Race Equality Strategy and Action Plan

In Spring 2019, we launched our Race Equality Strategy and Action Plan, which aims at improving the representation, progression and success of Black, Asian and Other Minority Ethnic (BAME) students and staff through the creation of an inclusive culture within the University.

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Our Race Equality Strategy and Action Plan is a live document which will be reviewed, updated and amended over time, as we progress the actions and learn from our experience, our community and experts in this area.

We will continue to seek views and are setting up a University Race Equality Steering Group, which includes students and staff BAME colleagues to monitor and review the progress of our action plan and to shape the future development of this work.

Our challenge is to attract, engage and develop staff and students from many different backgrounds, and support them to reach their full potential.

To do this, we need to fully understand the barriers, and develop strategies to overcome them.

We have met with stakeholders and listened to our staff and students about the issues they face in relation to race equality.

Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee has worked with colleagues to gather information about the issues at our University and has received reports from a number of staff engaged in undertaking research into the award (attainment) gap.

We have taken account of research and interventions at other universities and considered evidence from sector bodies; and in 2018, a University Task and Finish group on Tackling Racism was convened to specifically engage with student voices and gather further evidence and ideas of how to progress this key priority.

Our University Race Equality Action Plan is the result of this partnership work between students, staff and the University.

We aspire to address the main issues highlighted and focus on actions that aim to improve the representation, progression and success of Black, Asian and Other Minority Ethnic (BAME) students and staff, both home and overseas.


Summary and objectives

It is vital that we take a holistic approach to race equality if we are to effect transformational change.

Our strategy specifically targets issues of under-representation, progression and attainment, and aims to create a University community which is diverse and inclusive.

To achieve this, we have identified five key objectives to be delivered via an action plan, covering all aspects of University life:

  1. Reduce the award (attainment) gap between BAME and White students to zero.
  2. Widen access to students from BAME backgrounds and support these students to succeed once at TUoS.
  3. Improve graduate outcomes and progression to postgraduate education for BAME students.
  4. Increase the diversity of the staff body and support the career progression of BAME staff.
  5. Create an inclusive campus culture that facilitates belonging and promotes respect for BAME students and staff, and the wider BAME community.

Our research

We set out to understand what was happening at our University. We looked at staff and student data, and met with senior managers, University committees, staff and student networks and Students’ Union Officers.

We wanted to find ways to improve the representation, progression and success of BAME students and staff and to create an inclusive culture where all staff and students can fulfil their potential.

There is also growing scrutiny and expectation from national and sector bodies, and from our own staff and students, about the need for universities to demonstrate progress in closing the differential award (attainment) gap, and in improving the representation and progression of BAME staff and students.

Significant issues coming out of sector research, supported by what our staff and students have told us, include, but are not limited to:

  • the importance of creating a sense of belonging;
  • the impact of micro-aggressions which takes the energy and focus of BAME staff and students away from studying and performing to a high standard;
  • the necessity to understand the impact of white privilege before change can be made;
  • the need to move away from a deficit model (‘fixing the student’) to a systemic, transformational strategy in relation to the award (attainment) gap;
  • the importance of all our staff becoming effective change agents, with a clear acknowledgement that this is everyone’s responsibility.

    Representation, progression and attainment

    The issues with BAME staff and student representation and progression, and differential student attainment, are well known across the sector, and are reflected at our University.

    Black students continue to be underrepresented in applications to Russell Group universities

    Black students made up 3.1 per cent of 18-year old applicants in 2017 compared to 4.5 per cent of the general young population (Russell Group, 2018).

    Black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi applicants to Russell Group universities are substantially less likely to be offered places even when they have the same A-level grades as their White peers (Shiner & Modood, 2002).

    In 2016–17 there was a 5 per cent gap in attainment between BAME students and their White counterparts amongst Russell Group universities. This widened to 11 per cent amongst non-Russell Group universities (Russell Group, 2018).

    University of Sheffield award (attainment) gap of 8.5 per cent in 2018

    At a national level, several studies have shown that UK BAME students are less likely to achieve ‘good’ 1st/2:1 degree outcomes than their White peers.

    HEFCE data shows that this award (attainment) gap exists even when prior attainment is taken into account (see the download for Figure 1).

