Author Archives: Alice Allwright

Join our Inclusion Circles

All University of Kent Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff are invited to join our first Inclusion Circle session on 10 March 2021, focusing on BAME wellbeing, as part of our ‘Challenging Racism’ campaign.

The aim of the Inclusion Circles is to create a safe environment to listen to staff concerns, share experiences, discuss a variety of topics, and show solidarity. Facilitated by Inclusive Employers, the programme will take place over three 90-minute sessions. The first two sessions will focus on a different topic, with the third session culminating in an action plan based on feedback and shared experiences from earlier sessions.

Session 1 Inclusion Circle 1: Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) wellbeing (10 March, 10.00) 

    • A BAME* only discussion about current Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and the disproportionate effect of Coronavirus on BAME people.
    • A place to feel comfortable, share experiences and to find out how to get support
    • This is a safe space to express concerns and show solidarity

Sign up now, spaces are limited!

Further information and a full list of additional dates corresponding to Inclusion Circle sessions, can be found on Staff Connect. [Logon to your to Staff Connect account, click on ‘My Training Details’, then click on ‘Training Request’, enter search term ‘Inclusion Circles’ and click on ‘Search’ button.]

*Please note: the acronym BAME does not represent a homogenous group but is used here in a similar manner to its use in higher education research and by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for statistical purposes, to represent people who are racialised as belonging to a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background.

Christina Nguyen, United States

Find a way to take part in International Women’s Day

The first International Women’s Day (IWD) took place in 1911, with the aim of celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

Run annually on March 8, the day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

Each year IWD has a theme which continues all year to provide a meaningful framework to connect and amplify action. The 2021 campaign is #ChooseToChallenge and aims to inspire us all to call out gender bias and inequality

Below are some suggested areas that could be implemented to support the campaign during 2021 and beyond.

If you are running an event, large or small please write a blog and ‘Tag’ and add the ‘Category’ EDI and it will show in the new EDI webpage. ‘News and Events section’

Remember to use the #ChooseToChallenge to tweet and share your ideas and encourage others.

Some Ideas

Some event ideas include:
• A talk by an inspiring female speaker related to your field of work
• A presentation of some gender-related research related to your field
• A female senior leader from your area talking about their career and key events/support that helped them to advance
• A panel of women from your field talking about career challenges, important milestones/support, career tips, intersectional experiences, etc.
• An event to share ideas, good practice and promote change on a topic such as collective action to promote gender equality, male champions, allies, equal pay
• A presentation and discussion of a gender-related film
• A presentation and discussion from a gender-related book
• An event on a specific-gender related issue such as menopause, domestic violence, global women’s empowerment, pornography, body image
• A performance by a female artist

Below are some suggested TED Talks for IWD to start your discussions:

Why we have too few women leaders
Know your worth, and then ask for it
Women entrepreneurs, example not exception
How to make hard choices
Can we all ‘have it all’?

Below are some links to relevant reading lists:
Books about women who changed the world 
Like a Woman 

Books to read on International Women’s Day 

International Women’s Day – A vintage reading list

Books to read this International Women’s Day

Women authors – International Women’s Day

Actions for Individuals

• Pay attention to the dynamics in your workplace and ensure that people are not left on the fringes of conversations or interactions – build bridges so that they can move across
• Give credit where it is due – take steps to ensure female colleagues are visible and share their achievements
• Learn more about the impact of unconscious bias and how it can be minimised
• Question your assumptions and bias about women’s abilities, life choices and competence and challenge them in others by bringing the focus back to the facts
• Act as a visible ally and champion for gender equality engaging with colleagues who don’t value inclusion or are cynical
• Question and challenge all-male speaker panels

Attend an IWD event, see the listings here – International Women’s Day Events

Actions for Managers and Leaders

• Discuss what you can do to address gender inequality in your day to day role, as well as what you can do in your leadership capacity, to increase momentum around the agenda

