Tag: equality

leading institutions to change

I am delighted that we are able to host the Echo360 conference in Edinburgh next week.

I’ll be speaking at the conference about how important it is for leading institutions to change.

The implementation of lecture recording at University of Edinburgh was an innovative project to equip up to 400 teaching spaces and automate the recording of lectures at scale. The University has targeted an improved student digital experience by investing several million pounds in a state-of-the-art lecture recording system that has covered all the campus lecture rooms. Our approach is based on being widely flexible and enabling choices of formats and pedagogy.

The demand for lecture recording at University of Edinburgh was designed to in response to student feedback. The ability to watch lectures again as an aid to revision is immensely popular with our students already, video and audio recordings of lectures supplement the rich set of online resources that already exist to support learning.

The project was managed by a well co-ordinated team and delivered to a high quality specification, on time and in budget. The team demonstrated an outstanding commitment to delivering a high quality service for the institution. Over the last 12 months the team have successfully handled complex academic development, policy implementation and technical challenges with considerable skill and sensitivity. All throughout this time they retained a core focus on supporting an excellent student experience, championing accessibility and inclusive practices.  This work has opened up critical conversations that go beyond technology to discuss the value of lectures, the value of recordings and why we teach the way we teach and has been accompanied by evaluative research into the impact and value at institutional level.

The team has been particularly effective at incorporating research findings to continually improve the service and respond to the needs of users. As an organisation we learned a huge amount from the process: academic insight, student satisfaction, new research, communications strategies, technical know-how and a field-tested working model of how to complete a project of this size and ambition.

The Lecture Recording Project at Edinburgh University is one of the largest upgrades of AV technology in teaching rooms to take place in an educational institution anywhere in the world and it was done across an historical and rapidly expanding estate.  We now have the capability to record close to 100% of lecture activity within the institution. We   offer a consistent experience for all students and support our diverse student community. Many of our students have complex lives and are balancing study alongside caring responsibilities, or the need to work to fund their studies. Recordings of lectures can lessen anxiety about keeping on top of study, and provide a safety net when life circumstances prevail.

The team delivered transformational aspects of lecture recording by:

  • Supporting a programme of evaluation and engagement activities which has opened up critical conversations about the role of the lecture and why we teach the way we do.
  • Running a pro-active communications campaign around opting-out of lecture recording, to be sensitive to concerns raise by academic colleagues.
  • Working with course organisers and professional staff to develop highly usable scheduling software based on timetabling information, to automate the recording of lectures at scale.
  • Equipping 400 teaching spaces, including our innovative camera and recording solution for capturing chalkboards in Maths and Physics.
  • Improving the use of microphones in lecture theatres and increasing awareness of accessibility and inclusion issues.
  • Integrating the new lecture recording service with the University’s VLEs offering safe and secure access to recordings.
  • Training 40 student helpers across the campuses during the first week of teaching in each Semester to provide immediate advice on use of the recording equipment.
  • Offering comprehensive training programme to support academic colleagues to prepare teaching materials for lecture recording.
  • Delivering a system designed to be as user-friendly as possible and to have minimal impact on the presentation and delivery of lectures.

There are many proven benefits to making recordings of lectures available including supporting students for whom English is not a first language and ensuring that our face to face lectures are available in an alternative format for students who require it. Not having to take notes at speed allows students to focus more on what is being said and use valuable contact time to ask questions, knowing that notes can be reviewed and improved later.

This work at Edinburgh has had a wider impact across the sector, we have involved commercial partners, external advisors, learning technologists, academic developers AV specialists, trainers, researchers and staff and students from across all disciplines to deliver one of the most successful large scale roll-outs of learning technology across a large institution with a challenging physical estate.

