Tag: diversity

Dangerous women

contents page of the book
cover of the book

I am very chuffed to see the publication of this book. Please buy it for all your friends.

It’s been a long time coming. In it I explain why dangerous women edit Wikipedia.

The book is a collection of fifty reflections on power and identity.   The delay has meant that it has arrived at just the time I am reflecting on my power and identity as well as  on being fifty.

I am especially chuffed to find that I am on the first page of contents, on the same page as the First Minister.  I doubt there’s any specific power which flows from that proximity, but it is nice to be identified as a dangerous women alongside so many others.

I’ll be presenting again, on International Women’s Day. This time I’ll be in the online line-up up at University of Highlands and Islands.

 

Over a year of hybrid working: What the data tells us (about women)

overflowing with good data

I was very pleased to be able to deliver this conference workshop with Lilinaz as a pre-conference workshop for UCISA’s Women in Tech Group Conference in October.

It is another of the UCISA CPD sessions and builds on data we collected last year about demographic differences in lockdown

At the University of Edinburgh, we conducted University-wide surveys in 2020 and 2021 to understand people’s experiences of homeworking, taking into account their demographic differences. This gave us a rich data set from which to understand the experiences of women in IT during the pandemic. This presentation focuses on what we learned, and takes an intersectional approach to how different aspects of jobs were affected by off-campus working. The presentation takes an EDI perspective, discusses if and how different groups had different experiences, and how these differences can be taken into account when developing policies for hybrid working in the future. The session was a presentation of findings, and a discussion of how the findings are being used to develop policies. The content is interesting as it is evidence-based, using data over two years. In some instances, it was interesting to see the change of attitude from 2020 to 2021, while in some instances, settling into home working did not affect people’s opinions. The surveys took into account 19 demographic variables and it was interesting for the audience how these variables affected home working.

The session was well received and we experimented with new functionality in Teams, allowing participants to move through the slides at their own pace while we talked.  This seems like a good way to allow participants to engage with quite a large set of data in the areas which interest them specifically.  It’s nice to get nice feedback on the way we delivered the session as well as the content.

What did you enjoy the most?
seeing results of real world research and being able to discuss this in the chat with others
The easy going, friendly nature of the event & the great use of technology for interaction
Better understanding the experience of other HE colleagues
The fact that they are willing to share the data with us and that everyone is in the same boat with hybrid working
all parts were interesting
the presentation style and learning from other colleagues
Hearing about others experiences
The interactive nature of the session. The way we could move to the slide we wanted to.
The insights and the way that they were presented. Very good, open, friendly presenters. Willing to expand on areas that people asked about. Very interactive and stimulating.
Clear and engaging content that was immediately relevant and thought-provoking. Presentation balanced context and “take-aways” very evenly. The session seemed to fly past, and I ended up with a lot of notes to go back over.
Everyone was participating in the conversation.
The way that the chat had equal value with the slides. I thought asking a question and then getting people to put responses in the chat worked really well.
Seeing old friends and learning how much data there is to support our real experience of working from home
The survey findings presented
I thought being able to look through the presentation at our own speed was amazing. Really useful. I thought the speakers were great, really clear and excellent insights from the data. Also loved how open this was – wouldn’t have thought this kind of event would go beyond the institution doing the research (I know that’s the point haha) but just a great event to be able to attend and ask questions.
The very active chat
Excellent presentation in a novel format
It was good to hear that other HEIs have had the same experiences.
This was a very valuable and interesting insight into responses to the recent situation, and a very comprehensive set of data presented.
Great work by the presenters and very interesting data. Wish we had more time to delve into the data detail
It was really informative – lots of information – but also a bit of fun too. Really good that the slides are available post session too so that we can look at our leisure.
The sharing of the data and invitation to join, share questions and share data really underlined the collaborative value of ucisa. Currently ucisa is my best value network, and the webinars are always worth attending.
This is definitely a “top ucisa sessions to attend” (I’ve attended lots!) and I will be recommending it, and the conference next week, to colleagues.
Time went really quickly (i.e. it didn’t drag). The atmosphere was very light and friendly. Felt very positive to be in a meeting led by all women (rare in my experience at UoM ITS).
a two hour session is quite good with time before to check in work and then get on with the day – thank you so much!
More events like this please!
Really engaging!