• Support applications for flexible and agile working so that all colleagues can take on caring responsibilities whatever their gender
• Get to know your staff, their strengths and areas of interest and issues that impact on their lives outside of work
• Provide continuous development support which is caring and thoughtful and enables staff to evolve and grow to their strengths
• Develop robust approaches and metrics for measuring performance to avoid assumptions leaking into decision making and assessment

And don’t forget to sign up to the BAME Staff Network event marking International Women’s Day with keynote speaker the Right Reverend Dr Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover, 

Increased Microsoft security – Multi-factor authentication is coming

The University will add an extra layer of online security to all Microsoft 365 (M365) services including email and Teams from 12 April (Easter vacation). Some staff will be contacted to set this up on their accounts earlier than this date.

All staff will be enrolled onto multi-factor authentication (MFA), which adds a level of increased security when using online tools and is especially important now as many staff are working from home (99.9% reduction in compromised accounts).

As the name suggests, MFA uses multiple methods to identify that you are who you say you are. You may be familiar with this type of security which is commonly used for online banking, shopping and PayPal.

What this means 

When MFA has been added to your M365 account there will be an extra authentication step for you to complete before gaining access to M365 services from off-campus. There will be a number of options available for you to authenticate yourself, details of which will be provided.

Next steps 

We will contact all staff with further details about enrolment onto MFA later this term. If you have any questions, please get in touch with IT Service Desk.

WISC logo

WISC-Women in Supramolecular Chemistry

We know that women in academia are disproportionately affected by funding structures, academic culture and caring responsibilities whatever their discipline. We know that there is a gender disparity in Science, Technology Engineering, and Maths disciplines. We do not know why women in the chemical sciences are further marginalised. Within the chemical sciences the lack of retention and progression for women and all those with protected Equality and Diversity characteristics is pronounced.

WISC (the international Women In Supramolecular Chemistry network) was founded by a small group of academics, including Dr Jennifer Hiscock and Dr Jennifer Leigh from Kent, in order to address equality and diversity in the field. Since its launch in late 2019, WISC has created a website and resource bank, conducted a survey of the supramolecular community, initiated small group mentoring and support clusters for parents, those with disabilities/chronic illnesses/neurodivergences, and 1st Gen chemists.

WISC aspires to be an agent of change. We want the work we are engaged in to bring about actions and inspire change from others. In 1979 Audre Lorde, a self-proclaimed Black feminist, poet, and warrior, said if we want to change things, we need to do them differently. WISC has taken a creative and reflective approach to ongoing research projects to humanise the reasons why equality work is so vital. Our aim is to develop a community and increase its diversity.

We want to intervene within a space that is unfair and marginalised, and change the experiences of those entering the field, drawing on feminist and creative research practices to make sure voices are heard, and show the STEM community that interventions like this are worthwhile and necessary.

WISC are about to publish a paper in Angewandte Chemie (DOI: 10.1002/anie.202015297) and an article in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Chemistry World.

Person using laptop

Withdrawal of GOEsend service on 10 March: use OneDrive instead

The GOEsend service, which lets you send large files by email, will be retired on 10 March.

If you use GOEsend, note that any files you’ve shared won’t be available to the recipient from 10 March.

To share large files, you can use OneDrive instead: save the file to your OneDrive and share it from there. Files can be shared with students, staff or external contacts.

Sensitive files

You can also use OneDrive to share sensitive files securely within the University and with external contacts.

We don’t currently offer encryption for files containing sensitive data. Be aware that if you share a file of this nature with an external contact, they can download it and forward it, so make sure you have a written agreement with them that they won’t share the document further.

Encryption of files for confidentiality is under development. This will enable you to share files with only specific contacts and prevent any onward forwarding.

person using macbook on wooden table

Care first webinars w/c 22 February 2021

Our official Employee Assistance Programme provider, Care first offers a numbers of services and provide useful advice and support, including weekly webinars.

