Hear from our EDI co-directors, Amy Reeve and Damian Parry, on our EDI strategy for building a more diverse & inclusive medical faculty.
March 2020 will long sit in the U.K.’s consciousness as it was the point at which the country entered its first ever lockdown. For us it has the added significance that it coincided with us taking on the roles of FMS co-directors for EDI. It was quite a time to take up the role and we only managed to meet in person once before the Country went online. We had to adapt to not only change in the way we worked, but also to new roles and responsibilities. One of our mutual primary aims was to develop a Faculty strategy for how to build a more diverse and inclusive faculty, for all students and colleagues, across all roles and career stages. As the year progressed the complexity of the role became more and more evident, the intricacies of understanding and communicating in a way that was fitting to the role and yet personable and approachable became one of our ambitions.
This is why it’s taken us a year to reach the point when we feel able (following a year of education and reflection) to put the strategy together. In the our strategy we want to get across the message of respect and understanding, and so we based it on three words that came out of last year’s FEB away-day which describe the type of Faculty we strive to be –
We are currently developing an action plan based on this document. In this we will determine SMART actions by which we can determine the extent of progress towards a more equal, diverse and inclusive Faculty. Culture change won’t result from policy change (although policy has to be a driving force), but rather it needs to come from deeper understanding of an individual’s needs and a greater acceptance of the benefit of difference.
Take a look at the official EDI strategy below.
Faculty of Medical Sciences
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Vision and Strategy
‘In pursuit of excellence, we value equality and diversity and endeavour to embed these principles in all that we do.’ Professor David Burn, Pro-Vice Chancellor, FMS
The vision of the Faculty of Medical Sciences (FMS) is to ‘use our strengths in research and teaching to improve the health of the population’. We are only able to achieve this if our teaching and research is conducted in an environment built on a foundation of equity and inclusion, and undertaken by a diverse community.
As Directors of EDI, our mission for EDI in the faculty is to encourage a Kind and creative environment with a sense of belonging for all who work and study within our walls, ensuring there is no space for discrimination or negative behaviours. By engaging in discussions with gentleness, openness and understanding, and by valuing and listening to the voices of all within our Faculty, we will be Respectful. We will be Bold, aiming high in our teaching and research endeavours, but also in our approaches to supporting our colleagues and students. By constantly evaluating and reviewing the strategy below we will ensure it evolves to strengthen this mission.
Our philosophy, built around the University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) priorities, will ensure continuous improvement in this area. We are one university and cannot work in isolation. To enact change we learn and share best practice with colleagues in other faculties and beyond, to ensure that we are well placed to be able to respond to current and future challenges. Therefore, within FMS, as part of Newcastle University we will uphold the principles set out in the Institution EDI strategy and have used them as a foundation for our FMS EDI strategy;
- Co-create a culture which is inclusive and supportive.
- Act to remove any barriers which hinder the aspirations of any Faculty member.
- Embed the principles of EDI in all teaching and research activities.
- Ensure the accessibility of our Faculty buildings and ensure inclusivity of our education and research for all our colleagues and students.
- Positively engage with communities and organisations both nationally and internationally to benchmark, learn and continually improve our EDI culture.
OUR STRATEGIC AIMS WITHIN FMS
Within FMS our strategic aims, against which we will measure progress and evaluate every 12 months, are to;
- Diversify our learning environment including the curricula and wider Faculty
- Build a diverse Faculty and enhance equality for all its members
- Help shape an accessible and visible Faculty, supporting accessibility of members to training, support and opportunity, as well as ensuring the provision of accessible spaces and facilities.
- Support the ONE University project, to share best practise. We will listen to, learn from and support EDI teams in our overseas Campuses.
- Increase awareness of the importance of embedding good EDI practice through training and development for Faculty members.
Over the next three years, we will work to fulfil the following objectives to support the delivery of our strategic aims.
- To support Diversification of our learning environment we will;
- Support ongoing projects and uphold the principles of the Race Equality Charter, and the BMA Racial Harassment Charter.
- Actively look to diversify our learning environment and increase the inclusivity of teaching materials by hearing from learned experience across the protected characteristics and including learned experiences in our teaching materials. To build diversity and equality we will;
- Address the terminology we use as a Faculty to describe all facets of protected characteristics, to support inclusion and sensitivity and encourage open dialogue and create a sense of belonging for all students and colleagues.
- Actively engage with our EDI Networks, listening to and consulting with them to action change within FMS.
- Encourage the formation of UG and PG student EDI committees within all schools and Institutes and ensure the inclusion of student UG and PG EDI representatives from these committees on all EDI committees across the faculty, providing a clear communication path to the Faculty Executive Board.
- Work to fulfil the principles of Charter Marks including Race Equality, Advance HE, Stonewall and Athena Swan, and others that we will engage with over time, aspiring to go above and beyond these.
