Aurora is a key element of our Athena SWAN action plan and equality and diversity strategy. Aurora forms an integral feature of our staff development strategy within the pathway Enhancing Talent, which aims to develop emerging leaders. We see it as an important part of identifying talented women within the university and through Aurora, assisting them to reach their full potential.
Professor Lorraine De Souza, pro-vice chancellor (equality, diversity and staff development), is the Aurora champion for Brunel University
Professor Lorraine De Souza leads the development of the university’s Equality and Diversity Strategy and implementation plans championing Brunel’s commitment to promoting the principles of equality and diversity in all areas of University activity.
How do you select your participants?
Potential candidates need to fill in the Aurora application form which includes a supporting statement from their line manager. All applications go to a selection committee chaired by the Aurora champion. Once the candidates are selected they are carefully matched with a mentor and attend a mentee awareness session. Unsuccessful candidates receive feedback and are re-directed to a number of internal career development programmes that we run.
How did you match your participants with mentors?
All mentors fill in a form that outlines why they want to be a mentor and the top three areas of strength for them. We then use this information alongside the Aurora application forms to find a good match for the participants. This is done jointly with the equality and diversity and staff development offices. The participants are given an action plan to fill in with their mentor over the course of the year.
What is the impact of Aurora for your institution?
Aurora has had a huge impact for Brunel. It has highlighted our commitment to gender equality and ensuring women have the opportunity to apply for more senior positons in the organisation and that we want them to stay, grow and develop with us. Aurora has helped our participants to maximise their talents and develop leadership skills and acumen. Several have succeeded in advancing their careers, either through promotion or by attaining new leadership roles.
What is the impact of Aurora for your participants?
The participants have the opportunity to interact and network with other women from across the country. They also have the opportunity to have lunches with our vice-chancellor and share their experiences with her of working for Brunel. They have fruitful relationships with their mentors, who stretch their goal setting and share their own experiences of how they have become successful in their careers.
How has Aurora evolved at Brunel?
We started off with a small number of participants, but this has grown year-on-year and we now have more applicants than places. The feedback from the scheme has encouraged many more women to put their names forward. The closer involvement of line managers in supporting participants in their future plans has increased the impact of Aurora across our departments.
The take away…
"Make the most of the opportunities that this scheme presents and follow up on your goals."