This week’s (Monday 22 February – Friday 26 February webinars are as follows:

Monday 22 February 2021 – ‘How Care first can support you’
Time: 12.00-12.30 – to register please click on this Go to webinar link.

Tuesday 23 February 2021 -‘Updates to Care first Lifestyle’
Time: 12.00-12.30 – to register please click on this Go to webinar link

Wednesday 24 February 2021 – ‘How making small changes to your diet & exercise can have a positive impact on your wellbeing’
Time: 12.00-12.30 – to register please click on this Go to webinar link

Thursday 25 February 2021 – ‘How the pandemic could affect the way organisations do business’
Time: 12.00-12.30 – to register please click on this Go to webinar link

Friday 26 February 2021 – ‘Keeping optimistic during the Pandemic’
Time: 12.00-12.30 – to register please click on this Go to webinar link

'Spread Kindness' Random Act of Kindness image

The Power of Random Acts of Kindness

Article from Brenda Brunsdon, Occupational Health and Wellbeing Team Manager

This week is Random Acts of Kindness Week and Wednesday, 17 February, is celebrated as Random Acts of Kindness Day. The strapline this year is ‘Explore the Good and Make Kindness the Norm’.

What is so special about being kind that it needs a specific day dedicated to it, let alone a whole week to celebrate it? Then again, isn’t being kind so natural that we shouldn’t need a campaign or special day to remind us of its importance in everyday life?

Kindness is a lot more important than we think. When we act with kindness towards others, do things to make their lives easier, go out of our way to bring them happiness, we do ourselves good as well. To quote Portia in Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice’: ‘The quality of mercy….is twice blessed; it blesseth him who gives and him who takes’.

When a person gives or receives kindness, both individuals involved experience a release of feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters. We get a dose of serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins. All of this lifts our mood, relieves pain, and physically helps heal any inflammation in our bodies. What’s even more amazing is that the positive effects that occur are also experienced by onlookers who see the act of kindness. It amounts to a cascade of positivity, happiness, and calmness.

There are many research studies that bear out these positive effects which come from practicing kindness. It only needs to be a few acts of kindness a week to make a difference. Some research has shown that extending this to engaging in loving kindness meditation can actually help a person live longer – see the BrainCraft YouTube video below.

Kindness has assumed an even greater emphasis over the pandemic crisis. Our worlds have been turned upside down by restrictions, illness, grief, and fear. Extending kindness to ourselves and those round us has never been more important. So, really make an effort to celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day this year. If you’re struggling to think of what you can do, some of the links below have suggestions.  The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, who initiated this as a focus day some years ago, even has a Toolkit you can use, (link below).

It’s rare that something so easy to do is also so very good for us; it really is minimal effort for maximum gain.

Random Acts of Kindness Foundation Toolkit for 2021 Campaign ‘Explore the Good and Make Kindness the Norm’

‘Make Kindness the Norm’ Random Acts of Kindness Foundation Workplace Calendar 2021

Lifevestinside Kindness Cards on lifevestinside.com

‘35 Random Acts of Kindness You Can Do While Social Distancing’ on Waterford.org

‘Random Acts of Kindness’ and ‘Kindness Matters Guide’ on mentalhealth.org.uk

‘The Selfish Benefits of Kindness’ by BrainCraft on YouTube

‘The Science of Kindness’ by randomactsofkindness on YouTube

‘Official Song of LifeVestInside – Show You Care’ by lifevestinside on YouTube

‘Happy to help? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of performing acts of kindness on the well-being of the actor’ research publication by Curry OS, Rowland LA, Van Lissa CJ, Zlotowitz S, McAlaney J, Whitehouse H in J Exp Soc Psychol. 2018;76:320–9 via ScienceDirect.com

‘Happy People become Happier through Kindness: a Counting Kindnesses Intervention’ by Otake K, Shimai S, Tanaka-Matsumi J, Otsui K, Fredrickson BL. In J Happiness Stud. 2006;7(3):361–75. Via PubMed.gov

Macbook pro on white table next to a plant and yellow table lamp

Care first webinars – w/c 15 February 2021

Our official Employee Assistance Programme provider, Care first offers a numbers of services and provide useful advice and support, including weekly webinars.