2018/19 Academic Year: Recordings made/scheduled: 24,000, Student views (year to date): 528,000. Hours watched (year to date): 527,000

We gratefully acknowledge all the colleagues and practitioners in other institutions who have shared their practice with us. Much of our project has been built upon the lessons learned by others. We believe that by considering the widest possible range of technical, academic, policy, and social factors around lecture recording, we have achieved a model for lecture recording, and indeed other learning technology implementations that others could copy. A large part of our ethos has been to work as openly as we possibly can, sharing and reflecting on our practice. With that in mind we have tried to make as many of our guides, training materials, research, evaluation, processes and planning as possible available openly online for the benefit of the wider sector.

a culture of inclusive thinking -Menopause et al

Graphic design from ISG BITS magazine

We recently ran an excellent session on using inclusive language in recruitment. We spent some time thinking about the positive things we can say about the inclusive culture in ISG. One of the aspects of an inclusive culture can be seen in the extent to which we think about and talk about how our colleagues experience the workplace differently.

With regard to organisational culture and openness to diversity  Olsen and Martins offer a theory-driven framework for evaluating managerial and organisational approaches to diversity management (Olsen & Martins, 2012). They propose that organisational approach is particularly important to study because it is within the control of the organisation more explicitly than external society-level factors.  The Olsen model aims to explore the ‘how’ and ‘why’ which underlie diversity management approaches in organisations and to link these to organisational outcomes. ‘Openness to diversity’ is defined as putting an emphasis on pro-diversity beliefs and attitudes and refers specifically to  group members’ positive attention to dissimilarities (Lauring & Villesèche, 2017). Diversity programmes in the workplace are socially situated and the organisation provides the specific environmental context in which such initiatives will success, thrive or fail to a lesser or greater extent.

For me, as senior leader, this means that whenever there is a workplace issue, even if it is not a top priority for me personally I try to think about how it might impact other people and specifically whether there are any groups of colleagues who might be disproportionately affected, and whether there are voices which are unlikely to be heard. In the workplace we are all part of different groups. Those may be identity groups (e.g. age, gender, race,  class, ethnicity) and/or organisational groups (job function or place within organisational hierarchy). While managers are an organisational group and members of the management group may be perceived as representative of that group by their staff, their own membership of one or more identity group will also influence how there are perceived or behave (Kossek & Zonia, 1993).

One of the workplace issues which particularly exercises the ISG staff who work in Argyle House is the heat. Colleagues want to see data, and they want to see action.  When I think about the excessive heat in the office I know that this will disproportionately affect colleagues who are struggling to regulate their own body temperature, such as women who are experiencing hot flushes as the result of menopause. I also know that the voices of those experiencing menopause are often unheard and easily dismissed.  Menopause is still a ‘taboo’ topic for many and we don’t gather good data to know what the impact really is on our organisation. A smart employer with an inclusive culture would attend to this. Women of a certain age are a large group in ISG.

Menopause is an intersectional issue of gender and age. For many women it comes 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.  In an ‘aged hierarchical’ organisation like ours it may also come just at the time when you are consolidating leadership and management responsibilities.  Three out of five (59%) working women between the ages of 45 and 55 who are experiencing menopause symptoms say it has a negative impact on them at work (CIPD, 2019) For these reasons it is a topic of interest for employers, unions and politicians. If you haven’t thought about menopause in the workplace before, or what it means to your practice as an inclusive manager I recommend a quick google search on ‘menopause in the workplace’.

Here’s the blurb for our upcoming PlayFair Steps event at University of Edinburgh Information Services. It’s part of the ISG ‘going through the change’ theme 😉

PlayFair Steps: Overheating and Stressed in the Workplace?

We know from our very first PlayFair Steps event that age is an important issue that affects employees at work in a variety of ways. Experiencing the menopause while working can be a double whammy bringing stress, sleepless nights and hot flushes which make it difficult to perform at your best and thrive at work.  Recognising and understanding the causes of stress in the workplace and thinking about how we can best support our colleagues makes sense for leaders, managers, recruiters and customer facing service teams. All are welcome at this session to discuss and engage with how ISG can be a better place to work for all. This session is the starting point for ensuring ISG promotes a culture that is open to employees talking about health issues.

