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.
‘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.
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 .
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 on27 November at Finsbury Square, London.
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.
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.
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.
I am delighted to say that the PlayFair Steps equality and diversity initiatives in Information Services Group at University of Edinburgh have been recognised as excellent by the judges at the recent Universities Human Resources awards.
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. After two years this work is now able to show positive impact and report on metrics for improvement and use data driven decision-making for management practice. The work brings us ‘diversity advantage’. Diversity advantage can be seen as the positive consequences which accrue to a business through diversity and inclusivity practices in the workplace.
Increasingly EDI work in organisations can be seen as having a focus on:
improve the use of data in driving future developments
a greater priority on communications
more effective evaluation of policies and interventions
a focus on ‘what works’ underpinned by a robust and systematic use of the evidence.
My work in ISG EDI is seen through leadership in innovative practice to recruit staff, develop colleagues’ understanding of intersectionality and embed EDI into student employability programmes. I proactively recognise and reward staff with EDI expertise in my own teams. As well as identifying key people within the organisation to lead events in specific areas there are now 3 university of Edinburgh PhD students working as interns in ISG with specific remit to bring their academic expertise in gender studies and inclusion to contribute to our work. We have a Gender Equality Intern ( Dominique) and Digital Marketing and Recruitment intern ( Vicki) and an Equality Images Intern ( Francesca) These interns join my growing team (including our Wikimedian in Residence) to ensure that EDI in ISG is visible and celebrated. The three interns work on EDI plans and programmes, innovative digital marketing for recruitment and within the University archives and collections to find quality equality images which can be digitised and used to promote stories from our University history and to be used in presentations and publications. I have also agreed to sponsor a year’s sabbatical for another of our team ( Jo) to pursue a Masters by Research to properly surface the real story of The Edinburgh Seven.
The PlayFair Steps has been successful in that it allows staff to look at diversity and equality in various ways and from various points of view, all of which contribute to improving ISG. The work began as an initiative around gender equality and has expanded to recognise that people’s identities and social positions at work – particularly in the technology industry – are shaped by multiple and interconnected factors. I have developed a range of activities exploring how a person’s age, disability status, race and ethnicity, gender, gender identity, religion or belief, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, and parent status contribute towards their specific experiences in and perspectives of our workplace. Using the local expertise of our academic colleagues and students, I seek to move beyond anecdote and create a more inclusive workplace with support from senior management for both top-down and bottom-up change.
Our IT practice now benefits from a more nuanced understanding of the structural issues which lead to workplace improvement. It is not enough to just ‘add women and stir’. The PlayFair Steps programme (which draws its name for the idea of ‘fair play’ at work) focusses on ensuring that barriers and bias are addressed and a more inclusive workplace is experienced by all. The PlayFair Steps is an initiative which improves our reputation and is of interest to central IT departments at other universities. The work is also being disseminated at relevant sector-wide conferences and recognised through being shortlisted by various national awards. Fingers crossed for more success and recognition of the value of this work in the future.
As I’m sure you are aware, we have been telegraphing high profile STEM career case studies of women who work in ISG on our LinkedIn site.
In posting these case studies our goal is clear: We want to provide our current workforce with an inclusive, fair environment in which they feel valued, creative and empowered, and we hope that others will be attracted to work with us in continuing to thrive, learn and research.
There are now so many interesting, creative, rewarding and glamourous jobs available to women who chose a technology career. By not realising this our young ( and grown) women in Scotland are missing a trick. The sector is booming and there’s no good reason why all these benefits should go to men. Tech employers are keen to attract more women and greater diversity to their teams.
My advice to women looking to start a career in IT would be to look for job adverts which highlight the opportunities to be creative and to learn. Choose an employer who will value and train you in the workplace and empower you to develop further in your career.
The 2018 STEM careers case studies are: Kirsty, Gina, Sonia, Janet, Marissa, Dominique and me.
‘Academic-related, professional, technical and support staff are the invisible glue holding a university together and providing essential services to maintain the day-to-day running of complex institutions.’ and ‘While we all collectively work towards excellence in teaching and research, it can sometimes feel like a thankless task. Too often, administrators are blamed when things go wrong but are rarely praised when things go well. And too often they are overlooked in conversations that directly affect them.’
