Belonging: A reflection of the last 12 months
An update on the first year of our ‘Belonging’ Strategy.
How far have we come?
We’re excited to bring you this update on the first year of our ‘Belonging’ Strategy. It sets out our achievements, progress against our Key Performance Indicators and explains our improvement priorities as we continue the journey towards our vision.
Thank you for all the ideas, actions and input that has raised awareness, increased the visibility of equity, diversity and inclusion, and accelerated the change to become a more inclusive University for both staff and students.
The continued collaboration and support from colleagues in creating a place where everyone feels they belong has been integral to the work of the Equality team. We wanted to share the key successes of the past year with you. We are on journey of creating inclusion one action at a time.
Key successes for 2022/2023
- Successful re-accreditation of Disability Confident Leader.
- Focus on Belonging throughout June to profile Inclusion across the organisation.
- Reducing trend in our Median Gender Pay Gap for the fourth consecutive year down to 11.29%.
- Launch of our Allyship Pledge Scheme enabling staff to be an Ally, practising inclusive behaviours.
- 25% of staff have attended our Developing Inclusive Behaviours workshop.
Goal 1: Attract, retain, develop, and support a more diverse workforce
Over the last 12 months we’ve focussed our efforts to embed inclusive practice throughout our recruitment process. We’ve expanded the media channels we use, paid attention to our language, drafting shorter, easier-to-read job descriptions and adverts, increasing engagement and building relationships throughout the process.
We’ve changed our narrative, showcasing our students’ work and our activities demonstrating our commitment to creating a sense of belonging for everyone, where they feel they can be the best they can be. You can read some of our editorial in Fyne Times.
Learning and sharing knowledge
As a team we are continually learning and sharing knowledge from webinars and forums. This helps to keep our knowledge up to date and brings new conversation into the University, igniting different ways of thinking to support our staff and students.
To support the development of our staff, we have started to move away from standalone programmes, preferring to create learning journeys, with continuous learning opportunities for staff to enhance the quality of their existing skills and knowledge and build new ones.
We continue to deliver our Developing Inclusive Behaviours Workshop, with almost 25% of staff having attended.
Our Insights Discovery Development workshop builds on this learning. This psychometric tool based on the psychology of Carl Jung, helps staff better understand themselves and their colleagues, facilitating more respectful, positive and productive working relationships, including in virtual environments.
A further development of this learning journey to foster an inclusive culture has been the introduction of our coaching workshops, supporting the transfer of learning into practical action.
Disability Confident Leader Reaccreditation
In February 2023 we were proud to announce that the University of Gloucestershire was successful in gaining its re-accreditation as a Disability Confident Leader.
In line with our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategy, Belonging, the University is recognising individuality; ensures support is offered according to individual needs to achieve greater fairness in outcomes; and directing our focus towards making positive actions to improve inclusion.
January was our first exclusive month dedicated to staff wellbeing. Staff were able to participate in events and activities aimed to improve their health and improve their wellbeing. These included, health MOTs, Keeping Calm sessions as well as Keeping Active sessions like Zumba and walking football, as well as sessions focussed on the Menopause.
Academic staff offered to share their research with colleagues and insights into what enables good wellbeing. Linked to a key goal in our People Strategy to improve wellbeing, foster a holistic approach to wellbeing and to encourage a healthier culture for our staff. Staff were also invited to engage in a survey about their wellbeing.
Goal 2: Improve students’ experiences, supporting their mental and physical wellbeing, creating a sense of belonging so they learn, thrive and achieve
We recognise and are committed to the duties of care towards our students. We have extended our support services for students including counselling and mental health, and in new systems for reporting cases of abuse and harassment. Through our participation in the Student Minds Mental Health Charter, we are facilitating a whole-university approach to supporting the mental wellbeing of our students.
We are developing and applying learning analytics so that we can better understand our students’ engagement with their learning, ensuring they have the learning and personal support they need to engage and flourish.
Our Chaplaincy Team work tirelessly to create a sense of belonging for all at UoG. They improve the student experience and support through weekly activities at our sanctuary spaces. They run specific events for international students including city bike tours, BBQs and exploring local areas of interest to help them settle in. As well as supporting students to settle into life in Gloucestershire, we celebrate their religious and belief festivities.
Our Students’ Union led an ‘International Students Campaign’ focussed on improving international students’ access to their educational and social university experience.
International Student Celebration
At the International Student Celebration in June, Vice Chancellor, Stephen Marston, awarded over 40 students from 13 different countries with their international scholarships across from 35 different courses.
