Today we had a meeting of the Equality and Diversity Board, of whcih I've been a member for many years. It was a good meeting - very enjoyable and stimulating, and I't not always you can say that about a meeting....
It was facilitated by Simon Fanshawe, (yes, that Simon Fanshawe), and very good he was too. I didn't realise he is Chair of the University of Sussex Council, so he has a good understanding of Universities and their governance, as well as being hugely entertaining, knowledgeable about diversity issues, and a founder of Stonewall over 23 years ago.
We were looking at what it means to recruit (staff and students) for diversity and difference in an educational environment. Of course, it makes sense when you think about it properly - in order to achieve what it wants to, the University needs to recruit different sorts of people, from multiple different backgrounds, with a variety of skills. So, we looked at the barriers to this, what policies we have in place, what might need reviewing and investigating, and also examples of good practice, where changes to recruitment and working policies have made a big difference. Changing the titles of posts can make a huge difference - removing post titles which have a male connatation like 'porter" and "technician" can make a big difference to the number of female applicants for posts for example, as can the use of a variety of role models.
We also looked at our student mix, and particularly the mix of "home" students, rather than international, and our relationship with the city and the region.
In general, we have a good story to tell and we have lots of good policies and support initiatives, but we are now looking to move these on, and make sure we all recognise the value of difference and diversity. Today was an excellent start.