***Remember that all IS staff are welcome to any PlayFair Steps event, even if you do not know much about the topic under discussion. You are encouraged to use this space to ask questions and have meaningful discussions. As this working group meeting will be over the lunch hour, do feel free to bring your lunch.***
Booking link: https://www.events.ed.ac.uk/index.cfm?event=book&scheduleID=33941.

Olsen, Jesse E., & Martins, Luis L. (2012). Understanding organizational diversity management programs: A theoretical framework and directions for future research. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 33(8), 1168-1187. doi:10.1002/job.1792

Lauring, Jakob, & Villesèche, Florence. (2017). The Performance of Gender Diverse Teams: What Is the Relation between Diversity Attitudes and Degree of Diversity? European Management Review, 0(0). doi:10.1111/emre.12164

Kossek, Ellen, & Zonia, Susan. (1993). Assessing Diversity Climate: A Field Study of Reactions to Employer Efforts to Promote Diversity. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 14(1), 61-81.

 

Equate Awards

Dominique with her award. We can use this pic for her Wikipedia page one day.

We nominated Dominique for this award and she won.

Dominique Green is a PhD student at University of Edinburgh. She is a data scientist and a tutor in quantitative methods. She also works one day per week as Equality and Diversity Intern in the University’s Information Services. Over three years Dominique has made an amazing impact on the institution. Her expertise has helped us to address the challenges we face as a large tech employer, to support women in our workplace and to change and develop policy. Her work has developed our organisation, improved and celebrated the experience of women in STEM and  contributed to a cultural shift towards ‘openness to diversity’.  Her own passion for the topic and expertise in theory grounded in data inspired us to adopt an intersectional approach to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in our workplace and has pushed us to go beyond anecdote and use data-based decision making to really address some entrenched structural issues.

Since the beginning of her internship Dominique has helped us to understand the link between diversity in our workplace and improved services for staff and students. She has also helped us to understand the data we have about our organisation and the management decisions we can make as a result.  After analysing the data from our 2015 gender equality survey, Dominique produced a SMART plan of strategic management actions for 1,3 and 5 years to get us to a more diverse and inclusive workplace (plan attached below).

Her recommendations were accepted by senior management and integrated into departmental plans and reporting dashboards.  She has organised an innovative programme of activities to engage staff across the organisation ( c500 staff have attended these events). She has liaised with academic experts, third sector groups, charities and consultants to put together a staff development programme of 20 training and discussion events which enables colleagues to engage with new ideas and thinking about how we experience our workplace and how we design our services. She has also become to go-to expert for advice on how to ensure that our work has real impact.

Dominique’s work in partnership with University of Edinburgh Information Services has had short and long-term impact on the Edinburgh University student population and for the wider community of university staff. She has ensured that we are accountable and transparent in the ways in which we consider diversity in the organisation and understand the experience of women in STEM. The profile of women across grades has changed significantly with significantly more women now in roles at UoE Grades 9 and 10. She has pushed our services consider equality and diversity in their design and encouraged us to welcome students from all across the university as change agents in our organisation. More than 50% of staff have undertaken equality and diversity training. We now employ more than 100 students with us as interns, placements and apprentices. As a student herself Dominique has been uniquely placed to help us understand how to be an inclusive STEM workplace, and the value of this partnership working between institution and student has been seen across the organisation.

 

stay within the lines; the lines are our friends

Don’t Cross the Line campaign posters and social media materials https://www.ed.ac.uk/equality-diversity/respect/campaign/campaign-materials

The University of Edinburgh recently ran its first institution-wide staff engagement survey.

It has sparked some long-needed conversations in many areas of the University.  To support us in exploring the reports further a data analysis pack has been produced which gives some insights into the key results and messages at University, College and Professional Service Group level .

Within LTW we have started conversations to help us explore our data, and to build on initiatives happening across the University. At our LTW All Staff meeting in December 2018 we ran a session/activity to increase our understanding of contributing factors in the responses by LTW staff and to contribute to an outline action plan.