A recording is available from UCISA if you are a member, or Lilinaz and I are available to deliver it again if you would like to invite us.

the risky business of equality

One of the striking findings in my research was that there was a mismatch between the answers from the ‘digital leaders’ and the answers from the ‘HR professionals’.  Everyone thought there  definately were risks, but the HR professional thought there were none.  If this is true more widely it would go some way to explain why HR professionals are surprised not to be able to get senior managers involved in championing issues. They have not considered the risks to us in doing so.

“In order to further understand the factors which may act as contextual cues for digital leaders in their decisions to champion equality and diversity in the workplace participants were asked to what extent they feel there may be associated risks for those who do take on champion roles. In the interviews participants were making sense of their context and reflecting on how they have seen what has happened in their own experience and those around them.   

‘Critical sense making’ describes the ways in which  individuals make sense of their own local environments  while acknowledging power relations in the broader societal context (Mills, 2010). Part of sense-making is judging the level of risk which might follow specific course of action in your context (Weick, 1995).

Individuals make judgements to appraise threats and risks as part of their own decision making. These judgments are based on perceived or real risks and these risks are plausible because they resonate closely with one’s own experience, or the known experience of others nearby. In their previous answers respondents had clearly identified a range of business drivers which exist in their organisations. They had also identified a number of cultural and organisational elements, which they understood as creating a climate in which equality, and diversity was supported by organisational policy.

Participants all appeared to agree with a general perception that equality and diversity issues were larger than the individual, and understood the role of workplace culture in which dignity, respect and fair pay is valued. Given these findings it might be expected that they would perceive championing these issues as relatively low risk. 

All respondents but one however, were adamant there were associated risks for some people in getting involved with equality and diversity issues in the workplace. The response that there was no perceived risk, or that there should be no risk, came from the interviewee who is the senior HR professional. This mis-match in expectation was analysed further and respondents answers were analysed to identify themes around risk. These include:  risks to oneself (personal risks of image, reputation, how one might be perceived by others personally), professional risks (how one might risk or lose effectiveness in a professional role), risks to the business, and risks to the wider endeavour of equality itself.  The prominence of the discussion of risk in the data makes it worth discussing these findings in detail.”

I have continued to test this finding informally with further groups.  I have been lucky to be able to get gigs doing CPD workshops and conference workshops in February and March.

The first one I did was for senior IT professionals in FE and HE.  I asked the question ‘Do you think there are risks associated for some people in championing equality and diversity issues in the workplace’? I asked for responses in chat : Yes, no, maybe, not sure, some ….. etc

Not everyone chose to answer obviously, but

Yes: Maybe was 3:1   No noes.

I asked the same question again in a session at the Advance HE conference. The session was recorded so I plan to look at the chat if it was recorded too, but this was a group of HR professionals and I saw at least one ‘No, not any more’

At The ALT ( learning technologists) session

YES: maybe was 5:2

with the living voice

In completing a reflective portfolio for my doctorate  i have had to demonstrate the link between the theory I have read, the study I have done and my ongoing professional role in a rapidly changing, but under-researched area. Theory and practice are definitely intertwined for me as everything I have done has fed directly back into my practice and I have brought my experience of practice over many years to the analysis I have done. This record of my journey as a scholarly practitioner has given me insights and helped me to learn from my experience. My own reflexivity and commitment to  a feminist research ethic form a key part of my justification of the level that has been reached in my doctorate.