Goal 3: Increase engagement in equity, diversity, and inclusion practice across the University through learning opportunities, joint working and shared objectives
Increased collaboration has been an area of success for the University this year. Joint working on shared objectives have resulted in increased visibility of all types of inclusion.
International Women’s Day
For International Women’s Day 2023, UoG showed its appreciation of the wonderful women that work at the institution by encouraging the University community to nominate women who have had a positive impact on and pioneered change at UoG.
We then recreated a photo from 100 years ago and shared it across our social media.
Belonging Month 2023
In June, to mark the end of the first year of our Strategy, we wanted to shine a light on ‘Belonging’. Belonging, a thematic ambition within our Strategic Plan, and a key goal in our People Strategy. We highlighted some of the work undertaken to ensure our staff and students feel welcomed, respected, safe and empowered to share their cultures, heritages, and identities. We also created learning opportunities to explore what more we could be doing.
We hosted a variety of interesting speakers and interactive workshops throughout the month, as well as drawing attention to the plethora of resources available to enhance and support individual learning and education and inviting guests to take over the Equity blog.
- EDI Lead from Gloucestershire Fire Services spoke about identity and culture.
- The Student Wellbeing team advised on helping students in crisis.
- Workshop on Decolonising the Curriculum.
- Head of Business School spoke about mental health and inclusion.
- Online talk from our Recruitment Lead on adopting an inclusive approach to recruiting new staff.
- Inclusive Communication hints and tips from our social media team.
This year at the Festival of Learning we launched our Staff Allyship Scheme. We are encouraging staff to sign up to 4 pledges.
#Pledge 1 – I will educate myself. Continuous self-education of what an Ally is and how to behave as one; be prepared to step outside of your comfort zone, challenge your biases and learn how to respond to challenge.
#Pledge 2 – I will own my privilege. Understand that privilege is a resource that can be used for good.
#Pledge 3 – I will listen to the voices of marginalised groups and amplify them.
#Pledge 4 – Being an Ally means being active; if I see something I will say something. Recognise discrimination when it happens and take appropriate action.
On doing this, staff will be awarded one of our colourful Rainbow Lanyards as well as an invitation to attend an awareness session about what an Ally is.
Our Inclusion Champions (formerly our Equality Champions) are staff members from across the University. They actively support the Belonging Strategy by representing the views of staff and students and channel them to the Equality Diversity and Inclusion Committee to effect change.
Goal 4: Decolonise our culture and curriculum
Our work to create a learning experience that is inclusive and accessible for all our students is supported by our Education Strategy. We continue to apply our decolonising the curriculum framework and are developing pedagogy that reflects our understanding of the individuality of our students and their capacity to contribute to their learning experience.
Annual Festival of Learning
In line with our Education Strategy, our annual Festival of Learning in 2023 focussed on “The Education of the Future”, with equity and belonging distinct features of presentations and discussion over the two days.
The external keynote speaker, Jim Dickinson, Associate Editor at Wonkhe, reflected our values of relationship-rich pedagogy, personalised learning and the links to creating a sense of belonging. The themes for the Open Paper Sessions included “Delivering more equitable, diverse and inclusive learning environments”; “Deepening student engagement, relationships and belonging” and “Teaching creatively to enable a diversity of students to flourish”.
The Academic Exchanges and Lightning Presentations addressed engagement, professional identity, inclusive practices and personalised learning.
Goal 5: Inclusive Governance
Across the range of our activities, we aim to be outward looking, externally engaged and connected, working with partners for mutual benefit. Nothing we do will be done better by working in isolation.
This year we have worked with local artists, community organisations and public sector partners to create an exhibition commemorating 75 years of the Windrush generation and continued collaborations to plan and deliver events and activities marking Black History Month. We’ve extended our networks with local black and minority ethnic businesses through the Black Business Leaders Network that we helped to establish.
Internally we’ve sought to increase the transparency of our decision-making, simplifying our Equality Impact Assessment process, ensuring decisions consider equity, diversity and inclusion as they are being made.
We have enhanced the monitoring and evaluation of the equality practices of those organisations that we do business with. Through our procurement process we now encourage businesses to become Disability Confident employers, requiring it of those who are successful.
There is still much to be done to achieve the goals laid out in our Belonging Strategy.
Equality, diversity, and inclusion are embedded in our values and ambitions, supporting and enabling all students to live their lives in the way they choose, to express their thoughts freely, be respectful of each other, and to promote relationships, conversations and understanding between individuals with different world views, cultures and backgrounds.
Our priorities over the coming year will be to embed inclusive behaviours and practices to support ‘Belonging’.
Here at UoG we are creating Inclusion one action at a time.