National Day for Staff Networks
Today marks the National Day for Staff Networks – a day dedicated to recognising, celebrating and thanking our Staff Networks for the part they play in building an equitable, diverse and inclusive institution.
As an EDI Coordinator, I have had the opportunity to meet with representatives from most of Loughborough’s Staff Networks over the last few months. I have also joined in a number of events – from academic lectures to film festivals to pub quizzes! lt is clear that the staff leading these groups are passionate about the work they’re doing – they want to make Loughborough a more diverse, more inclusive and more enjoyable place to work. Plus, they are doing amazing work towards making sure all our staff feel a sense of safety and belonging at Loughborough.
The University currently has 10 active staff networks. Some relate to personal characteristics (eg the MAIA Women’s Network and the BAME Staff Network) and some to job characteristics (eg Part-time staff group, Staff 2000 Network). All of them add incredible value to the Loughborough community. Networks are safe, supportive spaces, where staff at all levels of the University work together to transform our institution. Being part of a Staff Network gives members a sense of belonging and a chance to build friendships and professional relationships. They drive change, providing insight into the lived experiences of under-represented colleagues, and influencing and shaping the University’s practices.
We reached out to various staff members to ask them about their experiences of being involved with staff networks at Loughborough:
“The Committee for the Working Parents and Carers Staff Network was only formed last year. When we first took over as network leads, there were less than 20 staff members on the Network. We are so proud to have expanded this to well over 100 members. In particular, we’re pleased to see more dads becoming involved and benefiting from sharing their views and experiences of being parents. The Network is definitely more visible and many of our newer members have told us how much they have valued the support network and friendships they have made as a result. As well as providing a supportive community, the Network is engaging in conversations about training for managers on issues impacting parents and carers, such as parental leave and supporting staff through personal difficulties such as miscarriage. We’re so proud to be involved in initiatives that will have a wide-reaching impact on the University’s staff and their wellbeing.” – Abbie Loney, Co-Chair, Working Parents Group
“I am an executive sponsor for the Inclusivity Network. Being a member of this network has given me more understanding of the different visible and invisible health issues that many of our colleagues are struggling with. It is wonderful to see that in the network there is a sincere willingness to listen to each other and to provide practical and emotional support.” – Professor Cees de Bont, Executive Sponsor, Staff Inclusivity Network
“There are so many things I value about the Maia Network. Attending events is always a highlight because it’s lovely to meet new colleagues and spend time with those from completely different parts of the University. The Maia community is amazing, and everyone is so kind and friendly – it’s a great space for colleagues who are new to the University or looking to meet people outside of their immediate department. I also value the opportunities the network offers to develop and grow in skills. For example, we launched the new Micro-Shadowing Scheme this year which saw many colleagues getting to shadow fellow Maia members in particular skills and tasks that they wanted to develop. It was a great example of how committed and generous our lovely members are to give up their time to support others in the Maia community. I feel very lucky to be co-leading such a wonderful committee and network and I would encourage anyone not yet involved in a Staff Network, to get involved!” – Abbie Coburn, Co-Chair, Maia Network
I personally would encourage staff to get involved with a network. Before coming to Loughborough, I was Chair of the LGBT+ Staff Network at York St John University. That role gave me many opportunities to meet people from different areas of the organisation, to work with the local community, to influence senior leadership, and to develop both personally and professionally. I gained a better understanding of the institution, and of higher education overall, and the skills I developed undoubtedly contributed to my decision to make the move from Student Services into EDI – and to me getting the role of EDI Coordinator here at Loughborough!
As a University, we are committed to facilitating networks to be able to make effective change. We need to recognise that Staff Networks do face real challenges, not least due to demands on their time and resources, balancing this alongside their usual workload. This is why the EDI team is working with Staff Network leads to improve communications and the support we offer. We are also determined to do a better job of celebrating our Staff Networks and what they do for the institution.
We are so grateful for our Staff Networks and want to take today to celebrate them and say thank you – to those on the committees, those who support, and those who get involved.
Find a full list of staff networks on the EDI website.
Emily Segaran, EDI Coordinator
Abbie Coburn, MAIA Co-Chair
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Reflections, comments, discussion and opinion on EDI topics from Loughborough University staff and students