We know that 42% of the LTW respondents  believe that action will be taken as a result of the survey. That’s 10% higher than in the rest of ISG and a clear message to the director and managers.   We are in the midst of our annual processes for ADR, reward and recognition ( more than 20 staff have been nominated for lumpsum payments or increments) and we already have programmes for innovation, staff development and equality and diversity. In addition, ISG have finally appointed a comms officer to look at internal communications, so we can hope that messages to and from our staff are heard.

This week we will try our first run of our ‘Where do you draw the line?’ workshop to learn about the factors that empower participants to work collaboratively to address concerns about bullying and harassment.

More updates on our plans will follow.

presenting and representing

Dominique and me busting myths in London. Picture taken by someone else at the event. No rights reserved by me.

Dominique and I presented our work in Equality and Diversity  in London this week. We were invited by Universities HR to showcase ‘The PlayFair Steps‘, our award winning staff development and organisational change programme.

A quick check around the audience indicated that we were the only non-HR professionals in the room. Dominique was certainly the only student. Nevertheless, the audience were very kind and seemed genuinely interested in how much we have achieved. Colleagues from Salford and Leicester have already contacted me to find out more.

We touched on a number of challenging ideas. We spoke about the sector imperative for IT services in universities to ensure that the services and products we develop meet the diverse needs of our students and users, and how diversity in our workforce can contribute to that business advantage. We spoke about the need for the sector to work together to make a career in university IT seem like an attractive choice for all.  We spoke about the value of students as change agents in your organisation and the importance of intersectionality. Dominique managed to say ‘intersectionality’  to this audience nearly half a dozen times.

In the bar afterwards we reflected that equality and diversity at work is a matter for leadership, not something to be ‘left’ to HR.

In July 2015  only 1 out of  the 8 grade10 posts in ISG were held by women. In January 2019 we are 4 of 9.

In July 2015 9 out of 35 grade9 posts were held by women. In January 2019 we are 15 of 38.

Looking at staff engagement, 438 staff in ISG have signed up to attend events in our ‘PlayFair Steps series’. Event titles include:

Understanding age in the workplace: challenges and opportunities (Prof Wendy Loretto)
 Equality Working Group: introductory session
Race Matters in the Workplace (Prof Rowena Arshad)
 LinkedIn for recruitment (LinkedIn)
PlayFair Steps community meeting
 Coding for Diversity ( Stewart Cromar and Jacqui Aim)
Supporting fathers to make the most of workplace entitlements ( Prof Alison Koslowski)
 Changing Recruitment Language (Equate Scotland)
Women into Coding (Girl Geek Scotland)
 Disability and Employment – The Challenges of Finding and Keeping a Job (Prof Sheila Riddell)
 Managerial and Critical Perspectives to Understanding Gender in the Workplace (Dr Tom Calvard)
 Working Group: Dads’ Focus Group (Fathers Network Scotland)
Managerial Perspectives to Understanding Millennials in the Workplace ( Dominique Green)
 What is LGBT+ and why does it matter at work? ( LGBT+ Staff network)
Religion at the University (Harriet Harris)
Working Dads Focus Group (Fathers Network Scotland)
Intersectional approaches to Equality and Inclusion at Work ( Dominique Green)
 Renew You (ChangingPeople)
 Speak Up (ChangingPeople)
IT and Accessibility (Stratos, Myles, Anne-Marie, Bruce)
 Outsiders Within: Can Feminist Managers Make a Difference? (Prof Fiona MacKay)
Age Awareness: Working in Inter-generational Teams (Age Scotland)

 

 

International Women’s Day 2019

We are taking the opportunity of International Women’s Day to rename our Boardroom in Argyle House after Brenda Moon, the first woman to head up a research university library when she was Librarian here at the University of Edinburgh in the 1980s and 90s.

Brenda played a major role in bringing the University into the digital age, as Edinburgh became the first major university library in the UK to tackle and deliver a computer-based service.

In addition to Brenda Moon, we will also be renaming three of our IT training rooms after notable Edinburgh women – Irene J Young, Marjorie Rackstraw and Annie Hutton Numbers. These are women who have been celebrated in our university archives and showcased by our Equality and Diversity Images Intern, Francesca.