Doing the work has had impact on my ongoing practice in several ways. It has provided a framework and structure for me to engage with some thinking I needed to be doing in my own role to combine digital leadership and diversity leadership. One of the findings in my data was that digital leaders have very little ‘bandwidth’ available to engage with EDI issues in any nuanced way, over and above their day jobs. This would have been equally true for me had I not set aside this time to engage with the research.   My practice is undoubtedly now more research informed, and I hope better as a result.

Doing an up to date literature review  has also given me the confidence and credibility to talk about EDI issues in professional fora. Previously I would have been drawing only on my own experience and opinions whereas now I am able to reference more published evidence which is academically credible rather than the management consultancy reports from Gartner, PWC etc. which flood my inbox. Engaging with feminist research philosophy has helped me to think about what the elements of feminist practice can be, and has served to make me more able to engage with my academic colleagues who write about being a feminist manager.

One of the recurring themes which appeared in the literature I was reading was the importance of data driven decision-making in organisations.   In my professional role I continue to engage surveys and gather data about university IT staff experiences. I have a data researcher who works with me. In the period we have done 2 large surveys; one on workplace experiences of EDI and another on EDI elements of working from home during Covid lockdown. These surveys provide data which will be the basis of  management decision making in my organisation as we move forward. While these new surveys  ensure that I will continue to present, contribute to and practice leadership in digital and diversity leadership. I will disseminate those findings to the sector, applying what I have learned from my time as a research student  in years to come.

When I began my thesis there was relatively little published research looking at the experiences of managers in professional groups in higher education and even fewer looking specifically at university IT departments. In the course of the 3 years there is now a bit more published research about professional staff including a 2018 book which explores a range of aspects of working in universities  but still very little about the group of which I am part – those with specific digital leadership  roles, or my specific area of investigation – managers’ experiences of equality, diversity and inclusion. It is precisely in this area that this study has attempted to fill an important lacuna in practitioner research.  The other researchers working in this area have similarly highlighted that this area is a gap, and this serves to make my study even more timely, relevant and of interest to the sector.

In their 2018 book ‘Professional and Support Staff in Higher Education’ the authors note the absence of input from any digital, HR or IT professionals and suggest that  there is more work to be done in integrating the contribution of these groups to leadership and to scholarship.

“we (as contributors, colleagues, and more broadly as institutions) must take some deliberate steps to promote greater inclusion amongst authors contributing to research regarding professional and support staff, especially those who do not currently see themselves as part of the scholarly conversation. Professional and support staff within higher education are diverse, their roles multifaceted, and their contribution and experiences under-examined.”(Bossu, Brown, & Warren, 2018, p. 460)

The findings of this study may also be of particular interest or usefulness to practitioners and researchers working in universities who are interested in understanding how colleagues in professional roles relate to their larger organisation when they think about leadership of equality, diversity and inclusion.

next slide please

Playground. Linda Gillard (c) University of Edinburgh Digital Image Collections CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 ECA Collection

You’ll remember that we have been working on equality, diversity  and inclusion (EDI) issues in ISG for some time.

Directors have now agreed that this work should continue. Which is full credit to many ISG colleagues who have been involved and given their time to supporting this work and organising events. I was very lucky to have a student intern (Dominique) working with me over several years and now to have an Equality and Data officer (Lilinaz)  for the next two years. This has given us the resource and time to really engage with our research. We have carried out 2 E&D surveys in ISG. One in 2015 and one in 2019. Both surveys led directly to recommendations for action.

You can read a report of the 2019 survey findings:

EDI ISGReport Summary Report 2020

Recommendations for EDI development in ISG for the next 2-5 years are drawn from staff feedback gathered from workshop participants, research literature and from interpretations of data gathered from ISG staff.

