Learning to respect and celebrate our differences
We’re currently waiting to hear if the University has been awarded Race Equality Charter Mark (RECM) status. The accreditation gives a framework to identify how we’re doing, and it provides confidence to people to show our commitment to continuing to improve diversity and inclusion.
For me, it runs far deeper than whether we secure this benchmark or not, however credible it undoubtedly is. Warwick has always sought to attract and support a diverse community. The University was built in 1965 to serve the local community; our multi-faith Chaplaincy has always been at our core; we received our first institutional Athena Swan award in 2010; we’ve held the HR Excellence in Research accreditation for the last four years; we have committed to paying the living wage; and last year we moved up 117 places in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index. Each and every one of these indicators give a clear statement about the importance of inclusivity within our community. We are a global institution. It should go without saying that we respect and celebrate our differences, and that we are fundamentally committed to diversity. Recognition like RECM, and the value system that underpins this sort of indicator, is not easily won or maintained however, on a personal or organisational level.
It matters to me that we are open about what we still need to learn. Societal changes and attacks on our way of life, like the atrocities we’ve seen closer to home and further afield in Europe this year, drive fear and doubt. It can feel easier, sometimes, to turn the other cheek to unacceptable behaviours, to retain processes and systems that are unintentionally biased, to avoid debate or challenge on differences, or to default to language or habits that disguise what is, actually, racism or other very real prejudices – whether conscious or not.
I’m very hopeful we will receive RECM accreditation. Like many members of the University, I will feel proud, and reassured. We all want to think of Warwick as a welcoming, challenging, global, successful, institution. Regardless of whether we are successful in securing the RECM benchmark now, the challenge for all members of our community to continue to do more is as real as ever. We are in this learning space together.