- Supervisors & managers
- Every Researcher Counts: equality and diversity in researcher careers in HEIs
- Every Researcher Counts case studies
- Institutional practice - University of Sunderland
Institutional practice - University of Sunderland
The University of Sunderland takes a holistic approach to equality and diversity. The aims are consistency and inclusivity where equality and diversity is embedded into business as usual activities. Staff views are actively sought, as well as collecting and using data and learning from what it reveals, ensuring activities are steered to where they are most needed.
In order to embed equality and diversity into business-as-usual practices, the chosen approach has been not to police Equality and Diversity but to promote it. The initial action was to distribute a constant stream of communications on several levels including putting up posters around all university buildings and sending newsletters to staff, constantly sending out positive messages.
- Equal pay
- The wider community
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
- Disability audits
The University of Sunderland trains all staff in Equality and Diversity. A management programme is currently being developed for leadership with equality and diversity embedded within it. Similarly, as part of induction processes the Equality and Diversity Manager meets with all staff to talk about inclusion, diversity and fostering the university community, which is a community which values dignity and respect at work and ensures collective principles based on fairness, respect and responsibility. Indeed, the feedback received from staff surveys indicates that the University is seen as a responsible organisation.
The University of Sunderland actively engages in opportunities to benchmark itself against the sector and other universities. One of the most successful areas is that of equal pay and closing the gender pay gap. Since 2003 the University has consistently conducted annual equal pay audits and taken action where appropriate. The University also publishes its gender pay gaps. Since its inception in 2003 the University has progressively been closing the gender pay gap and this open and transparent policy was cited as best practice by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission in 2010.
In support of this holistic approach the University is keen to develop relationships with the wider community. Strong local strategic partnerships have been built, and positive angles for collaborations with staff, students and the city in general are always being sought. The following examples provide a flavour of some of the partnerships in place at the University.
The University of Sunderland has an open approach to faith, and the University chaplain chairs a city wide interfaith group to support and encourage an understanding of all faiths. Prayer facilities are in place, providing space for staff and students to pray. In 2009, in order to further recognise and promote different cultures, the chaplaincy and student union organised a Diversity Celebration event where staff and students shared food, music and learned about different cultures. Similarly, the University decided to make Chinese New Year a civic event open to all, which was held at the football stadium in Sunderland. This meant that, rather than the Chinese community having their own event, it was a large celebratory event which everyone could become involved in and enjoy.
The University of Sunderland works closely with Age UK and have signed up to the Age Concern Pledge ‘Break the Age Barrier in the Workplace', which is all about valuing older people in the workplace. As part of this collaboration the University was actively involved in an inaugural event Age UK organised designed to break down age barriers. During this event the university's international students met with a group of older people giving everyone the opportunity to learn about and from each other.
In 2010, the charity Age UK was given an honorary fellowship by the University of Sunderland in recognition of its work in improving the quality of life for older people.
The University of Sunderland is committed to improving the workplace for LGBT staff and so hosted a best practice event with speakers from Stonewall and from the University. This event also promoted the activities of Sunderland Partnership LGB Independent Advisory Group. Indeed, the University, working alongside the Sunderland Partnership LGB Independent Advisory Group, led events on International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) joining together to show support to the event.
Finally, to understand some of the obstacles staff and students with a disability may face and to enable the university to take positive action, the University of Sunderland are conducting two audits. For the first, a blind student has been recruited to assess accessibility issues within the University on a 6 week summer internship. Similarly, an accessibility audit of our buildings will be undertaken by a severely disabled wheelchair user who will produce a report of her findings for appropriate actions to be taken.
The University of Sunderland's holistic approach to equality and diversity should mean all of its staff at whatever level feel able to declare their needs and that line managers and PI's know how and where to access anything they need to support their staff and colleagues.
- Create the right culture - one that everyone feels a part of
- Promote rather than police Equality and Diversity
- Make Equality and Diversity business as usual