Here are some of the things we aim to do:

Quick top ten:

  1. Continue PlayFair Steps EDI initiatives which address the interpersonal aspects of intergroup relations, tacking issues of stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination.
  2. Combine data informed decision-making with qualitative and social science informed research to ensure that we make the best decisions for ISG.
  3. Seek and listen to the opinions and experiences of the minority groups in our organisation such as black and ethnic minority colleagues to better understand their experiences which may be hidden by statistical analysis grouping of data.
  4. Collect and analyse the data relating to EDI practices in ISG so we can track differences in career progression, pay, and promotions.
  5. Understand and address the gender and race pay gaps in ISG where they exist.
  6. Address the inequality that women and ethnic minority colleagues in ISG are more likely to be in low-paid, part-time and fixed-term roles.
  7. Proactively attempt to attract and retain a staff to reflect the diversity of the university. If that is not possible, we should at least aim to reflect the demographics of the region in which we live.
  8. Identify, support and reward the c40 staff who are developing as leaders in EDI, reflecting the value of this area of leadership in the organisation.
  9. Continue to engage directly with communities to show commitment to improving the lot of historically disadvantaged groups. Whether that be ‘women in tech’, disabled people or other minority groups.
  10. Monitor EDI impact of all our post-COVID19 recovery work with the knowledge that economic recovery is unlikely to be evenly spread.
Longer list:

EDI development

  • Market and promote sessions to encourage those who would not normally attend. Each session should clearly explain why it is taking place and what the benefits of attending are.
  • Provide context for EDI practices in addition to providing a snapshot of ISG as a workplace that can be presented to staff members. It serves to fill in a knowledge gap for staff members in why attending EDI sessions are recommended.
  • Help staff to connect the importance of having a good understanding of EDI to their roles and success as leaders and team managers.
  • Help staff to connect the importance of having a good understanding of EDI to their roles and success as service providers.
  • Develop case studies of teams, projects or services where ISG seems to benefit from ‘diversity advantage’.

Develop Networks

  • Do further research into the value of identity group networks and ‘allies’ in ISG.

Make time to attend

  • Managers should ensure that they make it possible for colleagues to attend EDI sessions.

Attend to Recruitment

  • Collect data on student employees, as anecdotal evidence suggests a more diverse group of students take up these positions, increasing the diversity within ISG. Knowing more about this demographic could inform hiring practices and the future of student employment within ISG (e.g. designing permanent roles that would follow internships).

Develop teams and leadership

  • Ensure that the growing group of ISG staff in the 16-24 age group are supported to develop, and that all managers are aware of the EDI issues inherent in cross-generational team working.
  • Encourage sharing of practice between directorates to address how staff participation in EDI activities can be supported and encouraged by managers.

equality, diversity and inclusion issues to consider

Dominique and me presenting and representing in London about EDI.

There is a risk that when we change things at speed some of the gains we have made previously get lost, reversed or return to ‘business as usual’. Business as usual was not particularly equal, diverse or inclusive at the best of times. This could be an opportunity to establish a new normal which would impact a lot of people.

The protected characteristics under the Equality Act are: · Age · Disability · race (including ethnicity and nationality) · religion or belief · sex · sexual orientation · gender reassignment · pregnancy and maternity · marriage or civil partnership.

There are likely to be particular issues for how we support both students and staff with protected characteristics when we move to new modes for large numbers of students.

By way of example, issues to consider might include:

  • Students with physical disabilities may be unable to take part at all in on campus activities due to health risks from covid19 and have to access all services and carry out all transactions remotely
  • Designing one way systems and new routes through the campus is going to involve using a bunch more doors, which may not be fully accessible.
  • Students with mental health issues may need more support if their conditions are exacerbated by social distancing / lockdown / covid19 worries
  • BAME students and staff, and older students and staff, may need greater protection or targeted advice as BAME and older people appear to be higher risk groups
  • Students and staff may be subject to harassment or abuse during the covid19 pandemic as a result of their faith or ethnicity
  • The nature and responses to harassment, bullying and abuse online is different from face to face and is particularly experienced by women, BAME, disabled, LGBT+ staff and students
  • Staff and students with young children may be unable to work on campus at all or may only be able to do for limited periods, due to childcare obligations
  • Caring, pastoral support and mental health support work, traditionally has been done disproportionately by women.
  • Students working from home in countries with restrictive regimes may experience online environments differently than those not.
  • Students living areas of social deprivation  or low connectivity may have limited or different access to technology.
  • Students with disabilities are easily excluded for accessing learning if care is not taken to ensure that learning materials and activities are accessible.
  • Staff with disabilities are easily excluded for accessing  online meetings and events if care is not taken to ensure that closed captions and text chat are accessible.
  • The images, reading lists, case studies and examples used in the curriculum may not be chosen with care to represent the diverse student body.