    The University of Sheffield data reflected the national picture in demonstrating the persistence of an award (attainment) gap after controlling for prior attainment.

    UK BAME staff make up less than 10% of professors in universities

    National data shows UK BAME staff make up 9.7 per cent of the professoriate, dropping to 3.7 per cent for non-UK BAME staff (Advance HE, 2018).

    University workforce data shows little change in the overall representation of BAME staff since 2015

    The low percentage of BAME professors nationally is reflected at the University where there has been only a small increase in the numbers of BAME professors between 2015 and 2017.

    University data also shows a leaky pipeline for both academic and professional services roles. BAME staff are concentrated in certain grades, with low representation within professional services roles at all levels.

    As one member of staff said to us: “When you look at the diversity of Sheffield there is no reason why we shouldn’t have more diversity in the make up of our professional services.”

    It is also clear from the data that staff BAME figures are being largely driven by international BAME staff, and that there are a large number of ‘unknowns’ in relation to workforce data (see download for Figure 2).


    Our University culture

    Our BAME students highlighted particular areas of concern. They reported that they sometimes felt ‘othered’ by the prevailing culture and environment of the institution.

    “They just look at you like you’re not the same as them because of how you wear your hair or just how you’re different.”

    One student reported having to dedicate thinking space to: “how to reduce our blackness” with another saying “You have to put on your white self to progress.”

    The under-representation of BAME staff may have a double impact, resulting in both a potential lack of academic role models for BAME students, but also a lack of support staff with first-hand experience of the issues they face (Awan et al., 2017).

    This is supported by what some University students told us during the consultations, and by wider research revealing high levels of anxiety experienced by many students who have successfully gained access to HE, connected to “the residual memory of shame from earlier educational experiences” (Burke 2014, p. 22, cited in Alexander & Arday, 2015).

    When you are from a specific community or ethnic background, you have to work that much harder just to make yourself stand out.” (University of Sheffield student)

    A significant minority of Black students feel that they are differentially treated and assessed compared to their White peers on account of racial stereotyping and implicit bias; with some also reporting experiences of direct racism (NUS, 2011).

    Sector research highlights that BAME staff feel under greater scrutiny and have to do more to prove themselves than their White peers, with some reporting that different standards are applied to performance based on ethnicity (ECU, 2009, 2015; Bhopal, 2015).

    University staff also raised issues around representation, progression and culture:

    “Negotiating whiteness is the most challenging way to describe the everyday experience. The sense that whatever it takes to excel here, it’s not quite you. I accept it’s an insecurity but I think there are a thousand and one external messages that circulate TUoS culture that reinforce this sense.” (University of Sheffield member of staff)


    Actions

    1. Reduce the award (attainment) gap between BAME and White students to zero

    Actions

    Action 1a

    Continue to analyse degree classifications for each subject by specific group looking at per cent of all first-degree qualifiers who gained 1st or 2:1 (including dentistry and medicine – where unclassified).

    Outcome

    Greater understanding of the scale and nature of award (attainment) gaps.

    Responsibility

    VPE, WPREU, FDLTs working in partnership with FED&ICs.

    Review date

    Annually


    Action 1b

    Bring together expertise and evidence from across the University and externally, to develop context and discipline specific understanding of the issues and to identify appropriate interventions aligned with OfS requirements and wider University activity.

    For example:

    • Review of learning, teaching and assessment practices to develop and ensure an inclusive curriculum, as part of PLA processes.
    • Consideration of learning and outputs from the Raising Awareness, Raising Aspiration (RARA) project, including roll-out to the wider University.

    Outcome

    Community of practice ‘hub’ in place, tasked with working collaboratively to address the issues, and with identifying and sharing good practice.

    Inclusive curriculum where all students can see themselves in the curriculum, and improved understanding of how modes of assessment can impact on attainment.

    Successful support for BAME students in order to tackle the award (attainment) gap.

    Responsibility

    VPE

    Review date

    2019 for hub and project work mapped out.


    Action 1c

    Implicit Bias (IB) training integrated into all initial and ongoing programmes (for example: Elevate, CILT etc.) as part of wider mandatory training on IB for all staff.

