Category Archives: EDI

Kent People: Meet our very own Jacquie of All Trades 

Jacquie Edwards is PA to the Director of Sport, but better known to many as performer Ginger Bennett. During Black History Month, she tells us how stories of being and growing up in the UK during lockdown helped create this alter ego. 

‘I joined the University in 2001 as a temp in the Estates Department. Jill Andrew’s Friday afternoon tray bakes were amazing and I think I knew from the first bite I would be working here until they shoehorned me out!

‘I’ve always had an affliction or a gift, whichever way you look at it. If I say I’m going to do something out loud, I will generally do it. Sometimes I will fail spectacularly but I will always see it through.  

‘In the past, this has led to some marvellous opportunities: I was a canoeing Instructor (who couldn’t swim that well); a karaoke hostess (with chronic nerves); PA to the Head of Exhibitions and Displays at the National Maritime Museum (with no keyboard skills whatsoever); and managed to hoist the Women’s Rugby World Cup (even though I really don’t like mud and dirt). 

‘I think a lot of working mothers know how that adventurous, pioneering spirit can so easily be diluted once you have children. It happened to me and, three children later, I was more prone to muttering under my breath than boldly proclaiming my next bonkers venture.  

Becoming, Being and Belonging 

‘Enter global pandemic and the lockdown. I’d always thought I came from a very close family but those Zoom calls take to you to another level! Those talking heads revealed family stories I’d never heard – stories about my parents’ arrival to the UK and their feelings of being and belonging. When I shared these stories with friends, I found the stories of their parents’ arrivals meshed with their own feelings and stories. Unconsciously, I had started to build an account of Becoming, Being and Belonging for 1st Generation Immigrants to the UK and their 2nd Generation children.  

‘Somewhere around month six or seven, I became very low – Long Covid, lockdown, three children, home-schooling and menopause all played a part. I have a lovely friend who saw through my thin smiling veneer – we talked, sometimes daily, and I read her the stories and poems I had written around the theme. She told me they were funny and important and, before long, I said out loud “I think I can write a play about this” so I did. It may have helped that friend is an award-winning jazz pianist but, regardless, I’ve done it.  It’s out there. 

The England Women’s Rugby World Cup-winning team, 1994. Jacquie is in the front row with her arm around the flag.

Songs from My Soul 

Songs from My Soul is an amalgamation of tales told to me by friends and family about being and growing up in the UK. I think it cuts across race too as I hope it tells the age-old story of mothers fighting for their children the best they know how and then letting them go.  

‘The stories are distilled into the life of Aretha a mother who, now retired, sees the path travelled very differently from her daughter, Bernadette.  

‘Those Zoom calls were a real awakening and I now have a few more job titles to add to my dodgy CV: Playwright, Producer, Actress.’ 

Listen and find out more 

Jacquie performs regularly across Kent as Ginger Bennett with her funk and Soul Band Project F and the KD Dance Orchestra 

Songs from My Soul will be performed at the Tower Theatre, Folkestone, on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 October from 20.00. Tickets, priced £12, are available on the Tower Theatre webpages 

Songs from My Soul is a year-long Arts Council funded project and will examine, Becoming, Belonging and Being as part of a performance of new works next year. The Songs from My Soul team would love to hear your stories and write your song. Get in touch via this Songs from my Soul link 

You can also listen to original songs for the Songs from my Soul project on YouTube. 

Feedback from the ‘Implementing an anti-racism strategy’ session

The final day of Kent’s inaugural staff conference was marked by an important session on our university’s new Anti-racism strategy. GdM (DVC, EDI Lead and Kent’s Race Champion) hosted a staff discussion and Q&A, together with a panel of colleagues instrumental in the development of our strategy.

You can listen to a recording of the event.

Slides to accompany the event – Staff Conference anti-racism strategy slides

Key feedback from the session include:

*making sure that experiences and stories are incorporated into our anti-racism work (along with more quantitative forms of data).

*being as transparent as possible about what we are doing, so that we can get the most out of this living-breathing process and associated work plans.

In response to this feedback we will be continuing to update our Challenging Racism pages so that this can serve as one part of a broader suite of mechanisms for feedback and transparency in our work around EDI. We will also be looking to join up important insights from across the institution, including but not limited to the important experiential information and recommendations which have emerged from the BAME Staff Network’s survey and project.

