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The impact of a Guardian University Award

Published: 15/01/2015

Nona McDuff, head of equality, diversity and inclusion at Kingston University blogs about winning the Guardian University Diversity Initiative Award last year and shares her top tips for applying.

Guardian University Awards 2014   Achieving a Guardian University Award sends a clear message that diversity, equality and inclusion are part of Kingston University’s core mission. In 2014 our project, Mainstreaming equality, diversity and inclusion into academic career progression, received the inaugural ECU sponsored Diversity Initiative award.

For those that are considering applying for the awards this year– go for it. Remember these awards recognise the work you are already doing. If you have planned your work, developed objectives and have evidence to support what you’re doing, you’re half way there.

Kingston was praised for its innovation in embedding equality, diversity and inclusion into its new academic progression and promotion process. It has been fantastic to see the impact this project has had within the institution and the effect receiving the award has had in raising the profile of the work we are undertaking around equality and diversity. The award has allowed Kingston to stand out as an exceptional institution. As an award-winning university, we have been featured in a sector magazine, run workshops and have been invited to showcase our innovation and success at sector events.

For our vice-chancellor, Professor Julius Weinberg, the award recognises his strong championing of equality and diversity for staff and students. It has also recognised the incredibly important support of Lesley-Jane Eales-Reynolds who as deputy vice-chancellor (education), led the introduction of the new process.

It has increased the credibility of equality and diversity at Kingston, demonstrating the benefits it has for everyone and its value beyond compliance. For my team at Kingston, the award has been a validation of our work and has raised our profile significantly across the institution. The award has made people more curious about what we do and has led to greater awareness of the breadth and value of our work across the institution, particularly for cultural change projects.

I think staff are proud to say they work at an institution that achieves awards but more importantly, I hope the recognition of the project has given staff greater confidence about equality in times of organisational change. It is important for staff to feel that the institution is considering and mitigating risk, particularly for minority ethnic staff and women, who research has shown can feel particularly vulnerable in restructures.

My tips for applying:

  • Think about what distinguishes your initiative from others in the sector
  • Be clear about your measures of success whether these are quantitative or qualitative
  • Get an external perspective – this helps you avoid jargon – and explain your project clearly and succinctly
  • Think about how you can disseminate your initiative within the sector

 About the awards

The Guardian University Awards give UK universities the opportunity to highlight their achievements to a vast and growing global community. This year, ECU is once again sponsoring the award for advancing staff equality, which recognises an outstanding initiative that has a significant and measurable impact on improving staff equality and/or diversity. This could range from a high-level institutional strategy to specific campaigns, but must have a lasting benefit for the careers and working lives of staff.

All shortlisted entries will be invited to attend the awards ceremony in central London in March 2015, where the winners will be announced. In addition there will be a dedicated site which will host a university awards “ideas bank”, containing all the written submissions that made the shortlist. The closing date for applications is 26 January 2014.