    Outcome

    All teaching staff are aware of IB, and able to apply inclusive teaching methods.

    Responsibility

    VPE

    Review date

    2020

    2. Widen access to students from BAME backgrounds and to support these students to succeed once at the University of Sheffield

    Actions

    Action 2a

    Explore existing evidence and develop context and discipline-specific actions, including looking at patterns of applications, offers and acceptances (link to the good practice ‘hub’ on student attainment – as per action 1b).

    Outcome

    Greater understanding of the issues at application, offer and acceptance stages.

    Responsibility

    VPE, WPREU, SAGSNAF, FVPs and recruitment leads.

    Review date

    Annually


    Action 2b

    Develop targets at a University and faculty level, integrated into Access Agreement, and ensure staff involved in interviewing and admissions decisions receive Implicit Bias training.

    Outcome

    Interventions developed as a result of analysis that addresses issues at each stage, in order to increase applications, offers and acceptances.

    Responsibility

    VPE, WPREU, SAGSNAF

    Review date

    2021


    Action 2c

    Identify and develop interventions, including drawing on existing external good practice, to best support students whilst at the University.

    Outcome

    Interventions developed, implemented and evaluated.

    Responsibility

    VPE, FVPs, FEDICs

    Review date

    2021


    Action 2d

    Review open days and supporting materials, and develop faculty actions, to ensure an authentic representation of diversity.

    Outcome

    Increase applications/offer making and recruitment of BAME students.

    Responsibility

    SRA teams, FVPs and FDOs, FED&ICs.

    Review date

    2020


    Action 2e

    Include training for Open Day Ambassadors on how to be actively inclusive, specifically as part of residences tours for all students.

    Outcome

    Create more diverse communities within the residencies.

    Responsibility

    SRA teams

    Review date

    2019


    Action 2f

    Develop outreach activity to target students from BAME backgrounds – including BAME students from the local area - including recruiting BAME student ambassadors to take part in schools’ outreach activities.

    Outcome

    Increase applications/offer making and recruitment of BAME students.

    Responsibility

    SRA, WP team

    Review date

    2020

    3. Improve graduate outcomes and progression to postgraduate education for BAME students

    Actions

    Action 3a

    Mobilise alumni to mentor/support BAME students.

    Outcome

    Support and mentoring programme developed for BAME students, with a number of places across all faculties.

    Responsibility

    VPE, DARE, Careers Service, Corporate Communications.

    Review date

    2021


    Action 3b

    Identify and ring-fence work experience opportunities for BAME students where appropriate, and introduce and further develop targeted advertising to BAME students of such opportunities.

    Outcome

    Work experience bursaries/ internships and scholarships targeted at BAME students, resulting in an increase in BAME student participation.

    Responsibility

    VPE, Careers Service, Students’ Union to cascade information, Residence Life.

    Review date

    2021


    Action 3c

    Faculties to engage with their own BAME students to develop information, guidance and advice about PG study.

    Outcome

    Guidance developed, with PG students reporting it is helpful for them.

    Responsibility

    VPE, FDLTs and PGR leads.

    Review date

    2020


    Action 3d

    Identify and proactively approach BAME students about further study, taking learning from HEFCE project on progression for BAME students and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

    Outcome

    Increase in numbers of BAME students continuing onto PG study.

    Responsibility

    VPE, FDLTs and PGR leads.

    Review date

    Ongoing

    4. Increase the diversity of the staff body and support the career progression of BAME staff

    Actions

    Action 4a

    Review profile of senior BAME staff at University and faculty level, and identify actions to support the University’s KPI of increasing the percentage of professorial and senior staff who are BAME.

    Outcome

    UEB, FEBs and Professional Services heads to identify and implement local actions that aim to improve representation of senior BAME staff. Improved diversity of leadership and academic pipeline; improved representation of BAME staff University wide.

    Responsibility

    HR, UEB.

    Review date

    September 2019 for data review; Ongoing monitoring and review via ED&IC.


    Action 4b

    Review profile of professional services BAME staff at University level – grades 1-5; develop and share good practice examples of actions that can be taken which aim to improve representation, taking local workforce data into account.