This week’s (Monday 15 February – Friday 19 February webinars are as follows:

Monday 15 February 2021 – ‘How Care first can support you’
Time: 12.00-12.30 – to register please click on this Go to webinar link.

Tuesday 16 February 2021 – ‘How Colleagues can support each other whilst Working from Home’
Time: 12.00-12.30 – to register please click on this Go to webinar link

Wednesday 17 February 2021 – ‘Ways to show Kindness during the pandemic’
Time: 12.00-12.30 – to register please click on this Go to webinar link

Thursday 18 February 2021 – ‘Tips to avoid eye strain whilst Working from Home’
Time: 12.00-12.30 – to register please click on this Go to webinar link

Friday 19 February 2021 – ‘Mental Health advice for Older People’
Time: 13.00-13.30 – to register please click on this Go to webinar link

Tim Hopthrow

Graduate and Researcher College Deputy Dean

The Graduate and Researcher College is delighted to announce that Dr Tim Hopthrow, Reader in Psychology, will be the GRC’s Deputy Dean from 1st April for 9 months. Professor Paul Allain will remain as Dean whilst seconded to REF Sub-Panel 33: Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies. He will continue to focus on the GRC’s new remit for supporting all academic staff who research with Dr Hopthrow focusing on Graduate Studies. Together and with the rest of the GRC team as well as Divisional and PSD colleagues they will be developing the GRC’s new strategy for approval in the autumn, recognising its new scope and updating its mission.

Dr Hopthrow has been Deputy Dean for the Social Sciences, Associate Dean for Research and Innovation, a key figure in the development of the university’s Signature Research Themes, and has had extensive involvement in Graduate Studies, at Kent and beyond, in particular for our Social Science Consortium SeNSS.

Professor Shane Weller, who chaired the appointment panel, said “Tim comes with a wealth of leadership experience, and I very much look forward to working with him in this new capacity as the GRC focuses on its wider remit, supporting both our postgraduate community and our researchers throughout their career.”

Allyship Progamme – starting 23 February 2021

Continuing with our ‘Challenging Racism’ campaign, 23 February 2021 sees the start of our Inclusive Allyship Programme as a four part series looking at the values, behaviours and actions of Allies within Kent.

Allies will play a key role in supporting the University to advance its Equality agenda by linking with the staff networks, to support them with events and activities; be driven by staff lived experience and expertise; and support various stakeholders across the University to drive a culture of inclusion.

We continue our partnering with Liverpool John Moores University and City, University of London, and Inclusive Employers in delivering the Allyship programme with a cohort of 40 people across all 3 institutions.

Inclusive Allyship Programme (Part A)

Delivered by Inclusive Employers, the programme will take place over several weeks to allow for reflection and action between sessions. Each session will be one hour long.

Aim of the programme:

  • Understand what makes an Inclusion Ally and how it relates to three key areas: values, behaviours and actions.
  • Explore privilege, circles of influence, and the boundaries of the role.
  • Explore frameworks and techniques to challenge exclusion and have challenging conversations.
  • Create an individual plan of action.

Session 1 (Introductory Session) – “Welcome to Allies” webinar (23 February 2021 – 11.00)

  • Values: why are Allies important? – We’ll take a look at the purpose of Allies at the University and the wider context, including anti-racism and structural discrimination.
  • Behaviours: how do Allies make a difference? – We’ll discuss privilege and power and how this can be utilised to make the workplace more inclusive, identifying the boundaries of the Ally role.
  • Actions: what do Allies do? – We’ll look at specific projects and initiatives Allies can support, and the actions they will be taking over the next 4 weeks

Further information and a full list of additional dates corresponding to the Allyship programme, can be found on Staff Connect. There are places still available so don’t forget to book your spot!