Tag: diversity

you can’t be what you can’t see

One of the new images from our online learning collection

Racial and ethnic diversity is a challenge for the Scottish HE IT sector. In Scotland in 2017 95.6 percent of the population identified as white. The next highest ethnic group was Asians with 2.6 percent. 

Jackie Kay thinks Scotland is ‘decades behind in attitudes to race’.

Skills Development Scotland highlight the  business drivers:

‘Getting race equality right in the UK is worth £24bn per year to the UK economy -1.3%of GDP. Employers with more diverse teams also have 35% better financial results.There are persistent unemployment rate gaps, with some ethnic minority groups experiencing employment rates which are twice as high as their white counterparts.  In 2016/1only 1.7%of Modern Apprentices in Scotland identified as BME’

 

Student interns work with us over the summer

In ISG we take an intersectional approach to  addressing the multiple factors, gender, race, religion, class, sexuality, and disabilities which shape the experience of our staff. Ethnicity is also a complex category. I had to google ‘do Jews count as minority ethnic?’ and there’s a whole discipline around collecting data.

Here are some of the things we have done:

We have employed an intern  (Dominique ) who is an expert in gender and race issues and how those combine to reinforce inequality. She has advised us on how to ensure that our gender equality initiatives also include race, age and class considerations.

In our recruitment, we have changed the language and images we use to  communicate what it is like to work in ISG.  We have also changed where we advertise, making more use of LinkedIn and the new Equate Scotland jobs board and the university careers service. As a result our new workers, and particularly our student interns appear to be a much more diverse group than the longer standing staff. Our interns are a pipeline to bringing new diversity into digital jobs.

We make sure that the images we use in BITs magazine and in other ISG promotional materials  reflect the diversity of our staff and discourage the use of ‘stock’ images to do so. We have also changed the images we use to promote use of technology and online learning, ensuring that the images on our websites reflect the demographics we know we have in our community. We are exploring how we can make more use of positive action images collections such as JopWell

A report from the Scottish Government’s independent adviser on race equality in Scotland in 2017 recommended actions for those with the aim of working towards achieving the goal of parity in employment for minority ethnic communities in the workplace.

Distribution of non-white ethnic backgrounds in Scotland in 2017* © Statista 2019m Source: Scottish Government

‘It is generally accepted that for public services to be effective and relevant for all communities in Scotland, the public sector workforce should reflect the community it serves. The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that by 2025 its own workforce will reflect at every level the minority ethnic share of the population. According to the 2017 staff diversity data published in the Scottish Government’s Equality Outcomes and Mainstreaming Report, BME staff currently comprise 1.6 % of the civil service in Scotland, an increase of 0.2 % since 2013.

The position set out in the CRER report of March 2014 is that just 0.8% of staff in all Scotland’s Local Authorities are from BME backgrounds despite making up 4% of the general population in Scotland. In Glasgow City Council the proportion of the workforce from a BME background is less than 2% although the BME population is 12%.

Given that the Public Sector employs 20.7% of the workforce in Scotland, accelerating action to tackle the diversity deficit in the Scottish Public Sector and meet the Scottish Government’s equality outcomes is, I suggest, a matter of some urgency.’

One of the new images from our online learning collection

People of colour make up 9.7 per cent of the total staff numbers at University of Edinburgh and suffer structural disadvantage in pay as we can see by looking at the gender pay gap. 

BME staff are more likely to report a culture of bullying, racial stereotyping and microaggression (Advance HE/Fook et al, 2019; Rollock 2019). We have held staff development sessions on:

We have also run Wikipedia events in Black History Month and in association with  UncoverEd. We have a representative ( Rachel) on the LTC task group on decolonising the curriculum and we have created OER specifically on that topic.  We have tasked our Equality Images Intern ( Francesca) to discover the stories of diverse staff groups in university history  and we sponsored student -led university events  organised by our interns Vicki, Gina and Dominique on topics of mental health and transexuality  which took intersectional approaches to understanding the experiences of UoE students.