It suggests that there is a conversation UCU need to be having. I think there are other conversations to be had more generally. There are conversations to be had between academic and academic-related staff, and there are conversations academic-related staff need to be having with each other*.
As a woman who has spent her entire career offering technology to lecturers who are then very rude about it, and setting her face to look interested as yet another colleague explains to her about the panopticon, I am quite looking forward to having a decent pension.
I do my best to keep relations good. I always encourage my staff to refer to ‘academic colleagues’ rather than ‘the academics’. I remind them about the fact that we all come from different discipline backgrounds, and to be aware that the kind of evidence which will persuade in one group will not in another. We talk about things you can count and things you cannot and the value of counting. I also try to discourage lazy stereotypes like ‘digital natives, ‘digital immigrants’, ‘luddites’ and ‘CAVEs’.
There are also conversations to be had about the different kinds of impact withdrawal of labour can have. Sometimes support staff withdrawing their labour will seem invisible. I have a suspicion that if a large IT system goes down and no-one is there to pick it up the impact would be obvious.
“Are you even allowed to strike?” a colleague asked me last week. It’s an interesting topic to discuss; the very different attitudes to being managed in the university. The lecture recording policy consultation has drawn out some fascinating stuff about informing, asking permission, agreeing, trust, ownership, rights etc from academic colleagues. It was instructive to hear some speak about their lack of trust with students, their managers and each other.
Management in the support groups is clearly different, as is the attitude to providing services**.
Do staff in support groups know/ want/ feel able to strike? Are we just as racked with guilt as lecturers who would rather be lecturing? Do we know what ‘action short of a strike’ means in our roles? all the guidance seems to the about marking and meetings. To what extent does the action itself rely on the university email for communication? To what extent should learning technology be used to mitigate a strike and how much should we help with that? Will academic colleagues stand with us if we refuse to? How many of our university systems have just one person as the single point of failure? and is that person ‘allowed’ to strike?’ Should teams cover for colleagues who strike? How rude will academic colleagues be if we are not there to fix the thing they are using, or using to work from home? These seem to me the kind of conversations we need to be having as IT professionals, and it would be great to have UCU in the room to advise.
*While I’m on the topic, I think support staff need to be discussed in a more nuanced way. I was reading our Athena Swan stuff and it seems like because there are generally more women than men in the support groups everything is fine. Until you look at the STEM bits of the support groups, like IT for instance! ‘IT guys’ seems to be a stereotype the university is happy to perpetuate. Also, the promotions structures for academic -related staff are quite different from academic staff, and we don’t have the option to do consultancy work on the side. For academics apparently that’s a ‘nice little earner’. I’d argue that perhaps the support staff are proportionally more ‘local’, are we a group being considered as beneficiaries of the City Deal investment? How many of us are in jobs which will be replaced by robots, and will those be robots we built ourselves? And, you know there are going to be intersections of class, age, race, gender and academic snobbery to consider…….
** ‘you provide services and are thus a servant‘, someone once told me. I think you can guess at which institution that was.
Sometimes, people look to me for advice and wisdom.
My advice today, to anyone who works in a role similar to mine is: try to avoid being in an institution-wide consultation about an opt-out lecture recording policy at a time of national industrial action.
We are consulting on a draft new policy at Edinburgh. It’s a good policy. It’s better than previous policies and it’s been developed over many months with input from across the University.
I am a strong believer that if you are a member of a union you should remain a member of that union even when you become senior management. The reason for this is that I believe you get better decision making when there is diversity around the board table, and union members are part of that diversity of thinking. Having some managers in the room who are union members means you get better management which is more inclusive and considerate of a range of staff views. The hope, is that with this better-informed thinking, comes fewer staff-management stand-offs.
Because of this, I have ensured that the campus unions have been part of the policy consultation since the start. A UCU rep has been part of our task group.
What have learned:
‘We can just use recorded lectures‘ is the knee-jerk go-to response of university management when threatened by an academic walk-out, but that really isn’t what this is all about. The University believes that having more lectures recorded and offering a consistent staff and student experience around that service, benefits us all in the longer term. That is why they have invested.