Also on the day we will be hosting an ‘Edit-a-thon’  for staff, students and friends of the University to create Wikipedia entries for notable women currently missing from the encyclopaedia site, and  a ‘Sketch-a-thon’ using images from the Centre for Research Collections’ Special Collections. All artistic abilities welcome!

There will also be copious badgemaking.

 

Wikipedia Editathon – Women of Edinburgh:

This event is open to staff, students and friends of the University and is an opportunity to help add more notable women associated with Edinburgh.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:University_of_Edinburgh/International_Women%27s_Day_2019

Sketch-a-thon:

Learn about the lives of some of the incredible women in the archives of the Centre for Research Collections at the University of Edinburgh, while putting your creative side to use in a relaxed learning environment!

This event will enable you to portray the work of pioneering women through a series of fun, fast-paced challenges that will help you flex your sketching muscles and experiment with daring colour-combinations, silly caricatures and speedy doodles. No drawing experience is necessary to join us, and all students and staff are welcome. Materials will be provided, but please do feel free to bring your own coloured pencils or felt-tip pens if you wish. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/international-womens-day-sketchathon-tickets-55208621473?fbclid=IwAR2krJRic9Q0qPV3GUtDni2Qr4fNXW0ww5yvhmhawQvPIKNyqqC1QESBEuA

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.

on having an even bigger sister

In some cities, such as Edinburgh, the university may be one of the largest tech employers in the city. At Edinburgh we have around 600 staff in IT roles. That makes us a big player in tech employment. We also get the benefit of having an even bigger sister standing right beside us. The University of Edinburgh as a whole is a huge employer and a huge part of the public sector workforce. The terms, conditions and perks which we as information services are able to offer to our potential employees are made possible by virtue of being a small part of a huge organisation.

As well as a range of flexible working options and attention paid to being family-friendly most universities offer generous maternity and parental leave and arrangements for sick-pay.  Although many universities do not offer as much on-site childcare facilities as some would like, I suspect it is still way ahead of some tech employers.

University holiday allowances are pretty good. 40 days a year is about the average for most institutions (including national holidays and closure days). Equal pay schemes and university unions ensure that salaries and pensions are decent. Universities are also able to offer permanent or open-ended contracts for IT staff. Other industries might offer more in terms of up-front salary, but there are many extra benefits to working in a university .  We have information about staff  benefits and reward calculator which we use to show the real value of our arrangements.

Universities are learning organisations, if you need to grow and develop in your job training is usually offered for both the skills needed for your job and to assist career and personal development. There are mentoring schemes and career development and promotion tracks.

The climate for equality and diversity is also generally good, most universities have a very progressive stance on equality and diversity in terms of both recruitment and working environment. The very fact that there are high profile initiatives underway in higher education for students and academics contributes to the social environment or culture constructed in universities in which the professional staff work. That is to say, IT professionals working in universities benefit  from large initiatives such as Athena SWAN which are given resource and investment by the university.

There is a range of less talked about perks which I think make universities great places to work.

1) Universities have sport facilities, theatres, staff clubs, art galleries, museums, music venues and shops which are there to be enjoyed by staff at discounted rates, often for free.  There are very few employers who can boast such a range of amenities.

2) You get to working on a filmset. I worked for several years at Oxford and you couldn’t turn a corner without bumping into  a film crew, catering vans and extras dressed in medieval outfits. Or inspector Morse. Or a boy wizard.

3) Culture and collegiality abound. Every evening all across campus there are research seminars, events, book launches, receptions, openings, exhibitions to go to which are open to all staff and anyone interested. Its a lovely way to meet people and network.

4) The festival city is on your doorstep. Literally. Your office may be requisitioned at short notice for a comedy show .

5) Your children and the children of all your friends will have access to the extensive cultural capital at your fingertips when they need to find work experience for school.

6) Eduroam wireless will be provided to you free of charge as you move around the world.  You can sidle up to any university, library, hospital or museum building in any city and pick up free wifi.

7) We are fighting the good fight for truth, facts and against news. You get to be part of this.