Addressing racism and prejudice

Statement to all members of staff and students in the School of Biology:

The horrific George Floyd incident and resulting unrest, combined with other high-profile occurrences of racial prejudice, initiatives such as black lives matter, and ethnicity related discrepancies in COVID-19 deaths, have all placed a spotlight on racism in society.

We would like staff and students in the School of Biology to know that the School’s Equality and Diversity (E&D) Committee is actively working to promote equality, diversity and inclusion within the School, and was recognized in feedback on its Athena SWAN Silver award to be a leader in its institution. Recent ethnicity-relevant actions that we have implemented include:

  • Development of a recruitment checklist (aimed at promoting recruitment of minorities, including BAME).
  • Unconscious bias training for all, and recruitment and selection training for those involved in recruitment
  • Undergraduate tutorials on ‘Unconscious Bias’, ‘Bias in race, ethnicity, age, sex in research trials’ and ‘Teamwork and the benefits of a diverse team’
  • Development of procedures for the reporting of bullying and prejudice in the workplace
  • Development of guidelines for the organization of diverse conferences and workshops

Further actions that we are planning include:

  • Compulsory online diversity training for all staff and students
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion to be highlighted in Student Induction 
  • A student BAME representative on our Equality and Diversity Committee

We are also actively lobbying for E&D initiatives at University level, with some success.  The School also has representation on the University’s newly formed Race and Ethnicity Equality Group.

Clearly much more needs to be done to eradicate the inequalities that BAME staff and students, and other minorities, experience daily, and we are far from complacent about addressing that challenge, and achieving balanced representation amongst our community.  Like many of you, we care deeply about these issues, and will continue to work to address your concerns.

If you have concrete suggestions for possible actions that we could implement that would improve equality and diversity within the School, or if you would like to join the E&D committee to help it achieve these objectives, please contact us.

Sascha Hooker (Chair, Biology Equality and Diversity Committee)

Kevin Laland (Deputy Chair, Biology Equality and Diversity Committee)

Frank Gunn-Moore (Head of School)