Ongoing activities:

  • We take care not to organise all-staff events on major high days and holidays
  • Staff, mainly in User Services Directorate, attend cultural awareness training
  • We  take part in projects across libraries and collections and across the sector to explore the implications of decolonialising our  metadata and descriptions
  • We will name the next of our training rooms after David Pitt during Black HIstory Month 2019
  • We are meeting with Advance HE to explore how University of Edinburgh can be part of their race equality project:

    ‘Racial inequality is a significant issue in UK universities. It is evidenced by the BME attainment gap, the BME staff pay gap, and the lack of representation and promotion of BME staff . A number of UK universities have made strategic and public commitments to advancing race equality, but the sector has found consistent progress hard to come by.

    Advance HE/ECU has been actively working with the sector in Scotland on race equality since 2013 to promote conversations and initiatives on race equality with universities and colleges. In 2016, the Race Equality Charter was launched, and the Scottish Race Equality Network (SREN) first met. This project aims to support a group of Scottish universities to make significant and meaningful progress in developing strategic approaches to race equality, and in particular develop effective initiatives to support the recruitment and development of Black/BME staff. Improved staff representation, whilst being a key longer term outcome itself, is also a necessary condition for significant improvement in the Black/BME attainment gap.’

There seem to be some Scotland-specific challenge, Advance HE report that:

Scottish manifestations of race inequality in HE are under-explored. Intersectionality and differences between BME ethnicities are underexplored in the national sector literature, and may be different, and/or particularly relevant to the Scottish context. Positive action is under-utilised to drive strategic and institutional change, partly due to institutional conservatism, lack of expertise and lack of leadership.

wearable tech

lovely, generous people wearing lanyards and mics
Lovely, generous people wearing lanyards and mics. Pictures taken by Laura, no rights reserved by me.

The teams in LTW’s Learning Spaces Technology spend a lot of time thinking about how best to provide high quality AV services to a diverse university community across a very mixed estate.  We aim to ensure that our technology is universal and accessible to all and that the benefit we provide to the university is useful in enabling accessible and inclusive teaching.

We support 400 rooms and 30,000 hours of teaching every semester. We pride ourselves in providing high microphone quality across the University Estate, hence why we use high-tier quality Sennheiser models.  We upgrade and improve our services on a rolling basis. Whenever Sennheiser produce a smaller or lighter model or a new technology solution we check it out.  The current model that we provide in teaching rooms is easily worn on a lanyard ( as modelled). This makes it an ideal, gender neutral solution as it doesn’t require  a belt or pockets and works fine with any neckline or dress.

It has to be said, we’ve tried out some smaller, wireless mics around the place, but the quality just wasn’t good enough for the serivce we provide for learning and teaching but you can look forward to ‘flexible beamforming‘ from Sennheiser. We’ll be trialling this in the new spaces on campus and in Edinburgh Futures Institute building when it is ready.

what do older women want?

*work in progress*

My collection of workplace fans. Take what you need when you need it.

When talking about the lack of women in digital technology, the focus tends to be on engaging the interest of girls and supporting women to become qualified in relevant areas. Without change within the industry itself, however, the women who pursue digital technology qualifications will still not remain in or be attracted to the sector.

The ‘leaky pipeline’ is definitely a thing so we must  think about ways in which we can create a more inclusive and attractive work culture where women aspire to stay. Business-wise it make sense to retain valuable, experienced staff rather than having to train new staff.

Do we know what older women in the workplace want? do we ever ask them?

When we take an intersectional approach to recognising that people’s identities and social positions at work – particularly in the technology industry – are shaped by multiple and interconnected factors.   We have to pay attention to how long people have been working and where they are in their careers.

We are a big recruiter, with a high turnover and a lot of innovation, so we need to attract and retain talent. We advertise placements and returnerships via Equate Scotland.  We also need to explore how age and length of time in the organisation influence staff engagement.

RETAINING WOMEN IN WORK

In ISG we monitor the age profile of our staff, and because of course, we want to retain in our organisation, or in the sector as many women as we can, we invest in training and development including, personal development for women. We have a number of visible examples of Positive Action Measures which include:

  • Personal development programmes

We have coaching programmes and mentoring for women- we take part in the Aurora and Connections programmes and we run specific  ‘Renew You’ and ‘Speak up‘ personal development programmes for women.  The participants on these courses seem to find them valuable and so it seems like a good investment, but I don’t have any actual data for evaluating impact.

