Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at Loughborough University – why bother?
Issues of equality, diversity and inclusion have gained renewed prevalence recently. Internationally, we have seen media coverage of the heinous murder of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests, a global strengthening of the Me-Too movement against sexual violence and harassment, alongside global campaigns for improved social justice for LGBTQ communities.
We have also seen national outrage at the tragic murder of Sarah Everard, and Prince Harry has raised awareness of the trauma and compounding stigma and marginalisation that we can all experience when dealing with mental health challenges.
Here at Loughborough University, we too are seeing changes. Colleagues have worked hard towards the Race Equality Charter submission and continue to show commitment to addressing gender inequality in academia through Athena Swan. As a Stonewall Diversity Champion, the University also aims to provide a supportive and inclusive environment for the LGBTQ+ community.
Perhaps most notably, our senior leaders have made a critical shift in their response to EDI by publicly acknowledging that Loughborough University has policies and practices that are institutionally racist. Loughborough is not alone being institutionally racist as an HEI, but to acknowledge this and most importantly to commit to making a change is significant.
We also have a new and already acclaimed LU Race Equity Strategy in the final stages of development (design led by Dr Angela Martinez Dy, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Advocacy Lead, BAME Staff Network).
Across the institution, student and staff networks are increasingly bringing attention to disparities in the treatment and experience of those in our community who have protected characteristics or who are otherwise identified as marginalised. Gradually, we are also working towards giving more platforms for non-academic staff, lower grade staff and disabled staff and students to be heard.
But why is this work important?
This shift signifies that at Loughborough there is a growing community that is energised and motivated for change. The alternative is that we become so desensitised to living with discrimination that it remains the norm, and we fail to recognise the devastation discrimination brings to some of us and the social losses it brings to us all.
As a higher educational institution, discrimination particularly limits our collective potential and robs us all from benefitting from the richness and vibrancy that comes from a diversity of talent and freely expressed ideas and perspectives. We know that institutional discrimination leads to measurable gaps in student attainment for some groups and loss of retention of students and staff.
For those on the sharp end, whether the discrimination be against sexual orientation or belief or be it rooted in sexism, ablism, racism, genderism or ageism, the trauma experienced can have a deeply destructive and long-lasting impact on an individuals’ lived experience.
One of the many positive outcomes of Loughborough University’s aspiration to work towards proactively promoting EDI is the creation of a new EDI subcommittee. This started in February 2021, and it is anticipated that it will be superseded by a full Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee in 2021/22.
The purpose of the EDI subcommittee, currently linked to the Human Resources Committee, is to govern the leadership, development and implementation of the University’s developing Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion strategy. It is intended to embed EDI in all University business, to support its duty to ensure legal compliance with the Equalities Act 2010 and its intended aim of protecting people from discrimination in the workplace, and to hold the University to account to this commitment.
Alongside the EDI subcommittee, the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Advisory Forum (EDI – Advisory Forum) co-chaired by Dr Angela Martinez Dy and Dr Asya Barutcu has also been established. The EDI-Advisory Forum is an opportunity for everyone in the University community to be involved in the work of improving equality, diversity and inclusion, and to influence by informing the future priorities of the EDI agenda. The regular and transparently run forum will centre on the issues faced by groups with protected characteristics, and other experiences of marginality, across the University and share good practice, failures, and challenges around EDI from within and outside of the Loughborough community.
If you would like to get involved and hear more about Loughborough University’s EDI developments, please drop in to the first meeting of the EDI Advisory Forum on 8 June between 10am and 11.30am. You can join the meeting here.
Head of Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity
Chair of EDI Subcommittee
Co-Chair of the BAME Staff Network
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Reflections, comments, discussion and opinion on EDI topics from Loughborough University staff and students