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Equality, diversity and inclusion and governance

Supporting boards and governors to tackle inequalities and promote equity.

Most institutions have issues to address such as widening participation of students from different groups; ensuring fair degree outcomes; addressing pay gaps; supporting pipelines of diverse teaching and research talent; or connecting with and serving their wider communities. Boards need to be equipped with the range of perspectives and skills to navigate and challenge on these issues.

We are leading work in UK HE on enhancing EDI perspectives within institutional governance, in terms of both board diversity and board assurance, including partnering with other sector groups such as the global 30% Club for gender diversity and the global search firm Perrett Laver. We draw on insight from developing and running the internationally recognised Charters accreditation schemes in race equality and gender equality for universities.

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Supporting a step-change in Board diversity

The first ever report into the diversity of HE governors in the UK published by Advance HE reveals insights from our analysis of HESA data looking at the diversity characteristics of governors in UK higher education. Findings from the Advance HE analysis of this data revealed that:

  • Just 41.9% of governing board members were women, compared to 54.6% of staff members overall
  • Around nine in ten governors were white (89.2%), 5.3% were Asian and 2.6% were Black
  • 5.4% HE governors were disabled, and a long-standing illness or health condition was the most commonly reported impairment among disabled governing board members.

With that in mind we support providers with a range of resources and advice to improve their diversity. 

Download the report
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Supporting effective processes and strategies for board diversity and inclusion

As the data shows, diversity on boards in the UK sector is lacking. We provide bespoke reviews and support towards effective board recruitment and succession plans, working with secretaries and nominations committees.

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Board Diversity Practice Project

This project, funded by Advance HE and supported by Perrett Laver, aims to collate, understand and share members’ practice to deliver on board diversity via the sharing of practice and lessons learned from members’ attempts to diversify their boards. This will provide an evidence base for members, potential solutions through an easily-accessible bank of case-studies, and identification of priorities for areas still to address.

The outputs of this project will be published in Autumn 2021.

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Key resources

Board diversity framework

Following the publication of the Leadership Foundation report ‘Increasing the diversity of senior leaders in higher education: the role of executive search firms’  authored by Professor Simonetta Manfredi in March 2017, we have published a diversity principles framework to support greater diversity in board appointments. 

Download the framework

Board Recruitment Framework

In line with the diversity principles framework, Advance HE has launched a board recruitment framework as part of the project. This includes guidelines for preparing job descriptions, person specifications and advert texts for board roles which are inclusive. 

Download the framework

Board Recruitment and Diversity in Higher Education

Diverse and inclusive boards support institutional success, with the confidence to assure equality, diversity and inclusion matters. Our guidance webpage collates resources and publications to support your board and governors.

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The role of Governance in Equality in Higher Education

Governance should influence -  and drive progress in – equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) for students and staff, and wider society. Our guidance webpage collates resources and publications to support your board and governors.

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Keep up to date with Advance HE

Monthly Governance Bulletin

Every month we send out a newsletter that collates the latest news from the month and our most recent resources, including blogs and Advance HE reports. The newsletter also highlights upcoming dates for key events and programmes within the Advance HE portfolio.

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Governance News Alerts

Our News Alerts provide regular updates from across the sector on the latest policy changes or introductions, updated guidance and news. We provide an at-a-glance view of the piece along with the implications for boards and governors.

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Resources and guidance

Advance HE is committed to producing and sharing news, guidance, research, publications, resources and toolkits to support good governance. Take a look at our Governance guidance pages where these are collated.

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