    Outcome

    FVPs, PSF members and PSLG identify and implement actions that aim to improve representation. Improved ethnic diversity of professional services staff.

    Responsibility

    HR, UEB, PSLG, PSF.

    Review date

    September 2019 for data review; 2020 for target to be in place.


    Action 4c

    Through the Power of Difference approach to recruitment and selection, continue to take positive actions including, for example:

    • targeted adverts and ATJs to specifically attract more BAME applicants and action taken to de-bias selection processes;
    • use of role models to build advocacy; and sharing of case studies to build knowledge and share good practice via webpages.

    Outcome

    Evidence of recruiting managers writing inclusive job adverts, and of diverse talent pools applying for jobs; improved success rate at shortlisting and appointment leading to improved workforce diversity.

    Responsibility

    HR FVPs Heads of Professional Services and Departments.

    Review date

    Good practice examples on the web by September 2019. Ongoing action, reviewed annually.


    Action 4d

    Develop and roll out mandatory Implicit Bias training for all staff, drawing on internal academic expertise and research to develop the training.

    Outcome

    All staff undertake IB training, to better understand and mitigate against bias in decision making. Increase in BAME successful applicants until BAME applicants are successful at every stage of recruitment and selection, in proportion with their percentage.

    Responsibility

    HR

    Review date

    Developed by January 2020.


    Action 4e

    Ongoing support for the BAME staff network (see actions under number Objective 5), including encouragement for BAME academic staff to participate in mentoring.

    Outcome

    Improved access to professional networks/ development for BAME staff.

    Responsibility

    HR, BAME staff network.

    Review date

    Ongoing


    Action 4f

    Introduce equality, diversity and inclusion objectives to be embedded into the academic planning round.

    Outcome

    Planning document reflects and acts as a driver for workforce planning discussions that include a specific focus on diversity and inclusion, reflecting local and institutional needs.

    Responsibility

    Provost and DVC Director of Planning and Insight.

    Review date

    February 2020, review annually.


    Action 4g

    Address the lack of diversity on Committees and Boards.

    Outcome

    Improved representation of BAME staff on Committees and Boards, leading to increased contributions of BAME staff in decision making.

    Responsibility

    University Secretary.

    Review date

    Ongoing, review annually.


    Action 4h

    Develop guidance to support the career progression of BAME staff, with a particular focus on Early Career Researchers (ECR).

    Outcome

    Guidance developed jointly with BAME network and ECR sub-group.

    Responsibility

    HR, Research Services, Women’s Network, ECR sub-group.

    Review date

    January 2020


    Action 4i

    Consider and analyse progression data for BAME and non-BAME staff.

    Outcome

    BAME staff progress at same rate and in proportion to the pool being drawn from.

    Responsibility

    HR (Policy and ED&I), URRP, and UEDIC and FEDICs.

    Review date

    First data reviewed by April 2019, and annually thereafter.


    Action 4j

    Undertake analysis of ethnicity pay gaps, aligning to legislative developments as appropriate.

    Outcome

    Identification of pay gaps where ethnicity may be a factor, resulting in targeted action.

    Responsibility

    HR, GPG, and Equal Pay working group.

    Review date

    2020 and annually thereafter.

    5. Create an inclusive campus culture that facilitates belonging and promotes respect for BAME students and staff and the wider BAME community, measured by increased sense of belonging reported in staff and student surveys.

    Actions

    Action 5a

    Run a number of events annually, including to mark national events such as Black History Month, Chinese New Year etc.

    Outcome

    Events to mark Black History Month in order to celebrate diversity, raise Black visibility, and engage students and staff to work together. Further events to be held throughout the academic year.

    Group of BAME staff who actively engage with the University on this priority, and who create a safe space for BAME staff to come together and discuss issues, working on specific awareness-raising activities.

    Responsibility

    HR, BAME staff and student networks, Students’ Union, Residence Life.

    Timescale

    BAME network launched Oct 2018. Annually in October tied to Black History Month. Ongoing events at other times.


    Action 5b

    Develop and run an online and poster campaign profiling BAME staff and students.

    Outcomes

    Increased visibility of BAME staff and students across campus and electronic screens etc.