- To promote accessibility and equality we will;
- Act to proactively reduce the Awarding Gap in our student populations to ensure all individuals have the opportunity to achieve their potential.
- Increase the diversity of all interview and promotions panels, and review and support changes to ensure equality in pay and promotions across the Faculty.
- Review our recruitment policies to ensure equality and diversity in recruitment, of both students (both UG and PG) and colleagues at all grades (both academic and Professional Services/Technical).
- Support the Estates team to provide and make visible Prayer rooms, Reflection spaces, lactation rooms and accessibility to ensure that all members of the community have space to engage and feel that they belong and their needs area met.
- Challenge current policies to support colleagues and students with seen and unseen disabilities.
- Engage with our community to break down divides, for example we will engage with local schools to support the widening of participation.
- To support ONE University we will;
- Support and share our EDI policies with NUMed EDI teams, remaining aware of cultural sensitivities.
- Support their Family policy and the formulation of their EDI strategy.
- To embed good EDI practise we will;
- Remain responsive to ongoing challenges and demands.
- Ensure that we expand the range of EDI training courses offered to all Faculty members, through increasing visibility and communication of training course this will include (but is not limited to) training on unconscious bias, macroaggression, active bystanderism and White privilege
- Link with the EDI Training Officer highlighting areas in which there is an unmet need for training.
- Ensure improvements in data collection across the faculty for both colleagues and students. This will provide metrics against which impact and improvements in all areas can be measured.
OUR EDI DIRECTORS
Dr. Amy Reeve, Senior Research Fellow, Translational and Clinical Research Institute.
Wouldn’t it be amazing, if there was no need for Directors of EDI. It would reflect the fact that we had fulfilled all aspects of our philosophy and had created a Faculty which was truly inclusive and in which all members felt that they belonged.
However, until we achieve this and for the remainder of my time as Co-Director I will support all aspects of our strategic aims, but with a particular focus on improving Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for our Researchers. I came to Newcastle as a 22-year-old PG student, to commence my PhD studies and now I manage my own research group. I have applied the principles of EDI in all aspects of my research career, striving to support all members of my team irrespective of their role, ensuring that all their needs are met and constantly taking time for self-reflection to examine how I can do better.
My specific priorities over the next 12 months are;
- To work in partnership with my co-director, Damian, together with the wider EDI team across the University, to ensure continued support and development of this strategy
- To design and implement post-graduate studentships to support Black Home students through their PG studies, creating studentships which don’t just provide financial support, but also tailored mentorship and career development support.
- To work closely with our Dean for Research Culture and Strategy (Prof. Candy Rowe) to ensure a positive research culture across all our research laboratories and an understanding of why such a culture is beneficial.
- To further enhance communication within the EDI team and between the EDI team and the Faculty, to ensure EDI requests and communications are responded to and communicated in a time sensitive and delicate manner.
- To support PG mentorship schemes to ensure that Mentors and Mentees have shared experiences and understanding.
- To learn from the events of 2020 to ensure equality in the support of all Faculty members, to support flexible working policies, to help create an Anti-racist environment and to understand how to support the needs of all our Faculty.
Dr. Damian Parry, Lecturer, Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Sciences
Prior to taking on the role of co-director in the Faculty, I led EDI in the school of biomedical, nutritional and sport sciences. During this time, it became apparent to me that education is far from a level playing field, both in terms of access and progress. This inequality starts prior to entry as undergraduates and persists through education and employment. It seems to me one of the first steps needs to be more open discussion and transparency so that this inequality can be exposed and thereby addressed.
It’s therefore my aim, together with Amy, to have more open discussions; but these discussions need to be held under the keywords highlighted in our Mission with respect kindness and boldness. Specific aims include:
- Fully disclose and address the Awarding gap.
- Assess and address recruitment both to the student body and to the workforce to determine why there is imbalance in the demographics.
- Building equality into working practices between academic and professional staff, whilst also engaging postgraduate researchers in more balanced and supported working practices
- Supporting staff in gaining training so they can better understand and support colleagues and students coming from different backgrounds in dealing with complex situations
- Building networks and support for the less “seen” groups within the faculty, for example PGR students and technical support.
- Improving communication within the EDI team and between the EDI team and the Faculty, to ensure EDI requests and communications are responded to and communicated in a time sensitive and delicate manner
- Supporting PG mentorship schemes to ensure that Mentors and Mentees have shared experiences and understanding.
Supporting EDI is everyone’s business. We have developed this strategy to inform all members of our Faculty. To be a truly Kind Faculty, we must ensure all colleagues and students are supported, valued and rewarded, irrespective of any protected characteristic. We can only be Respectful by listening to the voices, needs and concerns of all and by supporting appropriate and positive actions. These foundations will allow us to be Bold, and constantly aim to achieve more, to support ground-breaking and inventive research projects and train the next generation of scientists and clinicians.