More than 300 delegates have been at Advance HE's two-day Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Conference 2022: Inclusive Institutions in Action, which opened in Manchester yesterday (16 March).
Delegates had the opportunity to join two keynotes, two panel sessions, 60 peer-led sessions and 11 poster presentations in our first in-person conference for two years.
In her keynote address, ‘How institutional leadership comes from individual journeys’, Professor Becky Huxley-Binns, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) the University of Hull, shared personal family stories which had helped her to reflect on her own privilege in the context of the conference themes. The themes, which are about institutions responding positively to the ‘diversity of voices, energy and scholarship advocating for change’ and ‘what does it look like when voices from the margins are welcomed centre-stage and inclusion is at the heart of our approach to institutional culture?’ had encouraged her to reflect on her responsibility as a leader to respond positivity, and as human, ‘to be better’, describing how that meant giving time to listen respectfully to a wide variety of views and experiences.
She went on to share the journey of the launch of the University of Hull’s Education Strategy – co-created with staff and students – in which a strategic aim is ‘to create a truly inclusive university' where, she said, “We celebrate diversity, embrace difference, placed students at the heart of transformational change, and actively empower students as partners.” And in tandem with this intent, is the strategic aim to move the University to a competency-based higher education “that develops the whole student based around three pillars, knowledge management, disciplinary and professional experience, and self-awareness which is about self-assessment and regulation in public and private domains.”
Speaking after her keynote on leadership and EDI, Professor Huxley-Binns said, “What I’d like to see is all university team leaders in all universities across the sector taking responsibility and accountability for EDI.
“So one model could be that each member of the university leadership team takes sponsorship for one theme or one approach. It could be life stage, gender, it could be culture and race, and they become the champion for that particular theme, or set of characteristics. Doesn't matter if they belong to that particular group. They become the champion and they take accountability and responsibility for sponsoring and championing – that's how we hear the voices on the margin.”
Dr Celia Brigg, Advance HE Associate Director – Conferences and Events, said, “We hope that the lessons, the actions and the activities learned over the two days are things you can back to your institutions to help you make the change we all want to see.”