    Responsibility

    Director of HR and Corporate Communications, Students’ Union, BAME staff and student networks.

    Timescale

    Launched March 2019, and ongoing.


    Action 5c

    Development of publicity materials to raise awareness of the BAME staff network and create a visual identity for use in University events and across social media, including a penguin banner, postcards, and a logo.

    Outcomes

    Sense of identity developed for the network, and strong visual branding that is easily recognised, to help create a safe space for BAME staff to engage with colleagues. Staff report in the Staff Survey that they are aware of the BAME staff network.

    Responsibility

    Director of HR and Corporate Communications, BAME staff network.

    Timescale

    June 2019 for materials.


    Action 5d

    Inductions for all new students and for student support staff, to include sessions / information on anti-racism.

    Outcomes

    Training in place for all new students, as part of induction, to encourage active inclusion by students.

    Responsibility

    Director of Student Support Services.

    Timescale

    2019


    Action 5e

    Residence Life Mentors in University accommodation to embed anti-racism information into existing training.

    Outcomes

    Clear anti-racism messages embedded into training events taking place in the Residencies. Students report confidence in understanding/able to talk about race.

    Responsibility

    ACS and Residence Life.

    Timescale

    Reviewed annually.


    Action 5f

    Review process for allocating accommodation to new students.

    Outcomes

    Diverse student body in University residences.

    Responsibility

    ACS

    Timescale

    2019 and reviewed annually.


    Action 5g

    Anti-racism/active bystander messages are clearly apparent in volunteering programmes and cohesion promoting activities.

    Outcomes

    Clear anti-racism messages embedded into student led programmes and societies.

    Responsibility

    Students' Union.

    Timescale

    Developed by 2019 for new academic year. Reviewed annually.


    Action 5h

    Advance HE training on race equality held for key stakeholders across University and Students’ Union staff.

    Outcome

    Advance HE training in race equality attended by key stakeholders, including members of UEB, chairs of faculty ED&I committees, members of ED&IC, members of the BAME staff network, HR and Students’ Union managers.

    Responsibility

    HR and Students’ Union.

    Review date

    February 2019 Ongoing for further groups as required.


    Action 5i

    Consideration of how BAME issues can be included in L&T conference.

    Outcome

    Learning and Teaching conference includes a focus on BAME and inclusive curriculum.

    Responsibility

    VPE, FDLTS, and Students’ Union.

    Review date

    2021


    Action 5j

    Engagement and knowledge exchange with other universities to learn and share good practice.

    Outcome

    Connections established with universities who have good practice we can learn from, with wider network of HE developed.

    Responsibility

    BAME staff network, WPREU, HR, UEDIC.

    Review date

    Visits to take place during 2019-21.


    Action 5k

    Open day ambassador training to include information on anti-racism.

    Outcome

    Training embedded into support for Open Day Ambassadors.

    Responsibility

    Student Recruitment and Admissions.

    Review date

    2019


    Action 5l

    Establish BAME allies/champions for change community.

    Outcome

    Promote inclusive behaviours Greater understanding of the power of allies, with demonstrable improvements in culture measured by surveys/increased reporting.

    A network of diversity champions skilled and able to be active bystanders.

    Responsibility

    Provost and DVC, UEDIC, HR, BAME staff network.

    Review date

    Establish 2019 and review annually.


    Action 5m

    Provide Anti-Racism Awareness/white privilege training (including bystander intervention training) – tied to allies programme.

    Outcome

    Session well attended with high levels of engagement amongst allies, leading to improved confidence, and knowledge of white privilege.

    Responsibility

    HR, BAME staff network.

    Review date

    March 2019 and ongoing.


    Action 5n

    Develop University level webpages to host the BAME strategy and action plan, Wall of BAME, information relating to career support, and links to BAME staff network, BME Student Committee and Community of Practice ‘hub’.

    Site to include institutional race equality resources; and examples of best practice to be shared.

    Outcome

    Knowledge sharing resource established, and used by faculty ED&I committees and others.

    Responsibility

    Corporate Communications, HR, BAME staff network.

    Review date

    March 2019 for initial set up.


    Action 5o

    Mapping of reporting routes, with campaign to encourage reporting.

