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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.

At the EDI Conference in 2022, we asked 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 offered 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.

Check out #EDIConf22 on Twitter to see the conversations that were had in March 2022.

The next EDI conference dates are TBC.

Keep an eye on this page and our social media to find out next year's dates.

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Outcomes

The conference:

  • created space to engage with previously less-explored, hidden or ‘taboo’ equality issues and examined/encouraged promising practice to address them;
  • increased 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;
  • improved institutional capacity to make progress on EDI in an increasingly complex environment;
  • engaged 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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Themes

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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Keynote speakers 2022

Professor Becky Huxley-Binns

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education)
,
University of Hull
Professor Becky Huxley-Binns
Professor Becky Huxley-Binns was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) at University of Hull in January 2019. As Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education), she is responsible for the delivery of the Education Strategy 2020-2025.

Mette Westander

Founding Director and CEO, Disabled Students UK
Mette Westander, CEO of DSUK
Mette Westander is the Founding Director and CEO of Disabled Students UK, recognised by Shaw Trust as one of the most influential disabled-led organisations in the UK. DSUK uses disabled-led expertise to improve accessibility in Higher Education. They empower disabled students, spread disabled student insights, and work collaboratively to inform policy. Their report on the impact of the pandemic on disabled students was mentioned in parliament and their evidence-based approach has led them to be consulted by a variety of institutions and decision makers. Mette has a BA in Psychology and Philosophy from Oxford and is currently undertaking a MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience at Birkbeck. They are autistic and live with a chronic illness.

Panel conversation

Navigating Freedom of Speech and Protection from Harm

Dr Arun Verma

Head of the Race Equality Charter
,
Advance HE
Arun Verma-545x363px
Dr Arun Verma has recently been appointed the Head of the Race Equality Charter at Advance HE. He completed his PhD exploring students’ workplace experiences, retention and success through the lens of intersectionality. After academia, he went onto work in government where he embedded intersectionality and anti-racist practice in the re-design of an entire domestic abuse and mental health system, which led to more inclusive commissioning programmes.

Professor Geoff Layer

Geoff-Layer-545x363px
Geoff Layer recently retired as Vice Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, having worked for over 40 years in post compulsory education. He is now working on strategic development for Coventry University.

Rachel Archbold

Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
,
Durham University
Rachel Archbold
Rachel is an experienced EDI practitioner and leader who has been Head of EDI at Durham University for the last 4 years. At Durham Rachel works alongside the Deputy Vice Chancellor and Provost and Deputy Provost to design, review and implement the University's EDI Policy and Strategy and is responsible for operational delivery of EDI initiatives at an institutional level.

David Ruebain, PVC for Culture, Diversity and Inclusion, University of Sussex and Leah Martindale, Equity Liberation and Access Officer, University of Bristol Students' Union also joined the panel.

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 explored 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.  

Champions and Change Agents: working with activist energy

Dr Dave S.P. Thomas (SFHEA)

Senior Adviser EDI
,
Advance HE
Dave Thomas
Dr. Dave S.P. Thomas is a Senior Advisor at Advance HE and a specialist in Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Inclusive Leadership. He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA), with over two decades of experience in management, teaching and research in the educational sector as well as private and public sector organizations globally.

Professor Sarah Cunningham-Burley

Dean of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences: Edinburgh Medical School, University of Edinburgh
Professor Sarah Cunningham-Burley
Sarah Cunningham-Burley is Professor of Medical and Family Sociology, Dean of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences: Edinburgh Medical School, University of Edinburgh and Co-Director of the Wellcome supported Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society. She is the University-wide lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. This executive role covers staff and students and is oriented towards visibly mainstreaming EDI across all areas of university life. This is only possible through the outstanding efforts of multiple communities of staff and students committed to equity and social justice and to understanding and challenging discrimination and inequality.

Annette Hay

Senior Research Delivery Support Partner
,
Coventry University
Annette Hay
Annette is currently a member of the Senior Management Team in the Research Office at Coventry University. After completing her Social Studies Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Warwick, she went on to complete her Masters in ‘Leadership and Management’ at Coventry University.

Maxine Greaves MBE

Inclusion and Community Development Manager at Principles of Success
Maxine Greaves MBE
Maxine has comprehensive knowledge and research experience of qualifications and inclusive practice frameworks. Equality and Diversity lead, Race Inclusion for LEAD; one of four Directors of True Talk Africa CIC and BAMEed Yorkshire and Humberside lead.

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 explored 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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