To amplify work that is already happening across Kent in support of our approach to anti-racism, we’d also like to draw your attention to other key updates at this time:

*Inform Kent (InK) has changed to Report + Support. The Report + Support page can be found on the website. The page gives the option to give an anonymous report or a report with details that Ken can follow up on. In both cases your confidentiality will be respected in-line with our safeguarding policies. This page also collates all of the help and support pages into one, to increase access to the resources that may be most helpful to you at the time.

*The staff reporting tool can still be accessed via links found on the “Reporting Incidents” page.

Just a reminder that this reporting tool is for any sort of incident that occurs, irrespective of whether the incident involves another member of staff.

We hope that staff and students will feel encouraged to report incidents and that the experience of doing so feels helpful and supportive.  Where sufficient information is shared, we hope to enable effective, timely resolutions and support.  Your experience at Kent is important to us.  If for any reason you have concerns about reporting, do please speak to a Harassment Adviser or someone you trust within the institution, as we’d like to ensure you get the support you need.

World Menopause Day – Monday 18 October 2021

Monday 18 October 2021 is World Menopause Day. At Kent, we support staff as they go through different stages of their life.

Menopause is a natural life event that many of our colleagues will experience.  We want to ensure that staff are supported throughout this time, now and in the future. We have curated a range of resources (see below) to help individuals and managers gain a deeper understanding of how to support colleagues before, during and after menopause, including making necessary provisions and adjustments if and when symptoms necessitate this.

If you are currently experiencing symptoms and feel this is impacting on you at work speak to your manager who may decide you would benefit from advice from OH on appropriate adjustments and complete a Management Referral

If you are a manager and have a member of staff who is experiencing symptoms that are impacting them at work, we encourage you to avail yourself of the resources below and to have supportive conversations, to ensure colleagues have the necessary adjustments to help minimise the impacts to them at work at this time. Please be led by staff and their needs – which may fluctuate.

Resources

As part of our membership with Inclusive Employers, we have access to a number of resources including the menopause tool kit

The tool kit aims to equip workplaces with the necessary information, guidance and resources to improve how they support colleagues (including women and some men, trans and non-binary people) before, during and after the menopause.

We also have additional guidance on the Occupational Health webpages, which has details of the EAP and OH referral and the link to the  Women’s Staff Network, which has some further resources relating to the Menopause, as well as the Inclusion passport.

In addition, a virtual Menopause awareness session, delivered by Positive Pause is planned for Wednesday 20 October from 13.00-14.00 and bookable via Staff Connect. As part of the session, you will:

  1. Learn about menopause symptoms and the potential impact of menopause, plus the range of self-care and management options available.
  2. Find out what support is available and how to access it, both in, and outside of, the workplace.
  3. Develop confident conversation frameworks to help with discussions at work, at home and with GPs

Helping everyone

From the resources, you will see that there are some general adjustments that could be considered to ensure everyone feels more comfortable, such as:

  • Ventilation systems in rooms as well as individual/desk access to fans.
  • Engaging providers that use breathable fabrics and materials – for any staff that require a uniform or prescribed work wear.

Some of these changes may support staff who are also experiencing menopause symptoms.  The changes could also usefully be considered in environments in which we hold events.

It’s helpful to note that, while menopause is not in itself a disability, severe symptoms may constitute disabilities.

Report and support. New reporting tool

New Report and Support tool for students

We are pleased to announce a new online reporting tool for reporting student incidents of sexual misconduct and assault, harassment (non-sexual), assault, bullying, discrimination and hate incidents. This replaces the previous inform Kent (inK) system ​and helps Kent students to get the support they need promptly.

The Report and Support online tool allows both anonymous and named reports. If you choose to provide identifiable information, we will be able to contact you to offer support or discuss ways that you can (if you wish to) report the incident formally. By deciding to report anonymously, you will be providing information that will help us to make our university the safest ​environment it can be. Anonymous information will be reviewed at regular intervals throughout the year, to ensure that we are ​monitoring incidents reported and putting ​new strategies in place where needed.

