Inside Track | Improving equity, diversity and inclusion for all

Professors Louise Bryant and Iyiola Solanke, Deans: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), outline why we need your help filling gaps in staff equality data to bring about lasting change at Leeds.

Professors Iyiola Solanke and Louise Bryant, Deans: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

New Deans for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. April 2021

In the forthcoming EDI strategy, the University has committed to take action to improve equity, diversity and inclusion for all colleagues at all levels. We’re also committed to being transparent about pay gaps in relation to disability, race and gender, and working to eliminate them.

Our staff equality data has a crucial role to play in the delivery of this strategy, and while most colleagues have shared these details, we still have important gaps around race, disability, religion and belief, sexual orientation and caring responsibilities. These gaps make it harder for us to identify inequalities accurately, design interventions to remove them and measure the impact of these actions.

Protected characteristics

While high-quality equality data is really important in helping us achieve our EDI goals, we understand there are a number of important things to consider when asking colleagues to share sensitive personal data about their protected characteristics. Understandably, not everyone feels confident sharing this information, possibly due to experiences of discrimination. In such cases, using the ‘prefer not to say’ option enables colleagues to record only what they feel comfortable with. 

There might be a lack of clarity about why the University collects this data, as well as concerns about what we use it for. There could be issues with inequity in access to the SAP self-service, while some colleagues may also feel that recording protected characteristics isn’t relevant to them, while others are unaware of how to do this. 

Thinking differently

During the development of the EDI strategy, and while working together on the University’s Athena Swan application in 2020, it became clear to us that we needed to think differently about our approach to collecting equality data. We’re fortunate we’ve been able to access the expertise of our Continuous Improvement Team, particularly Katie Moore and Paula Dunn, to help us do this.

The team is working with EDI and HR colleagues to make sure we first fully understood the root causes of any problems with the current process, to help us explore and understand barriers that may prevent colleagues from providing accurate information. In doing so, we also acknowledge that equality data cannot be taken purely to benefit the organisation. We want to know how this data may benefit colleagues, and what will inspire confidence in how we use and store their information. 

Get involved

We warmly invite you to help the project team identify future improvements to collecting protected characteristic data. Online workshops are taking place on Friday 17 June and Tuesday 5 July. Please contact the Continuous Improvement Team if you’d like to join one of these. You can also contribute comments via our Padlet – please get involved and share your thoughts!

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