Any more? Many more?

Award winning ‘Attraction and Resourcing’

Satu, Kevin, Jeanette and me with our award which weighs a ton.

We are delighted to win the Scottish HR Network Magazine  Attraction & Resourcing Award of the Year 2019

Executive Summary:

The University of Edinburgh is committed to providing employment opportunities for Edinburgh students. The student workers in our organisation transform the culture, bring new viewpoints and diversity to our teams and provide unique student perspectives on our services to help us improve. Increasing the number of students who work in our organisation is part of our strategic ambitions and a vital part of enabling the University effectively to meet future challenges.

For the last 4 years we have had specific programmes in place to recruit and support students into our data, digital and IT jobs as interns over the summer and as part time workers throughout the year. Students work in our organisation in a wide range of roles including: as web developers, IT trainers, media producers, project support officers, help desk staff, graphic designers, AV fit-out technicians, data analysts and learning technologists. We aim to develop a strong and vibrant community of young staff who are supported, valued, developed and engaged.

Students are also the main consumers of our services. By employing them to work on projects that affect them we benefit from a rich source of productivity and innovation to help shape and improve these services.

The work on this initiative is ongoing and growing. Team managers are finding opportunities to attract and work with students across more and more projects.  They say:

“It started with a single summer internship analysing some data from our MOOC courses. Since then we’ve had summer interns developing media migration tools, capturing case studies on how media is used, assessing chat bots and where they could fit into our work, and helping with the roll out of lecture recording. This year we also had a team of around 30 students working with us over the start of term to support lecture recording use in large teaching spaces.”

“Personally I loved the experience of working with students again, and in a brand new area of IT support. I find their enthusiasm for the role and energy is infectious and I’m always looking for ways to challenge them and help them grow in the role”’

The work we have done at Edinburgh University is easily transferable to other institutions and there is a sector imperative now to build and grow talent in organisations. The competition for new graduates is fierce and the investment in students now yields return for the future. Students bring a new diversity to our workforce and contribute to a change in workplace culture enhancing our ways of working across intergenerational teams.

Our CIO has set a target within the Strategic Plan to employ at least 500 students over the course of each academic year.

Supporting Evidence

  1. Evidence of a particular recruitment project that has impacted positively on the organisation including evidence of the planning, delivery, evaluation and return on investment

University of Edinburgh HR colleagues have planned and delivered more than 300 employment opportunities so far this year as part of this project. Because we are responsible for all the digital services across libraries, IT, learning technologies and study spaces in the university we are in a perfect position to offer flexible, 21st Century skills employment to our students.

The impact on our organisation can be seen several ways:

  • The experience we are gaining in developing our scheme in response to feedback from our student workers has led to improvement in practice. We have a staff network for interns and managers to share experiences and learning.
  • Our projects and services improve as a result of the skills, creativity, input and ideas brought by the students.
  • Our understanding of our users is improved by the perspective that our students bring to the workplace. Their outside perspective is useful in terms of challenging and broadening our thinking.
  • Our student workers are now a growing group of ‘Alumni’ who have worked with us and may promote or choose our organisation in the future.
  • Some of our student workers are now returners who return to work with us each year in different roles.
  1. Demonstrate the positive outcomes in planning for future skills and abilities being assessed and delivered

Positive outcomes can be seen in the work being done to generate a sustainable pipeline of talent. Giving individuals the platform they need to excel is critical to our long-term success and also helps us make a vital contribution to our community.  Providing work experience and supporting employability empowers our students, which we hope we may benefit from in the future.

