New iterations to our race equality strategy and action plan

Since the publication of our Race Equality Strategy and Action Plan in March 2019, we have been taking action to improve race equality at our University.

Our work is led and informed by our staff and students, including the Sheffield Students’ Union and the BME Students’ committee. This work is a key part of the One University pillar within our University vision.

We are committed to driving diversity, equality and inclusion throughout our University community. We want our staff and students to feel empowered to challenge the inequalities they may see or face and contribute towards the actions in our University vision.

We acknowledge that we still have work to do, therefore our strategy and action plan is a live document that continues to 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’ve been holding some difficult but crucial conversations around the different areas of this action plan and we will continue to do so. We have identified key departments and services responsible for leading action in particular areas and our goal is to embed this work within standard University protocols and practices.

Professor Susan Fitzmaurice, Chair of the Race Equality Steering Group, said: "I am pleased and encouraged by the way in which the whole University community has engaged with the Race Equality Strategy and Action Plan over the past two years.

“As readers will see from the updated plan, we have learned a great deal about our institutional culture and our capacity to advance race equality. While we have a distance to travel in key domains, we have a well signposted road and a clear method for reaching those goals.”

 Updated Race Equality Strategy and Action Plan

Video description: Professor Susan Fitzmaurice, Chair of the Race Equality Steering Group explains the importance of our work in progressing race equality at our University, and updates on the new iterations to our Race Equality Strategy and Action Plan in 2021.

What we’ve done so far:

Race Equality Steering group

We’ve set up a Race Equality Steering group with representation from various areas around the University and the Students’ Union to oversee the progress of the Race Equality Strategy and Action Plan. The group reports into our University Council and meets every six weeks to drive forward our list of actions.

Anti-racism training for staff

Over 2,500 staff members have already completed a new online mandatory ED&I training module which was launched in November 2020.

The online e-course provides a baseline understanding of equality and diversity and we will continue to encourage uptake in individual departments. We are working closely with EFM to look at ways we can support more colleagues to access this training.

More than 130 colleagues in senior positions have attended full-day, race equality training workshops delivered by Advance HE. Diverse Minds have delivered online training sessions for staff in Student Support Services including wellbeing advisors and counselling service staff.

Anti-racism training for students

For the last two years, we have created and delivered a three-phase anti-racism programme for all first-year undergraduates that covers our basic principles of race equality and allows students to learn about the complexities of the societal effects of racism through department lectures and workshops.

In 2020, this programme was delivered virtually to over 700 students, including Students’ Union society leaders, sports club committee members and student ambassadors. Feedback indicated that 85.9 per cent know where to access support if someone experiences racial harassment/bullying and 87.7 per cent now have a better understanding of the benefits of a diverse, inclusive curriculum.

Feedback received from attendees of our Race Equality Lectures showed that 85 per cent are more confident about their understanding of racism and microaggression.

Report + Support: A service to report discrimination and harassment

At the end of 2019 we launched Report + Support, a service that enables students, staff and external visitors to the University to report incidents of discrimination and harassment and seek support.

After listening to feedback from staff and students, we have made improvements including; updating our web pages to provide information about what racism is and what support is available for staff and students, details of the reporting process and what happens once a report has been made, as well as working to increase awareness and accessibility of the service in our University community.

Race equality communications subgroup

Events in the UK and around the world such as the Black Lives Matter movements have thrust race inequality into the public spotlight and in order to ensure that our communications strike the correct tone and disseminate the progress of our work accurately, a race equality communications group has been formed.

There are plans to proactively engage in communications on the history of race and racism, sharing communications on the decolonisation of the curriculum and one year on since the start of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Decolonising the curriculum

Brendan Stone, Deputy Vice President for Education and Lily Grimshaw, SU Women’s Officer Co-Chairs of the Curriculum Subgroup, have been working on improving the University's curriculum and teaching through the lens of decolonisation.

We have been engaging in some tough but crucial conversations to understand what decolonisation means for education across all disciplines and through this work the Curriculum subgroup has created a definition of what decolonising the curriculum means at our University and the Elevate team have developed materials to inform teaching staff. This is a vital piece of work that has been led by students nationally and to embed an inclusive culture at universities.

Engaging with ongoing conversations about racial inequalities

We continue to engage in discussions about racial inequalities. Dr Tony Williams and Dr Jules Holroyd hosted an event to discuss implicit biases attended by staff and students. A virtual discussion panel was also held regarding the progress the University has made so far and how best to progress our race equality work.

Advance HE Race Equality Charter Mark

At the beginning of 2020 we formally committed to start work on the charter mark for our institution. The Charter provides a framework for universities to work through to identify institutional and cultural barriers standing in the way of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff and students, covering professional and support staff, academic staff, student progression and awarding and diversity of the curriculum.

Outreach programmes for prospective students

We hired a full time staff member to work on outreach programmes with a specific remit to engage BAME prospective students. They have recently formed a new partnership with the Aziz Foundation to support new Scholarships for British Muslim students at PGT level.

We are beginning to analyse student data from across faculties to help develop a targeted BAME recruitment plan working with our colleagues across Student Recruitment, Marketing and Admissions.

Celebrating our university community - Wall of BAME

We continue to encourage colleagues from all departments and areas of our University who are of Black, Asian or any ethnicity minority to share their stories on our virtual Wall of BAME celebrating staff heritage and diversity. We will also continue to naturally celebrate merit and diversity into other areas of the University. 

To read more about how we are progressing and improving inclusion, including our work on race equality, visit our www.shef.ac.uk/inclusion pages.