“The future depends on what you do today”. Gandhi
27th June 2018
I get to write this week’s blog. I hope that you’ve enjoyed our guest posts over the last few weeks. They certainly covered a wide range of interesting topics.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I thought work might become a little less busy as the term draws to a close. How wrong I was! Given this, I thought I would share a couple of things that have happened over the last few weeks.
If you follow us regularly, you will know that we’ve had an equality and diversity intern, Kayleigh, since last July. Well she finished last week. You can find her last blog here. We are all a little bit sad, Kayleigh has left quite a big hole within the HR team. However, we are really pleased and proud of her. Having finished her degree, she has secured a professional level job. I’d like to think that the opportunities we were able to put in place, gave her knowledge, skills and experience that will be valuable as she progresses in her career.
It is really rewarding to be able to support the development of others. I recall a previous manager saying to me that I might reach a point when I make a choice of remaining operational, or moving into a management or strategic role. I chose the latter. It wasn’t soon before I realised that, in a strategic role, I could have a positive influence on the lives of people that I had yet to meet. In some cases, I might never meet them. At the university, I am in the privileged position of being able to initiate and support cultural change. We have developed a relationship with National Star College to offer supported internships to their learners. A partnership that we intend to build on for the next academic year. This leads me into the second thing that I wanted to share.
I couldn’t really let the term finish without talking about our first diversity and inclusion conference, “A Call to Action”. The feedback from the day has been overwhelmingly positive. It seems that one of the star’s of the event was Adam, the learner from National Star College.
Our morning speakers were our Chancellor, Baroness Rennie Fritchie and Claire Priestley, Director of IT at City, University of London. Rennie talked about how she built her work on the early activists from the 1960s, to reinforce concepts of fairness and treating women equitably. When asked in the question and answer session “what next?” she replied that we need to make diversity personal to our lives and our work. Claire definitely made it personal, sharing the role model she had in her grandmother. When taking a new boyfriend home her grandmother asked, “Is that a serious effort or what?” A mantra that Claire has adopted throughout her life. Claire became the next generation of “warrior” using statistics and focusing on the benefits to business of greater diversity.
Our afternoon started with Laurence Clark who kept us entertained, but also challenged us through his humour. Kathryn, Kirsten and Adam then shared their story about the supported internship, “Steps into Work” programme. Adam made a personal appeal to delegates to support the programme, having shown some shocking statistics about the difficulties disabled people face accessing work. Sado Jirde, Director of the Black South West Network continued this theme, but with a focus on race. She echoed Adam’s appeal to create more opportunities for under-represented groups. She challenged us to have the uncomfortable conversations and build a shared respect for difference to create a sense of belonging for everyone. Ruth Davies, our HR Director, closed the conference and shared the value of giving “unconditional positive regard”; listening without judging, accepting and building understanding.
Click on the gallery below to view our afternoon speakers.
The speakers were supported by workshops, and I am very grateful to all those facilitators who delivered such a diverse range of engaging topics.
It is important that events like these don’t become one-off events. That we do take those next steps. We have already made a commitment to offer more work experience opportunities and I would like to take Claire’s +1 idea forward.
It would be great to hear what action you were inspired to take.