Take a look at Report and Support online for about how to report, and well as several support articles relating to these incidents. It may be worth familiarising yourself with the tool in case you or a friend needs to use it to make a report in future, and you can also find information on positive safety campaigns and ways in which you can get involved in promoting a culture of respect at Kent.

Have your voice heard. Visit Report and Support now.

 

Signing a document

Adopting the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism

Following an extensive consultation with staff, students, members of the Jewish community at Kent, Ethics committee and Council, the University has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism 

Signing up to a definition of antisemitism is an important statement of our solidarity with the Jewish community in recognition of the hurt many are feeling due to rising discrimination. The IHRA definition seeks to build an international consensus around a non-legally binding definition of what antisemitism means to help tackle the rise in anti-Jewish hate.  

There was a strong feeling during consultation that Kent should have a commitment in this area. Alongside this, following some concerns throughout consultation over some aspects of the IHRA definition being open to misinterpretation, the Jerusalem Declaration of Antisemitism (JDA) has been also approved to support with interpretation after feedback from staff, students, Senate and wider legal advice. 

As a University we are committed to academic freedom and free speech, and to building a diverse, inclusive environment to enable people to reach their potential free from prejudice. The adoption of the IHRA is an important step in ensuring our Jewish community feel safe on campus and we will be sharing more information on implementation as part of our continued work to tackle discrimination and racism.  

International Nonbinary People’s Day – 14 July

14 July is International Nonbinary People’s Day, where we celebrate the contributions and resilience of nonbinary people worldwide. We also join with people around the world raise awareness of the issues faced by nonbinary people. Nonbinary people do not identify with the binary distinctions of ‘man’ and ‘woman’. In the UK, nonbinary people face poor mental health, physical harassment and ongoing discrimination.

To address this at Kent, we encourage you to engage with learning about the experiences of nonbinary people. The Stonewall “10 ways to step up as an Ally” highlights some steps that you can take as an individual to build an increasingly inclusive community at Kent. At Kent, our pronoun guide can help with creating an inclusive culture for everyone in our community. Our LGBT+ Staff network and student network are welcoming to all – the  Kent LGBT+ Staff Network blog has many resources, for both members of the community and allies, including a post wishing you a Happy International Nonbinary People’s Day!

We recognise there is more work to do in creating an inclusive community for nonbinary members of our community at Kent, and we encourage you to report incidents of harassment so that we can address systemic discriminations.

Throughout the day, stories written by nonbinary people will be shared on social media through the hashtags #internationalnonbinaryday and  #ThisIsWhatNonBinaryLooksLike – this is an opportunity to learn of the experience of nonbinary people and to amplify their voices.

BAME Staff Network statement in response to racism following England’s defeat in Euro 2020 final

From the Co-chairs of the BAME Staff Network:

Dear BAME Staff Network members and all University staff and students,

The BAME Staff Network wishes to express solidarity with all members of the Black staff and student university community, our local Black community in Canterbury and Medway, and our Black brothers and sisters across the nation in what has been a very upsetting and disturbing run of events following England’s defeat in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday. The racism to which the three marvellous England football team players, Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford, have been subjected to, is despicable – yet many people in the Black community have said, not surprising.  Indeed, many of them sadly predicted what unfolded, evidencing that we are still very much living in a society where racism is prevalent and where many Black members of our community continue to feel unfairly treated.

Yet again, we are reminded of how quickly the tide can turn when it comes to matters of race and how progress can be so seriously threatened – from Black Lives Matters, to unhindered and overt racism. There is so much more we as co-chairs can say, but for now we wish to acknowledge the deep hurt such abusive comments have caused to the players, their families and friends, and to all of our fellow Black citizens.

We wish to remind everyone of the policies against racism and harassment and the support services based at the university, should you feel the need to access these:

https://www.kent.ac.uk/hr-staffinformation/policies/dignity.html

https://www.kent.ac.uk/challenging-racism

https://www.kent.ac.uk/equality-diversity-inclusivity/harassment

https://www.kent.ac.uk/student-support

https://livekentac.sharepoint.com/sites/MentalHealthSupport

https://www.kent.ac.uk/equality-diversity-inclusivity/reporting-incidents

The events reaffirm the absolute need for us all to continue our discussions on race but more importantly, to take action at an individual and organisational level and have the courage to challenge any form of discrimination, overt or covert. Only through this collective action can we dismantle the structures which allow such behaviour to continue.