    Outcome

    Increased guidance on/ awareness of and confidence in hate crime reporting.

    Responsibility

    Student Support Services, Security Services, SU.

    Review date

    2019 and reviewed annually.

    The following institutional level actions aim to support the achievement of these objectives

    Actions

    Action one

    Instigate a University level Race Equality Steering Group with representation from the SU, student BME committee and BAME staff network, to oversee strategy and action plan, reporting to ED&IC.

    Action plan to be reviewed annually, and aligned with the University strategy.

    Outcome

    Strategic level steering group, leading on implementation of this action plan. Seen as a priority by staff and students.

    Responsibility

    Provost and DVC.

    Timescale

    September 2019 to be convened. Reviewed annually thereafter.


    Action two

    Annual staff and student data packs to be generated for consideration by the UEDIC and University Race Equality Steering Group.

    Outcome

    Trend data analysed and actions developed accordingly.

    Responsibility

    Planning and Insight team.

    Timescale

    Annually


    Action three

    Faculty VPS to support FED&I committees and FDL&Ts to develop objectives and activities to support this priority.

    Outcome

    Faculty focused targets and actions that contribute to the University strategy.

    Responsibility

    FVPs, Faculty ED&I Chairs, FDL&T.

    Timescale

    2021


    Action four

    Run disclosure campaign to improve equality data, to support ED&I agenda.

    Outcome

    Improved disclosure rates across all Protected Characteristics.

    Responsibility

    HR

    Timescale

    April 2019


    Action five

    Consider submitting to the Race Equality Charter – discussion for Race Equality Steering Group.

    Outcome

    Vehicle to help progress this priority area, and provide recognition for ongoing work. Bronze level achieved three years after joining.

    Responsibility

    Provost and DVC, Race Equality Steering Group.

    Timescale

    2021


    References

    References

    Advance HE (2018) Equality + higher education: Staff statistical report 2018 [online]. London: Advance HE. Available from: www.advance-he.ac.uk/resources/2018_ HE-stats-report-staff.pdf

    Alexander, C. and Arday, J. (2015) Aiming Higher: Race, Inequality and Diversity in the Academy [online]. London: Runnymede. Available from: www.runnymedetrust.org/uploads/ Aiming%20Higher.pdf

    Awan, N., Williams, T., Crockford, J., Huntley, S., Hyatt, D., McClelland, N., Miller, M., Padmore, J., Philpott, S., Atom, A. and Claassen, C. M. (2017) You Have to Put on Your White Self to Progress. BME Attainment and Progression Task and Finish Group Report. Sheffield: The University of Sheffield.

    Bhopal, K. (2015) The Experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic Academics: Multiple Identities and Career Progression [online]. London: Runnymede. Available from: www.runnymedetrust.org/uploads/Aiming%20Higher.pdf

    Equality Challenge Unit (2009) The Experience of Black and Minority Ethnic Staff Working in Higher Education [online]. London: ECU. Available from: www.ecu.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/external/experience-of-bme-staff-in-he.pdf

    Equality Challenge Unit (2015) Academic Flight: How To Encourage Black and Minority Ethnic Academics to Stay in the UK [online]. London: ECU. Available from: www.ecu.ac.uk/wp-content/ uploads/2015/03/ECU_Academic-flightfrom-UK-education_RR.pdf

    HEFCE (2015) Differences in degree outcomes: The effect of subject and student characteristics [online]. Bristol: HEFCE. Available from: dera.ioe. ac.uk/24317/1/HEFCE2015_21.pdf

    NUS (2011) Race for Equality [online]. Available from: www.nus.org.uk/ PageFiles/12238/NUS_Race_for_ Equality_web.pdf

    Russell Group (2018) Access, attainment and progression for UK BME students: submission to UUK ethnicity project [online]. Available from: www.russellgroup.ac.uk

    Shiner, M. and Modood, T. (2002) Help or hindrance? Higher Education and the route to ethnic equality. British Journal of Sociology of Education. 23(2), 209-232.


    Contact us

    If you have any questions or feedback about the University's race equality work, you can email raceequality@sheffield.ac.uk.

    Download the PDF report

    Download the full strategy and action plan (PDF, 211KB)

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