D&I priorities for 2020: message from Allan LavilleFriday, 10 January 2020
Allan Laville is the new Dean for Diversity and Inclusion. He took up his role on 1 January 2020 and shares his top priorities for the coming year:
When considering Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Reading, there are many areas of good practice happening across the University. In this article, I refer to these areas of good practice alongside my priorities as Dean for Diversity and Inclusion.
In a few weeks’ time, Stonewall will publish its 2020 Workplace Equality Index (WEI). This is an important benchmark for employers to measure their progress on lesbian, gay, bi and trans inclusion in the workplace. We are already a Stonewall Top 100 Employer, having risen from 115th to 80th in 2019. Throughout 2019, many individuals at the University engaged in important LGBT+ inclusion work and I am very much looking forward to receiving the outcome for 2020.
In regard to student experience, in Summer 2019, alongside Charlotte Field and Lucy Hart, I conducted a UROP project (http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/urop2020/archive/2019/detail.aspx?id=933), which explored the experiences of LGBT+ students at the University of Reading. From this we have developed key recommendations for LGBT+ inclusivity in Higher Education. These recommendations will be presented at the CQSD 2020 Teaching and Learning Conference (http://www.reading.ac.uk/reading-cqsd/news/cqsd-conference2020.aspx).
As Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, a key priority for me is to work with individuals on reducing the attainment gap for BAME students. There has been good work in reducing this attainment gap (currently 10.8%, which exceeds the 2020 target of 12%: ../files/uor_-_di_annual_report__2017-18_final_version) however, more work can be completed. Through speaking to individuals with lived experience, one key aspect to being successful in work and study, is to have visible role models. In relation to this, when completing a leadership course recently, one of the delegates stated, ‘you can’t be, what you can’t see’, which really hit home to me. Therefore, the importance of role models and mentors cannot be underestimated, and I am very much looking forward to working with the members of the newly established BAME Staff Network, which is Co-Chaired by Santosh Sinha and Bolanle Adebola. The primary aim of the network is to support BAME staff in career progression, which in turn, will provide visible role models for our BAME students.
As evidenced in the most recent Diversity and Inclusion report (../files/uor_-_di_annual_report__2017-18_final_version), the median gender pay gap is reported to have fallen to 18.52% for the 12 months prior to 31st March 2018, which is a decrease from 20.99% in 2017. Key actions have been taken to support more women in applying for senior professorial and leadership positions, such as the Aurora leadership development courses. In 2018, there was an increase in women being promoted or appointed to professorships from 31.3% in 2017, to 34.58% in 2018 – against a sector average of 24.6%. In December 2019, the University submitted an institutional-level Athena SWAN application for a Silver award, and we are due to receive feedback in April 2020. I am looking forward to taking our Athena SWAN action plan forward over the coming years, with the aim of reducing the gender pay gap even further.
In this role, I will be looking to develop best practice action plans in order to support the experience of our staff and students with disabilities. Through projects similar to the UROP project above, I aim to explore the experiences of our students with disabilities to create key recommendations for Higher Education. I also aim to provide training opportunities for staff on how best to support our disabled students, starting with running the ‘Disability Research Showcase – Theory to Practice’, later in 2020, with my project co-lead Jo Billington. Finally, I will be working alongside Yota Dimitriadi, Chair of the Staff Disability Network, to develop a Disability Action Plan.
Lastly, I am very much looking forward to working with colleagues across the University to take forward the staff and student priorities from the upcoming 2020 University of Reading Diversity and Inclusion report.