As the BAME Staff Network, we will certainly continue to engage in relevant discourses and action in coming months, and keep working towards dismantling systemic racism through our committed efforts as educators. If anyone wishes to contact the network co-chairs, even if it is simply to talk through how they feel about these events, please email bamestaffnetwork@kent.ac.uk and we will arrange a suitable time to talk with you.

Take care all,

Vanisha, Bridget, Barbara and Dave
Co-chairs of the BAME Staff Network

Pride Picnic heading on tartan blanket

Join our Pride Picnic on Monday 28 June

28 June marks the 52nd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in 1969, and so LGBT+ colleagues and allies are warmly invited to join us on the Canterbury Campus from 17.00 on that Monday for a low-key post-work picnic.

Bring yourself, some drinks and some nibbles and meet us on the lawns between Rutherford and Eliot Colleges. All LGBT+ staff and allies are welcome. University of Kent rainbow lanyards will be available for anyone who wants one while stocks last!

For more information contact lgbtstaffnetwork@kent.ac.uk.

Supporting our trans and non-binary colleagues at Kent

We at the University of Kent are committed to fostering a positive working environment where all staff are treated fairly, with dignity, courtesy, respect and consideration. All staff have a responsibility to create an environment that is free from harassment, bullying, unlawful discrimination and victimisation.

In recent years, the trans and non-binary community has become more visible in society and the public eye. We have been pleased to see increased awareness of the diversity of the trans community and increased understanding of the breadth of gender identities. Unfortunately, this increased visibility has come with increased hostility towards some members of the trans community.

Trans and non-binary people face discrimination and harassment:

  • At work, including from colleagues, managers, customers and clients;
  • In public, including verbal and physical abuse;
  • Online, particularly on social media where targeted harassment, bullying and abusive comments and even attempts to find and share trans people’s previous names and current address are increasingly common;
  • They also face barriers to accessing healthcare, such as long waiting lists for treatment, and  transphobia.

We will not stand by while trans people are fighting discrimination every day on multiple fronts, and facing harassment and violence. We are committed to trans inclusion. Recent news events and discussions related to Stonewall have amplified the discussion, particularly online, and we have published our response to this confirming our continued membership of Stonewall. This response underlines our commitment to freedom of speech, academic freedom, and inclusion, which are all University values.

As an institution, we are committed to speaking out when we witness or hear transphobia, challenging decisions that exclude trans people, including ways of thinking that perpetuate a rigid gender binary, learning how best we can support our trans colleagues at all times and educating ourselves and those around us.

For members of our trans, nonbinary and intersex communities

Gender neutral toilets

We recognise that this is a particular concern for trans members of our community, and we have maps of both our Canterbury and Medway campuses highlighting the location of gender neutral toilets.

Network support

Join our communities – the Staff LGBT+ Network, Kent Union LGBTQ+ Network and Trans, non-binary, intersex and questioning peer support group are here to support you.

Harassment reporting

We fully support and encourage all our students and staff to report incidents of racism, harassment and discrimination.

This is though INK for Students or the Reporting Tool for Staff.

For allies

We recognise that it can be challenging to know how to support other members of our community facing discrimination and harassment or speaking out when we witness or hear transphobia. Below are some actions that you can take.

Update your email signatures

Add your pronouns to your email signature, (Pronouns means how you identify — he/him, she/her, they/them, for instance — and how you’d like other people to refer to you. This is a great, inclusive practice for everyone, even or especially if you’re cisgender – if you’re not sure what this means, Stonewall have put together a helpful glossary).

Active Bystander training

‘Active Bystander’ is an innovative and award-winning training session which gives staff and students the skills to challenge unacceptable behaviours, including those which may have become normalised over time.

We have three sessions planned which are 90 minutes long running in June/July and August all bookable via Staff Connect. Students have an online Bystander module that is part of the expect respect module within the student moodle.

The session includes:

  • A video demonstrating bystander apathy
  • References to high profile examples of inappropriate/unacceptable behaviour
  • Decision-making techniques to help people overcome fear and self- doubt when faced with a challenging situation
  • Assertiveness techniques to give them the confidence and tools to speak out, whether they are dealing with the challenge directly or calling for help from others.