We have run sessions specifically about the impact that feminist mangers ( with Prof Fiona MacKay) can make and  about how promotions and annual reviews work. We have data on who gets sent on leadership programmes.

  • Raising awareness and widening discussions

We organise events and discussion on topics which raise awareness of gender issues in the workplace such as gendered communications, inclusive language, shared parental leave and menopause. Menopause is an intersectional issue of gender, health and age and it is an important issue for managers and service teams. For many women it is experienced as a double or triple whammy, coming as it does just at the time when your children are teenagers, your parents are elderly and you have just made it back from a career break.  We are figuring out how to promote a menopause -friendly workplace.

One of the first steps is to make sure everyone has access to fans to cool down.  The aim is to normalise and destigmatise the use of fans- but it has to be said this is not such a  great challenge as we work in one of the hottest buildings in Edinburgh!

The next step will be to gather some actual data about how many work days are lost because menopause symptoms go unreported and to think of ways to bring that number down.

  • High profile events  which make women visible

We do a lot of work to celebrate and support high profile ‘women in tech’ and ‘women in STEM’ activities. We organise events for Ada Lovelace Day, International Women’s Day and  we name our training rooms  and systems after inspirational women. The numbers of women who attend these events are growing, the Wikipedia activities particularly are getting pretty impressive .

We need to do more in really under-represented areas though, to think about how to involve more women in AV, VR, IoT and GIS.

  • Universal design in technology

There are moments in the workplace when you may suspect it has not been designed with you in mind. As a technology provider we can promote universal solutions ( such as how to wear a radio microphone pack with a dress) and disaggregate our data by gender and age where ever we can.

  • Recognise and rectify historical wrongs

Those of us who have been around for a while have heard the stories of historical wrongs. We can do things now to help our institutions to address some of that history , such as the degrees finally given to the Edinburgh Seven.

  • Professional  and skills development

I have anecdotal information that middle-aged women are the group least likely to attend ( or be chosen for) new skills training in tech. We are very aware that we have a large group of women who have already chosen to work in information services, who could develop skills more specifically in data science, so we have been running ‘Developing Your Data Skills’ Programme for staff and students at University of Edinburgh this year.

The programme has been very successful and we have now had more than 130 learners on course. It wasn’t targetted exclusively  at women, but we managed to attract 65 % women to participate. We have designed the course to fit with participants’ busy working lives and thought specifically about how to attract mid-career learners to upskill in this area. Since our staff live and work in Edinburgh and the region, I think this can be seen as part of the investment we are making in retraining and upskilling in data skills for the city. We have evaluated the programme and gathered feedback, so we will be able to report on the ISG KPIs.

  • Flexible working

We have pretty good flexible working arrangements and policies in ISG. It is not clear though whether they are consistently applied.

  • Developing male allies

We know that male allies are a big part of the success of any equality and diversity initiative. At ISG we have a Fathers Network which provides a space to discuss the experiences of the fathers in our teams who juggle work and family responsibilities. We are also working with CIPD to develop a new personal development course for men. This will focus on emotional intelligence at work and the challenges faced by men in managing workplace expectations in relation to their roles. It is important  to acknowledge some important intersections, and where men can see that they also face intersections of identity which may influence the experience of other men, then that can carry over to understanding what that may be for women.

 

What else should we be doing?

 

 

 

diversity and inclusion in libraries and collections

A cartoon in our archives showing Noreen Murray as a schoolgirl being reprimanded for making clones of herself in the laboratory (a reference to Noreen’s work cloning DNA)

Some interesting equality and diversity activities going on in our libraries and collections:

Equality and Diversity Images Internships

The Edinburgh Centre for Research Collections (CRC) has a student internship curating images from our collections that show gender, race and diversity with a view to having these images be used for promotion of the University courses, and as part of courses where they are relevant. The successful outcomes of this have been digitisation of materials, engaging blog posts which have narratives from the collections that raise the profile of resources and narratives in the collections to support work in the area.

