I was staff-elected to Council, Cardiff University’s governing body in 2014. This allowed me to break out of the geographical isolation of the School of Medicine, where I’ve worked in a number of roles, to become more involved with the wider university, and meet a diverse range of people – all of which has been fantastic.
I have always been very passionate about equality, particularly women’s equality and LGBT rights. A key moment that motivated me to champion equality at Cardiff University was when I became a trustee for our pension fund. I realised that I was not only the youngest person in the room, but also the only woman and the only bisexual person. The lack of diversity on this board showed me how much work still needs to be done to ensure equal representation and motivated me to become a role model for others. I am currently the vice-chair of our LGBT+ staff network, I sit on the School of Medicine’s Equality, Diversity, and Human Rights Committee, and I am also involved in Athena SWAN.
Raising awareness about the diversity of our staff and students is very important. I contribute to this through organising events (socials, lectures and film-screenings), to mark occasions such as Black History Month, World AIDS Day, and LGBT History Month.
My greatest ‘equality’ success so far has been to initiate changes to the Cardiff University Pension Fund when equal marriage came into law, making Cardiff University one of the few universities where pension benefits are equalised for same-sex partners.
If you are interested in advancing equality and diversity at your institution, don’t be afraid to ask the difficult questions. Scrutiny is the whole point of the governing body, so put yourself forward and challenge areas which you believe are in need of improvement.
Ruth Williams, Staff governor, Cardiff University member of Council, Trustee of Cardiff University Pension Scheme, Vice-Chair Staff LGBT+ Network.