Each session features four scenarios of negative behaviour, and there is group discussion and interactivity as part of this.

Learn more about the challenges members of our community face

Online training in Staff training Moodle on – Transgender Awareness and LGBTQI – these are easily accessible, available at any time and give an introduction to the challenges members of our community face. We recommend that all staff engage with these training opportunities.

Access resources

Using the resources available removes the burden of questions, explanations and discussions from members of the trans community – the links below are an excellent starting point for people wanting to understand more.

Our LGBT+ network have a fantastic blog that covers ongoing news, events and challenges – stay up to date with the issues affecting the community.

Mermaids UK and Stonewall have easily accessible resources and Q&A that cover many of the relevant issues.

National Day for Staff Networks

From the Talent & Organisational Development Team:

On Wednesday 12 May 2021 Staff networks in organisations across the UK are celebrating the National Day for Staff Networks.

Also known as Networks Day, it aims to encourage collaboration, support aligned activity and further inspire the voice of network members. Many staff networks provide employees from under-represented groups with valuable guidance and timely advice as they navigate their organisation’s culture and endeavour to offer their authentic best in the workplace. ​

The theme for 2021 is #Togetherness.  

Why not connect with one of our Staff networks?

The Networks provide an opportunity for new and existing staff to meet people outside their own department.

Meetings run termly and dates are advertised on the website Staff Equalities Networks – Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity – University of Kent

The EDI Forum

The overall purpose of the EDI network is to represent the views of staff and students, and act as a channel of communication for equality, diversity and inclusivity topics. Membership includes the departmental EDI Representatives, Staff and Student networks, harassment contacts and student union.

EDI Network – Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity – University of Kent and join in the conversation on the EDI forum Teams site

The LGBT+ Staff Network

The network aims to raise the profile and promote positive attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) staff and all colleagues in the Rainbow Community across the university. We support LGBT+ colleagues in the workplace, and aim to contribute to the development of relevant university policies and practices so that they are LGBT-inclusive, so that Kent is truly a welcoming space for colleagues of all sexualities and gender identities. It has a Microsoft Teams channel which you can join by using the code skd6691.

LGBT+ Staff Network – Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity – University of Kent

The Disability Staff Network (DSN)

The Disability Staff Network’s ambition is to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for colleagues with disabilities at Kent. Its purpose is to support disabled staff and those staff working with disability or with an interest in disability. It provides a forum to share information and consider good practice, providing recommendations to enhance University policy and practice where appropriate.

The DSN has a Teams/SharePoint page. If you experience any issues with accessing this please email dsnchair@kent.ac.uk to request to be added.

Disability Staff Network – Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity – University of Kent

The Women’s Network

The Women’s Network has been running since 2004 and has been a positive initiative over the last few years. At a time when the University is keen to promote the recruitment, retention and recognition of women in higher education, and Kent in particular, the women’s network has been a group that offered valuable support to members, and feedback to the University on priorities for action.

Women’s Network – Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity – University of Kent

Harassment contacts

The harassment contacts comprise of individual members of staff who have volunteered to take on the role of the harassment contact. The University has appointed and trained some members of staff as harassment contacts to allow staff a point of contact should they feel they have been subjected to or witnessed any form of harassment.

Harassment Contacts – Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity – University of Kent

The BAME Staff Network

The BAME Staff Network launched in October 2019 to support the University’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusivity and provide an active forum for BAME staff to discuss issues and share experiences important to them. The network bring a range of experience and knowledge related to both staff and students – critical to a nuanced contextual understanding of BAME experiences at the University. It creates a community for academic and professional staff who identify as being part of a Black Asian Minority ethnic group.  The aim is to help each other connect in ways that will create a sense of belonging through sharing our experiences and providing support that will drive progressive equitable change. Email: bamestaffnetwork@kent.ac.uk

BAME Network – Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity – University of Kent

Other networks – Contact Equalityanddiversity@kent.ac.uk for further information 

WREN – Women’s Researcher Network

Inclusion Allies and Mental Health Allies

Allyship is an active, consistent, and arduous practice of unlearning and re-evaluating, in which a person in a position of privilege and power seeks to operate in solidarity with a marginalized group