Following on from this £10,000 was awarded from the Innovation Fund to engage student interns to look at images and narratives of equality, diversity and community to support Students Association campaigns and encourage student engagement. This will be undertaken in the first 6 months of 2019 and is supported by the Students Association executive.

We are recruiting student interns to work with identify real student stories over the generations, looking at community, equality and diversity. Paid work for Edinburgh students.

Project: Revealing and Expanding Diversity in our Library Collections

Interview with Prof. Altschul on The Student (Coll-1000) from University of Edinburgh Centre for Research Collections

In 2017-18 Library and University Collections teams worked with Students Association to organise two collection displays in the Main Library. A display in October 2017 celebrated Black History Month and in February 2018 a display celebrated LGBT+ History Month. A small number of additional books were purchased to contribute to the LGBT+ display and to increase the range of Library resources; the LGBT+ display also linked to a display in the Library’s CRC which highlighted first editions of books, signed letters, essays and other manuscripts related to W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood.

The Main Library Black History Month display in October 2018 included 41 new items purchased through the project budget, and the project budget also enabled the purchase of additional display units for the Main Library and the purchase of new display units for New College Library and ECA Library. Further displays in 2018-19 are planned to support the Students Association’s  four Liberation Campaigns (Black and Minority Ethnic – BME, Disabled Students, LGBT+ and Women). Students Association representatives and colleagues from across the University are involved in organising the displays, selecting resources for purchase and communicating the project to students. The displays have been popular with students, with display items being borrowed and students providing positive feedback to staff.

We ran a  ‘DiversithonWikipedia editing event to celebrate diversity in science and Scottish history for the Festival of Creative Learning and LGBT+ History Month 2019.

Women’s Collections Cataloguing

The Edinburgh Centre for Research Collections have had an intern for 8 weeks cataloguing the collection of Louisa Matilda Jane Crawford, a composer from the 19th century, to raise her profile and make the collection available for dissertations and study. The Centre hopes to do more of this type of project – the archive projects team have prioritised how women are described in collections and are reviewing best practice for future cataloguing

Resource Lists

The Libraries and University Collections (L&UC) have also been working with the Student Association’s LiberatEd project to highlight the functionality available to students to suggest new readings for their course resource lists.

UoE staff are invited to our joint workshop on Wed March 6th with EUSA VP of Education Diva Mukherji  on decolonising & diversifying the curriculum & how open educational resources can help. 

Feminist Art Collecting Strategy

In the past few years the Libraries and University Collections (L&UC) has adopted an equality strategy to balance the women artists represented in the University collections. They are actively working with the Principal to diversify the art seen in Old College. For example, of the works that have been collected since 2012, 54% are by female artists.  This has included noteworthy work by significant female artists as well as works that deal with gender representation and diversity concerns.

The Contemporary Art Research Collection

The Contemporary Art Research Collection, established in 2016, is the newest art collection at the University and is the most significant area of activity in the diversification of the collection. The Collection is linked to the research of colleagues in History of Art. Their research and teaching area concerns feminism within the structures of Globalisation. This collection actively redresses the gender imbalance as well as the prevailing geographic focus on Western Europe and therefore enable us to broach new territories in terms of space, media and practice. The works acquired thus far highlight the major concerns of our times and the issues that affect women in particular – for example sex workers rights, care work and housing.

Diversifying display

This gender and diversity bias in the Collection is perhaps highlighted most evidently within the Portrait Collection. The majority of portraits in the collection do not date from the contemporary period and therefore there is an overwhelming imbalance of representation – a recent estimate suggested that approximately 5% of artworks were by female artist or female sitter. This is no more obvious than in the display of works in historical parts of the University like Old College. On the request of the principal, over the last few months work has been carried out internally on how best to rehang Old College to better reflect both the history and diversity of the University community in our displays. This will be an ongoing, long term project.

