergo any surgery, and to ensure that the right support is provided to individuals who identify as trans people.
We’ve also recently revised Warwick’s Disability policy to take into account the changes to Disabled Student Allowance, and updates to the support that’s in place for disabled students and staff members.
The team’s name has recently been updated from the Equality & Diversity team to the Diversity & Inclusion team, to better reflect the terminology used in the HE sector.
Claire: Every individual in our University community should be treated with dignity and respect and be part of a working and learning environment that is free from barriers, regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, gender, sexual orientation, marriage or civil partnership and pregnancy or maternity status.
Our diversity and inclusion policy sets out what the University’s priorities on this are, and how we will consult, communicate and engage with all of the Warwick community to advance equality.
However, policies are only part of the story – everyone in our community can work together to make Warwick even more welcoming and inclusive!
How do you want people to get involved?
- Help us disseminate diversity and inclusion information in your department
- Challenge inappropriate behaviour, in a professional manner.
- Get involved with the awareness events that we host (not just by attending the event, but offering to help on the information stands!)
- Take a look at our Equality objectives and give us feedback.
- Enter the diversity photo competition to help us showcase how diverse our community is.
- Join a staff network group, if you'd find that helpful.
- Tell us your story, to help us show a variety of roles and identities at Warwick and demonstrate how work and home commitments can be combined.
- Do contact the team and provide us with feedback and suggestions, we would love to hear from you.
Together we can do so much.