One of GEES’ guiding values is that our School is not only diverse but inclusive and equitable. The School must be a vibrant, safe, welcoming place to work and study and our culture must reflect this. Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity are not simply a ‘policy’ or the work of a committee: we hold they are central to and must be woven through everything that we do. EDI – in what we do, what we say, how we conduct ourselves, our research and our teaching – is everyone’s responsibility, and everyone has a role to play. The EDI committee aims to provide an open forum where staff and students from across the School can discuss strategies and actions that can support our values. But we are working hard to ensure that everyone – staff and students – has the resources, the knowledge, the skills and the confidence to play their part.
Critically, whilst we have made important strides in embedding EDI in the School’s work, we know that there is much more to do – both when it comes to addressing the under-representation of particular groups amongst students and staff, and when it comes to their experiences, their achievements and their progression before, during and after their time in the School. We already know that there are ongoing challenges in Higher Education relating (for instance) to the gender pay gap and the proportion of women staff women in senior roles; that there is an ‘awarding gap’ for students from some minority ethnic groups in the UK compared with white students; that Geography and the Earth Sciences are thoroughly infused with and were complicit in forms of exploration and colonialism that led to violence and injustice whose effects continue today (in for instance white privilege and racism); and that some staff and students identifying as LGBTQ+ are silenced or marginalised. Whilst we must remind ourselves of these challenges, we must also focus on strategies and actions to address these challenges.
You can read more about our actions, achievements, and recent work below ("Our actions, achievements and links to our work"). However, a key way in which we have been driving forward our EDI values in the School, and making them visible to our whole community, is through embedding EDI centrally within all aspects of the School’s work, strategically, at all levels. For instance:
- the School’s EDI Lead sits on the Heads Advisory Group and School Executive Committee (the Heads Advisory Group in particular offers a forum for responding quickly to issues raised by students and staff in a responsive way, at the highest level within the School, to ensure appropriate actions are taken);
- we have made a focus on EDI actions a central element of recent whole-School Away Days, with key senior staff such as Research Theme Leads and Heads of Education, Research and Admissions taking responsibility for taking forward actions with their groups/committees; Committee Heads also sit on the EDI committee and all School Committees are assessed for balanced representation;
- we ensure that the EDI committee is not only a forum for discussing policies but actions – there is a regular slot for all committee members to bring suggestions/problems, and we have developed interim ‘action plans’ that extend beyond and complement (for instance) our commitments with Athena Swan or Race Equality Charter action plans and are actionable locally, within the School;
- we have appointed a Wellbeing Lead and Access and Participation Lead, recognising the need both to highlight the central significance of these issues, and to develop School-level actions that link to but extend beyond ‘EDI’ as narrowly understood;
- we have been developing mechanisms for students and staff to communicate and collaborate around EDI issues – from student-staff forums, to the representation of students on the School EDI committee, to collaborative research and events;
- EDI training is mandatory for all staff and we are introducing a programme of compulsory EDI training for all students, to augment what already exists in our tutorial programmes;
- EDI is embedded centrally within key decision-making processes (such as staff recruitment and promotions panels);
- We regularly monitor all EDI data via the University’s data system, Tableau – and, critically, bring issues or challenges to relevant committees, not only the EDI committee
- we have policies and procedures in place to ensure that caring and other responsibilities, including parental leave, are embedded in our work and that staff are supported before, during and after any leave;
- we have established a number of temporary working groups to bring together key staff (and where relevant students) to address issues that cut across several of the School’s programmes and committees – such as ensuring that our fieldwork is as accessible and inclusive for all students and staff as possible.