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Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Conference 2022

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Conference 2022: Inclusive Institutions in Action

This two-day conference will focus on best practice in addressing issues of equality, diversity and inclusion in HE.

In the last two years, we have seen a resurgence of voices protesting inequality (racial injustice and the Black Lives Matter Movement, the impact of Covid on existing inequalities, sexual harassment and violence) and a growing interest across the HE and FE sectors in responding to and working with this energy to create meaningful and sustainable change.

Increasingly, we are asking what it looks like when:

  • institutions respond positively to the diversity of voices, energy and scholarship advocating for change?
  • the voices from the margins are welcomed centre stage, and inclusion is at the heart of our approach to institutional culture?
  • our leadership models and practices are truly inclusive?
  • we seek out, develop, value and celebrate change agents from outside traditional hierarchies, talent pools and scholarship?
  • the complexity of identity and intersectionality informs thinking and practice and shapes new approaches to inclusion and building belonging?

This conference offers an opportunity to think deeply and creatively about what it means to be an inclusive institution, to explore models of inclusion that challenge traditional concepts of leadership and agency, and to share innovative practice around collaboration, co-ownership, allyship and solidarity.

Join the conversation #EDIConf22

Date: 16-17 March 2022
Location: Radisson Blu, Manchester Airport
Who: EDI practitioners, Senior Managers with responsibility for EDI policy, Heads of Departments, Programme Leaders, HE Lecturers, Student Support staff and researchers with a focus on EDI

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The conference will:

  • create space to engage with previously less-explored, hidden or ‘taboo’ equality issues and examine/encourage promising practice to address them;
  • increase knowledge and confidence in the college and HE sectors to undertake positive action initiatives to tackle inequality and underrepresentation across student bodies, workforce and governance;
  • improve institutional capacity to make progress on EDI in an increasingly complex environment;
  • engage with leaders and influencers to foster dialogue on embedding a strategic approach to equality in colleges and higher education institutions

Advance HE has acted as a nexus for thought leadership and research into EDI policy and practice in HE and FE. The underpinning evidence base has been built up by and for the sector and is used to inform the work of policymakers and practitioners. With an ever-growing global community of member institutions and a portfolio of thematic communities with global membership, this conference seeks to promote the learning between individuals with a passion for transforming EDI activity in the sector to achieve real change.

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The overarching theme across both days of the conference will be Inclusive Institutions in Action and it will address the following five sub themes: 

Embracing the voices of minoritised and marginalised people in our approach to institutional change

Could include working with student/staff networks; connecting with activist movements, scholarship and energy; innovative practice in curriculum design; models for whole-institution conversations and culture change; creating safe spaces and building trust.

Reshaping EDI leadership

For example, exploring different forms of leadership of EDI beyond the traditional ‘hierarchy’; positive action and diversifying leadership; leadership and flexible working; an active approach to pipelines (including from Student to Board); building competence and confidence in inclusive leadership practice; leadership models to support inclusion (e.g. feminised leadership, anti-racist leadership).

The future is intersectional

For example, building belonging across and beyond protected characteristics; navigating identity and privilege; authentic leadership; practical approaches to intersectionality.

Humble learning

How we engender and support an inclusive culture of learning; examples might include meaningful allyship (beyond performative and majority-centred); sponsorship, reverse mentoring and other mutually beneficial partnerships; leading through crisis (learning lessons from what we get wrong).

The change agent’s tool kit

An opportunity to focus on the practical skills that we need if we are to be effective in achieving change, whether at an individual or an institutional level. Could include how to ‘make the case’ or influence leaders; anticipating and working with resistance; wellbeing and resilience for EDI activists; building networks and alliances; evidence, research and analysis skills.
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Panel sessions

1. Navigating Freedom of Speech and Protection from Harm

Free speech, rigorous debate and academic freedom are at the heart of higher education, alongside diversity and inclusion between different groups. Currently attention is being given to the tensions between these responsibilities as the obligations around protecting and upholding freedom of speech and fostering good relations between different groups can sometimes seem to compete. However, both are core to the values and success of our institutions. 

This panel discussion will explore these tensions and identify ways in which they can be overcome, ensuring freedom of speech is protected and that we continue to develop university environments that encourage debate and the free exchange of ideas and protecting academic freedom, whilst preventing harassment and fostering mutual respect and inclusion.  

2. Champions and Change Agents: working with activist energy

Many of the positive changes that are now central to approaches to EDI have been forged by activist groups. The energy and focus of Black Lives Matter, #Metoo, disability and LGBTQ+ movements, as well as staff and student networks and others giving their time and voices to call out injustice, have galvanised the sector to take action and have held institutions accountable for the pace of progress. 

This panel discussion explores what it takes to grow positive relationships between institutions and activist groups, and acknowledges the energy and influence of protest and activism as a force for change. We will hear about the challenges of building trust under public scrutiny and developing appropriate responses to calls for action, and we will consider how valuing student and staff activists can have a positive impact on institutional culture overall.  

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Conference programme

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EDI Conference programme - Day 1 (16 March 2022)

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EDI Conference programme - Day 2 (17 March 2022)

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EDI Conference accessible programme

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Conference Abstracts

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EDI Conference - Day 1 abstracts (16 March 2022)

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EDI Conference - Day 2 abstracts (17 March 2022)

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Statement of respect and wellbeing

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Statement of respect and wellbeing


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