Equality and Inclusion

We know that we have to act to help improve equality and inclusion internally across our Board and Staff as well as externally across the higher and further education sector and the sustainability sector.

Here is a summary of actions we have taken to date:

Internal Actions

  • We are collating HE & FE data on protected characteristics. There is no one data set for the whole of the sector so we are using different sources for the HE and FE sectors to come to a ‘sector average’.
  • We have collated protected characteristics from the Board and staff. These will then be benchmarked against the ‘sector average’.
  • We are arranging in-depth training for staff in November. The 2-day training will be specific to looking at barriers and challenges as well as opportunities specific to the education and sustainability sectors. All staff have already received the University of Gloucestershire Diversity and Inclusion training which included unconscious bias training. We feel we need to have this more in-depth training ahead of drafting our policy to build a deeper level of understanding and both personal and group commitment to seeing opportunities for change and the culture to make them happen. All Board members have confirmed that they have been provided with training through their own institutions.
  • We presented at the Member Roundtable on 7th October to provide members with an update on activity. We aim to have a regular update in our newsletters as well as a regular item at the Member Roundtables. The Member Roundtables are for Key Contacts and Fellows.
  • We have created Associate Trustee positions to further open opportunities for people outside of the sector and with protected characteristics to join the Board. The Board also removed the requirement for previous board experience to encourage more younger/early career applications. In July 2021 the Board confirmed Romas Malevicius and Neelum Choudhury as Associate Trustees. We look forward to working with them to help our work in this area.
  • We have trialled anonymised recruitment as part of our commitment to minimise any unconscious bias within our recruitment process and we have now made this standard practice for all future positions. All name, ethnicity, age, email address, photos, address are removed by a different member of staff to those that are part of the shortlisting process. We have always used equal opportunity forms in our recruitment process.
  • The Scotland team are reviewing terms of references for Topic Support Networks and the length of term for convenors to encourage a more regular turnover and recruitment basis.
  • A group has been established with members who are interested and keen to help us with this area.
  • All staff have undertaken a 2 day in-depth training session

External Actions

  • We have been holding discussions with other sector bodies that do work in this area to explore areas where we can amplify and compliment and to identify any specific gaps where we can bring around change. Discussions to date have been with Groundworks, IES, Chandra Ladwa, Jeff Greenidge (Director of Diversity, AoC & ETF joint role) and Deborah Gabriel (Founder, Black British Academics). We have approached Black FE Leadership but they are not willing to engage in discussion until they see greater diversity on our Board.
  • We have been collating and uploading diversity, justice and inclusion linked resources and tools to the Sustainability Exchange website and will be promoting this to members on a regular feature within our newsletter. All staff are asked to contribute to sourcing news stories/resources which also widens all of our awareness as well. https://www.sustainabilityexchange.ac.uk/diversity_and_inclusion_resources_eauc
  • We have created resources to focus on specific areas which include period poverty and encourage case studies from institutions on the SDGs as well as climate justice issues through our flagship international programmes - the SDG Accord, Race to Zero for Universities and Colleges and the International Green Gown Awards.
  • We prioritize sessions from the global south for our virtual conferences – particularly focusing on regions/countries that often do not have the opportunity to speak on other platforms (i.e. not elite institutions), especially in our Virtual Global Conference. At all of our events we ensure we have a good gender balance.
  • We have partnered with Change Agents and SOS to develop a sector-specific programme - Kickstart for Sustainability in Tertiary Education - for the Government Kickstart Scheme which funds 6 month work placements for young people on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment and are particularly encouraging institutions to focus on increasing diversity within their teams. We strongly encourage participating institutions to top up the minimum wage provided by the Government to be the Living Wage. Through the experienced team at Change Agents, SOS and ourselves we will provide a comprehensive support package for all placements through this programme.
  • Following on the research project “skills for the Future” we have partnered with Change Agents to run Sustainable Futures as a pilot in 3 colleges in disadvantaged areas (Wakefield College, West Anglia College and Belfast Metropolitan College). “We know that for all young people today, sustainability will need to become an intrinsic part of their future jobs and careers. Access to the education and skills that will help them to prepare for this future is often lacking, limited and hampered by inequality. We believe all young people should have access to this learning - developing skills and building confidence about their future. Sustainable Futures aims to address this need.” Each college identified 40-50 learners to take part in the workshops. The feedback has been very positive and we hope to be able to promote this opportunity to the wider sector. 
  • We are working with other partners to develop better career guidance and pathways to enter the sustainability sector as well as making all jobs green. We are working with UKRI, WWF and partners through the COP26 Universities Network sub-group on Education & Skills as well as BEIS and the Green Jobs Taskforce Team.
  • We have profiled our Student Climate Commissioners and ensured that a youth voice is included during any presentations on behalf of the Climate Commission. We have run a podcast series with students to discuss their backgrounds and interest and journeys in climate action. 
  • We are creating a speaker database to help improve diversity on speakers at events. This is for speakers from the education sector and we will make this publicly available. You can find out more details on this here.

Actions To Do

  • Following the staff training a draft equality and inclusion policy will be developed. We will seek member feedback as well as the partners we have already engaged with.
  • Following the approved equality and inclusion policy an action plan will be developed.
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