Update from Leroy | Race Equality Charter Co-ordinator
Since our last update the Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) Team has been working on our Race Equality Charter (REC) and at the end of 2021, introduced our Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment (RECSAT) Team to analyse its data.
Here’s more information about the Race Equality Charter and the work being done by the Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment Team:
What is the REC?
The Race Equality Charter (REC) is an AdvanceHE charter mark focussed at Higher Education (HE) institutions reflecting and tackling race inequality. It follows fairly similar principles to AthenaSWAN with the exception that its focus is ethnicity rather than gender. It asks us as an institution to set up a Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment Team (RECSAT).
What is RECSAT?
The Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment Team (RECSAT), is the committee involved in analysing our application, commenting and critiquing on data.
We established the RECSAT in December 2021 and since then it has had two full meetings and they have been discussing topics such as the University’s wider EDI work alongside how we go about fulfilling REC requirements.
Outcome from the RECSAT meetings
The RECSAT decided to continue to use the term racially minoritised in Kent. While we know that the term racially minoritised isn’t perfect, we all acknowledge the problems the term Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) brings, especially how it excludes some minoritised communities and homogenises others.
As set out in the Antiracism Strategy; racially minoritised is a term increasingly used in EDI work as an alternative to BAME as it highlights the social construction of racial categorisation. However, the term racially minoritised also has limitations:
- it could be perceived as passive and limiting in terms of individual agency
- it also risks homogenising the experience of individuals and communities who experience racism in different ways.
The term is used here fully aware of these limitations but in acknowledgement that there is no consensus on a new national preferred terminology as of yet.
Where we classify racially minoritised and we as an institution support racially minoritised individuals, there may be a mismatch in support from external providers and we are looking to see how we can do that effectively.
We would encourage staff and students to talk to RECSAT members so that thoughts and opinions can enhance meetings. We would ask however to respect that the individuals are students and full time staff and may also have a lot of things on their plate alongside the vital work they are doing in the REC.
One of the other key things that our RECSAT emphasised in their previous meetings, is the importance of making spaces and mechanisms with proper throughput of lived experiences of staff and students. Members stressed the importance of listening and discussing these things and not losing the spaces that provide them, as well as ensuring what’s heard is acted upon and taken up with feedback and progress.
Discussions of the things that come out of RECSAT meetings will form part of the REC action plan as well.
The EDI Team has been working on our REC application with the input of the RECSAT and staff around the institution.
How you can get involved
If you’re a group of staff, a student network, Divisional EDI team, a person who wants to know more, get involved or mention something to us, do get in touch.
There are some quick and easy things you can do:
- Have open discussions about EDI between yourselves and your Divisional/Departmental EDI teams. The more we talk, the more we can listen, the more we can improve. Those things can feed into the REC process and our EDI forum.
- Ensure you’ve got your demographic information complete as possible and up to date on StaffConnect. We need to ensure we have as complete a picture as possible when we do our work to make sure it has the widest impact.
There are resources in Kent and across the board that can help you get started, enhance what you know with some intersectionality in Kent:
- Antiracism Strategy (pdf)
- Diversity Mark Toolkit – Tips to diversify your reading list
- EDI Resource Bank
- Disability Toolkits and Resources – Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity – University of Kent
- Race Equality Charter | Advance HE
Progress on student demands
Throughout the REC and antiracism work we have been doing we are keeping a close eye on the student demands and what we can do to take more action on them.
Kent made its Antiracism Strategy in response to student demands as well as to incorporate the University’s commitment to being an antiracist institution. An action plan to that strategy is being made as part of our REC submission process to push the progress in a positive direction with meaningful accountability.
We are setting up a Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Group. The group will include staff and students and look at potentially being an independent panel having no senior management involved in the processes.
The excellent survey made by the BAME staff network is entering its next phase. Big shout out to the network co-chairs for the amazing piece of work they are continuing.
Other institutional progress
Kent has signed up to StellarHE Executive Development Programme for Diverse Leaders (BAME) in Higher Education. It is aimed at academic and professional staff aspiring to senior leadership positions in Higher Education and we have submitted our first round of staff to the programme.