Vote 100

A pop up exhibition opened in the Main University Library in November 2018, telling the story of how some of the University’s first female graduates pushed the agenda forward for equal enfranchisement in the UK. The exhibition focuses on when Chrystal Macmillan, Frances Simson and Frances Nairn took the fight to the House of Lords in November 1908. Chrystal Macmillan and Frances Simson became the first women to speak in the House of Lords. The exhibition was opened by Diva , Students Association Vice President for Education, who spoke about how inspiring the women were for students today, showing that students had fought for their rights and for equality.

As a result of this project L&UC are helping  RAG week reps with hosting Helen Pankhurst to come and speak in March 2019.

New Internship for Equality, Diversity and Gender in Archive Catalogues

This project will look at the University of Edinburgh’s archive catalogues to explore the description, language and surfacing of women, cultures, communities and diverse groups in these catalogues. Many of the catalogues have been inherited over centuries of collecting, meaning that women and minority groups are often misrepresented or simply missing altogether from the catalogues. This project will require the business school students to analyse our data and explore the issues and problems, coming up with ideas to make them more diverse and inclusive using qualitative and quantities methodologies.

International Women’s Day 2019

how to win

Christmas Card sold at The Bodleian Shop, with an image from the John Johnson Collection. Copyright belongs to Bodleian, I’m sure.

This year has been quite a one for my work with the PlayFair Steps. The PlayFair Steps is the name I have given to the programme of activities in University of Edinburgh Information Services Group which are designed to deliver an improved experience for all our staff by tackling equality and diversity issues in our workplace. I began this initiative in 2015 and it is part of a wider change programme across the whole of the organisation.

After 3 years we are seeing impact and progress towards our goals. We have also been  successful in winning a number of awards.

When looking at equality and diversity drivers for change in organisations, there is some literature which suggests that external accountability , the impression the public have about your organisation, is a consideration that may influence senior management.  So if you can show that your activities have gained external recognition, won awards or been celebrated by your peers,  more investment by senior management may follow.   It’s not an exact science but as employers we are all very aware that the tech industry has a bad reputation for diversity and inclusion.

Students of organisational development will be well aware of the importance of context, culture and ‘climate’ in enabling the success of workplace diversity programmes.  With this in mind I worked with my teams to write applications for various employer awards last year in the hope that we would be nominated and shortlisted.

Our first success came as winners of the national Universities 2018 HR Excellence Award for Equality and Diversity *.

Winning this award in the HE sector boosted my confidence to try for 2 more awards in the wider tech sector. Alongside rapid growth a new and urgent interest in diversity can be seen by the appearance of industry awards and celebrations.  Targeted trade sector  and community events such as awards provide the opportunity for HR practitioners in organisations to gain external acknowledgement and assessment of their organisational efforts and commitment to diversity .  But its a hotly contested area. Organisations which promote diversity may benefit by being more attractive to women and ethnic minorities and those employers may be able to recruit from a larger talent pool, so the big recruiters are keen not to miss out and are pulling out all the stops.

In October and December we were finalists in the ‘Employer of the Year’ category in the Scotland Women in Technology Awards  in Glasgow and for ‘Diversity Project of The Year’  in the Women in IT Excellence Awards in London. At both events I was very pleased to be able to host a table at the awards dinner and to invite colleagues and friends to join our celebrations. In Glasgow each of the  4 female University of Edinburgh Directors of IT invited as our guests women in our organisations who we identify as rising stars for the future. In London we were joined by friends from ALT, WikimediaUK, Open University, EDINA, Ordnance Survey and Wellcome Library. A lovely, sparkly time was had by all and it was exciting to be part of such celebratory events. In both cases however, we were pipped at the post by big recruiters such as JPMorgan and Empiric, both of whom have huge recruitment and marketing efforts targeted at women in IT.

The  awards create a climate in which organisations compete to showcase themselves as diversity-aware recruiters and attractive employers for a range of groups. While such awards may also be dismissed as window dressing or worse, validation of insidious work practices, the investment being made by some large tech industry employers is undeniable.  The rise of business awards which bring external recognition and validation to organisations’ visible efforts towards diversity is framed in the language of inclusive growth, improved competitive performance and better targeted services. It may be time for university IT departments to up our game if we are going to be able to attract the best talent to improve our services.