We support a positive employment experience for our student workers and encourage them to create LinkedIn profiles to evidence their skills and to engage with their peers through promotional videos and blogging about their work experience. Every student who works with us should leave able to describe an experience of working in a professional environment, on a meaningful project, with real responsibilities, and have a good non-academic referee to add to their CV.

Students can also complete an ‘Edinburgh Award’ – a wrap-around reflective learning framework that helps students to articulate their work experience. We can measure the impact of our student employment initiatives through the ways in which the students reflect on the value of their experience.

The cohort have also become a loyal group of workers who identify us as their employer of choice.

  1. Evidence that the recruitment & selection process contributes to overall effectiveness of the talent strategy

The University is one of the largest local employers, covering multiple sectors and job roles. The University of Edinburgh has a Youth and Student Employment Strategy 2017–2021, which presents our whole-institution approach to employability skills.

The University is committed to long-term goals in creating, promoting and delivering opportunities that enhance the employability of our students.  The University recognises the shortage of highly skilled data, digital and IT workers and is therefore safeguarding for the future and building a sustainable talent pipeline, which addresses current and future skills requirements. In addition, this gives our students the platform they need to excel, which is critical to our long-term success, our competitive advantage and also helps us make a vital contribution to our community. This is particularly important for sectors with national skills shortages such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and this is an opportunity to ‘grow our own’ in these areas.

The National Student Survey (NSS) and Edinburgh Student Experience Survey (ESES) results have highlighted areas for improvement in recent years. Developing more student employment opportunities is one way to improve the student experience and expands the employment prospects of our graduates.

  1. Evidence of the organisations commitment to diversity and assessment of skills to ensure organisation performance and culture fit

Universities are well placed to employ students in flexible ways, but often we assume that these will be in fairly low skill jobs in our shops, bars and residences. In exploring digital, library and IT opportunities we have opened up a variety of roles and reaped the benefit of a vibrant new group of staff with new ideas for our organisation.  Our students are amongst the best and brightest in the world. We are lucky to have a pool of such talent and creativity available to us.

As an employer within a university we are afforded unique opportunities to engage our student body, including delivering learning technologies used in curriculum, improving their study spaces and access to research.

Students are sensitive to image and want to work for organisations that wear their ‘inclusivity-heart’ on their sleeve, so we have promoted a cultures of equality and diversity, as part of our change agenda, to ensure that our reps on campus reflect these values.

By empowering our students they become champions and ambassadors for our work, which brings business benefits as we strive to roll-out new technologies and the cultural changes associated with these different ways of working.

  1. Evidence of effective interview techniques and the role of induction offered to new employees

To identify and attract the best candidates and provide a positive experience for both interviewers and interviewees, ISG supports and promotes best practice in our recruitment processes.  We think about how we can:

  • Be targeted: writing tailored questions for different audiences is time-consuming, but really effective.
  • Be distinctive: with so many opportunities out there, be clear about what makes your organisation different.
  • Be aware: of your own non-verbal communication and unconscious bias.

We want each student to get the most out of their employment experience with us, so as part of our induction process, we have collaborated with our Careers Service and HR colleagues to create a ‘digital student guidebook’.

To help line managers and staff support these groups, we’ve developed ISG ‘student experience’ resources, as well as collated a list of useful tools and platforms to enhance professional development and support students balancing employment alongside their studies.

In addition, we run ‘career insight’ sessions, to get staff talking about their career/role (what a typical ‘day in the life of’ looks like, how they got here etc.) with the objective that it will provide new employees with an understanding of the diverse range of careers available and create a space for them to ask questions.

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 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?