For colleagues at Edinburgh University, please let me assure you: The new policy is predicated on the idea that we are all in this together.
The new policy clearly states the essential purpose and aims to address a number of concerns. In the Policy Point 1. The statement of the “essential purpose” in the policy is to reassure lecturers that the intention of the service is the provision of recordings for students to review, and that this is limited to the students on the Course for which the lecture is delivered i.e. those who were entitled and expected to be present at the original lecture.
In 1.5 it clearly states that to use the lecture for business continuity , such as a volcanic eruption leaving everyone in the wrong place around the world*, or loss of a major teaching building, or absence of a major teaching person, the university can use the recording ‘if the lecturer and other participants agree, and as specified within business continuity plans relevant to the School. ‘ People on strike would presumably not agree. That is the reassurance we have been giving colleagues.
The essential purpose referred to within this policy is to allow the students undertaking a taught Course to review recordings of lectures given as part of that Course. The policy also permits a lecturer to re-use recordings of their lectures for other relevant and appropriate purposes, if all the participants in the recording agree to this.
Use of recordings
1 The University will provide recordings of lectures to students on taught Courses, where possible, to aid their learning through review and reflection. These recordings are not, other than in very exceptional circumstances, a replacement for lecture attendance or other contact hours.
1.1 The Lecture Recording Policy Privacy Statement details how the University will use and share personal data in relation to the lecture recording service.
1.2 Recording of sensitive personal data as defined in current legislation shall not take place without the explicit written consent of the person(s) to whom the data relate.
1.3 The University will provide lecture recordings to students on the Course(s) to which the lecture relates. By default, it will also provide access to the staff associated with the Course(s) in the Virtual Learning Environment. The lecturer may restrict staff access to a recording further if required.
1.4 The University encourages teaching innovation, sharing and re-use of recorded lectures where relevant and appropriate. A lecturer may publish a recording of their lecture as an open educational resource, with appropriate modifications and safeguards, including an appropriate attribution, licence and having obtained any permissions required from other participants or third parties whose intellectual property resides within the recording. Guidance on this is contained within the Open Educational Resources Policy and Website Accessibility Policy. Staff and students may otherwise only publish or share restricted-access lecture recordings with the permission of the School that owns the Course and of the lecturer and any other participants in the recording.
1.5 A School may use a past recording held within the lecture recording service in exceptional situations to provide continuity, if the lecturer and other participants agree, and as specified within business continuity plans relevant to the School.
1.6 The recordings and any associated metadata will not be used by the University for staff performance review or disciplinary processes except in the case of alleged gross misconduct. A lecturer may however choose to use recordings of their own lectures for these purposes or to allow peer observation of their teaching.
1.7 Learning Analytics from the lecture recording service may be used in accordance with the Learning Analytics policy.
* I was first convinced of the value of lecture recording ( and video conferencing) when that Icelandic volcano stranded the staff and students of my university all around the world. There were no flights in and out of Europe and, as an international research institution, we were all widely scattered. The impact on teaching, and the research activities and conferences for those few weeks was considerable.
With so many staff categorized as IT, the University of Edinburgh is one of the largest tech employers in the city. We aim to diversify our workforce but we are doing that in a very competitive labour market. Other tech employers in the city are also keen to recruit women into IT roles.
The University is preparing its silver Athena SWAN application. Input is being gathered and examples of good practice corralled. Action plans will be set.
The University has a bunch of professional support staff. Numerically far more women work in Administration than any other job segment, and outnumber men at a ratio of 4:1 in these roles. Women also predominate at a ratio of greater than 2:1 in Alumni & Development, Human Resources, Finance, Library, and Marketing &PR .
Men dominate at a ratio of greater than 2:1 in Agricultural Work, Health & Safety and IT. Agricultural work has 7 people. Health and Safety, 17. IT has more than 700!