Perhaps we should work together as a sector to do this. One way we could do this would be to return again to the knotty problem of what IT careers look like in HE, and indeed what learning technologists look like.  We should ask ourselves: ‘If you as an employer, had to take a bunch of recruitment materials to a recruitment fair what would you say to  attract the best, brightest and most diverse talent to join our professional teams?’.

 

 

*Dominique and I will be showcasing our award-winning programme next in London on 28th February.  The event is hosted by UHR  and is an opportunity to hear from other HE organisations about how their teams have improved practice, contributed to business efficiency, and enhanced organisational effectiveness and staff engagement.  Book your place now.

 

widening participation and access

Photo of WoW leaflets from my mothers cupboards. No rights reserved by me.

This week I’m at the Advance HE conference in Liverpool. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the University of Edinburgh ‘s new Widening Participation strategy is being launched.

University of Edinburgh actually has a long history of widening participation initiatives, but our institutional memory does seem to get lost along the way. Luckily we have splendid university archives.

I’m inordinately delighted to have found a place for both my parents in the University archives.  My father, previously mentioned, and now featured in a group picture of the front of a new book, and my mother Joanna*, in a blog post about Widening Opportunities for Women, the WOW courses of the 1980s.

The WOW programme was aimed at women planning to return to work –most often after pregnancy and years of domestic ‘employment’–, and sought to provide training opportunities as well as guidance over how to approach the job market, what type of opportunities might be available, and what obstacles may be encountered.’

Joanna first attended this programme, after having been stuck at home  with us lot for many years, and then she became the course leader.  I used to visit her in her office in a basement in Buccleuch Place. She’s very pleased to know that in my role in ISG I’ve been able to find places for ‘women returners‘ in our organisation.

After ‘WOW ‘and ‘Second Chance to Learn’,  and ‘Return to Work or Study’, she then led for many years the University of Edinburgh Access Programme  for part-time adult learners who wished to return to education to study humanities, social sciences or art and design.

Nice to see these things coming around again.

 

*just a note to say lest you be concerned, that although I found my father in the archives after his death, my mother is still very much alive.

as others see us

Graphic design from ISG BITS magazine

When looking at equality and diversity drivers for change in organisations, there is some literature which suggests that external accountability , the impression the public have about your organisation, or investor or client pressure, may be a consideration for  senior management. There may be concern for reputational damage with the wider business and society, and this risk could be mitigated for instance by the company’s success in winning a prize for gender equality .

Following our recent success as winners of the national Universities HR Excellence Award for Equality and Diversity, Information Services Group is now shortlisted as a finalist for 2 further awards.

We are finalists in the ‘Employer of the Year’ category in the Scotland Women in Technology Awards 2018 to be announced on Wednesday 24th October 2018 in Glasgow and for ‘Diversity Project of The Year’  in the Women in IT Excellence Awards taking place on 27 November at Finsbury Square, London.

Equality and diversity in IT and libraries

BITS magazine artwork by Annie Adam, Graphic Design Intern

As our regular readers across the University will know, each issue of the Information Services Group BITS magazine has a theme. In this issue we have looked across all of our projects and services to highlight the ways in which we contribute to supporting the University values around equality, equity, inclusion and access.

https://edin.ac/bits-21

As usual, our feature article showcases work across each of our groups and directorates which support learning, teaching, research and engagement.

Working within such a large institution, we are able to attract a wide range  of staff to work with us in ISG. The richest source of new colleagues is our student community. Each year ISG hosts a large number of student workers and student interns. They bring fresh ideas and new thinking to our services. This issue of BITS magazine is designed by our Graphic Design Intern working alongside our established team.

When we did our gender survey staff told us that making equality real involved everyone. For this issue of BITS we asked staff to think about  how their understanding of equality and diversity feeds into their day to day work.  We got a lot of article submissions from across the organisation.  It’s actually pretty impressive, and is a clear representation that equality and diversity, openness and accessibility are part of our values as an organisation.  Many organisations are now choosing to recognise Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) expertise as a significant area of  valuable knowledge which contributes to the business advantage and has a direct and significant positive impact on reputation.

Our back page features some of the many events that staff in ISG contribute to at the Edinburgh festivals over the summer. I hope you will be able to engage with and  enjoy them.

If you would like to know more about any of the projects described in this magazine, or about the ways we aim to embed equality and diversity expertise which has a direct and significant positive impact on our organisation, please keep up to date with our celebrations and news via our websites, social media and events across the University.

employing students

SEOTY

Delighted that we have been awarded prizes for our student employees AND as an excellent employer  in the Student Employee of the Year Awards.

Here’s the student testimonial which won us our Employer award:

Why have you nominated this person/company for Student Employer of the Year? Tell us why you think this employer is exceptional. Suggested areas of excellence: offers excellent experience and advice; opportunities to learn; understands study commitments; contributions to studies.

The Information Services Group (ISG) at the University of Edinburgh is a brilliantly dynamic place to work as a student. The company offers a large variety of part-time jobs which are designed for only one day a week so you can easily combine work with your studies. While you might assume that most of the jobs would be in IT, ISG actually offers a huge range of roles, providing exceptional means to develop digital skills even if you are studying something completely different for your university degree. For instance, there are jobs in copyrighting, media production, customer services, archives and libraries, communications, web development, event management and IT training. The jobs are designed to fit with the kind of skills students might already possess and you really get the impression that the organisation values the skills and insights that we bring to the table from our varied studies and experiences. 

ISG has a specific scheme to increase the number of University of Edinburgh students they employ. They understand that having work experience during your studies is a big part of being employable and getting a job when you finish your degree. They employ undergraduates, taught postgraduates and research-based PhD students like myself in various roles, but I don’t think many students realise the sheer range of opportunities available at ISG. All jobs are advertised on the University Careers website, MyCareerHub, and there is a student employment officer in the HR team who works tirelessly to ensure that all student workers come away with a fantastic experience. The ISG team are continually thinking about digital ways to enhance the profile of student employment. All student workers are encouraged to think about developing their own profiles on LinkedIn and describing the skills they are learning. This has also greatly enhanced ISG’s brand presence on LinkedIn as an employer that focusses on the student work experience while creating a digital network for student employees as well. Some managers in ISG even write recommendations on LinkedIn for their student employees when they reach the end of their contracts and these references can then also be used as evidence of the work experience each student has undertaken.

Please provide a specific example of a time when this employer has provided exceptional support understanding or opportunities to development. Give evidence of the qualities and characteristics listed above.

I have been working in ISG as their digital recruitment and marketing intern for the past year and a half. My own PhD research, however, is in English Literature, so I am bringing my writing and analytical skills to benefit the organisation in improving the style and language used to communicate job adverts and digital marketing content. One of the unexpected opportunities I have found in this work is learning much more about equality and diversity issues than I ever thought I would in an IT-based role.

Since IT is a competitive and heavily male-dominated sector, however, ISG are particularly keen to attract more diverse applicants for their workforce. They are keenly interested in attracting women and young people into STEM careers, for example, and work very hard to ensure an open atmosphere with equal opportunities for all. There is an extensive programme of equality and diversity activity within the organisation, and a particular focus on making female role models visible. A series of workshops called the PlayFair Steps have been especially crucial in highlighting the equality and diversity issues that still exist within our organisation and the steps we must take in order to mitigate these issues. Through these workshops, I have learned much about implicit bias, especially in terms of gendered recruitment language, and am now much more mindful of the ways in which I formulate my own writing here in my role at ISG, as well as in my PhD research and daily life.

This year, I have been working with staff across the organisation, alongside another student who works in the equality and diversity project, to source and write profiles of women working in STEM roles in ISG and to promote these profiles online, where a wide range of people can then learn about the diversity of the careers and the people in the organisation. I’ve been given the opportunity to plan and lead my own work on these case studies and it has been extremely eye-opening to learn about the many issues that shape women’s careers in STEM and beyond. These are invaluable insights which have given me an opportunity to think extensively about careers and employment beyond university.