This is a a large group of people, we should make transparent what we are doing to address the structural issues which lead to this inequality – these are STEM careers after all, and the staff who work in these STEM roles are visible role models. Strategic diversity staffing initiatives are needed. I have been reading up on the topic. This chapter in the Handbook of Diversity and Work provides a good literature review and suggestions as to what works. I have learned how organisations can tailor their recruitment and selections systems to identify those candidates who are best suited to help achieve strategic objectives. We have to be proactive about this. We can’t rely on the same sources any more. It is important to think about how and where we advertise, what messages we send and who is involved in the selection process.
Here are just some of the things we do to support recruitment and promotion in ISG:
We have completed our gender equality survey and we keep regularly updated HR dashboards of gender split by grade and by Directorate. This enables us to identify groups or areas of ISG where the gender ratio is significant.
When roles come up in those areas we take care to ensure that we attract a broader range of applications internally and externally. For senior roles we instruct our search partners to find us female candidates and 18 months this has resulted in 3 new Grade 10 directors being appointed from outside ( welcome Janet, Jen and Gosia) along with several new and newly-promoted grade 9s.
I am not convinced that we are well served by the university advertising IT jobs on Jobs.ac.uk as a recruitment source That maybe good for learning technologists, and roles which need experience of HE ( do they, really?) but it’s not a place the best developers and IT professionals are looking.
In an attempt to try to attract a more diverse workforce we* have established a Company page on LinkedIn, and we use the powerful data tools, targeted adverts and social media sharing to get more reach for our recruitment and to attract passive talent. We review job descriptions from other employers to compare with our own, and we have engaged with external groups such as Equate Scotland to give us advice on writing job adverts and role descriptors. We encourage our existing staff to share the job adverts on their own networks. We have become partners with GirlGeek Scotland to raise our profile as a tech employer which welcomes women and invests in their ongoing careers. We have established ‘Women returners’ projects with Equate Scotland. Research suggests that effective diversity management is the key to unlocking the benefits. It also suggests that university campuses are a great place to find diversity. In ISG we have established dozens of internships for university students but no graduate recruitment scheme, as yet.
When our jobs are advertised on Jobs.ac.uk we are able to use the data (along with the data from linkedIn) to understand more about who is looking at our adverts and make decisions . We were apparently the first people in the University of Edinburgh to ask Jobs.ac.uk for data. We need to pay much more attention to the wording of our job titles and adverts and think abut the messages they send. The aim of an advert is to get people to click to find out more. It is important that the messages presented make all applicants feel welcome. We use social media ( twitter) to promote our job adverts using combinations of hashtags such as #womenintech #womeninstem #girlgeekscot to encourage retweets and sharing.
Would we, could we be so bold as to say: ‘If we can’t shortlist diverse candidates, we will review the role and how we advertise it. We won’t proceed with an all-white, all-male shortlist.’ or is that a step too far?
We try to have diverse panels involved in selection and everyone involved in recruitment has done their equality and unconscious bias training. To support internal recruitment and promotion of women into more senior roles we participate in all the university initiatives such as Aurora and Connections and we activity celebrate Ada Lovelace Day and International Women’s Day. We also have internal workshops and seminars to explore the various issues such as age ( ‘baby boomers’ and ‘millennials’) , gender, sexuality, disability, race, parenthood (part time-working, fathers network) which combine and intersect to have an impact on our workplace experiences.
We ensure that all jobs are advertised internally and that secondments, flexible and part time working are available as options. We encourage staff to gain professional qualifications where appropriate and have offered support for preparing CPD portfolios for membership of those professional bodies such as CILIP and CMALT. We pay special attention to areas of technology where there are few women, such as drone pilots, and encourage colleagues to gain their qualification. On top of all this we try to highlight and celebrate success through social media, IS News and BITS magazine.
We are aware that the external perception of us as an employer is key to attracting staff. Research suggests that the images and and stories during recruitment convey messages to applicants and specific diversity-focused statement bring positive outcomes. Our Linkedin site showcases the innovation and range of IT and media projects that we do, the benefits of working for a university and particularly highlights stories from within our organisation which reflect diversity and equality themes. We showcase women in STEM roles and highlight career paths. Maybe once we have a head of communications we can think about impression management.
*when I say we, I mean me and my trusty LTWadmin and intern side-kicks.