Subscriber stories: Brunel University London
Sanchia Alasia, Equality and Diversity Manager at Brunel, tells us why they were the first to subscribe to ECU.
‘It can be challenging to get the message across, but it is really good when you can help push an agenda forward and you can see progress.’
What encouraged your institution to subscribe to ECU?
ECU communicated a couple of months prior to the changes taking place with funding and I informed our equal opportunities and HR committee that there would be a fee. I recommended that we stick with ECU because of the organisation’s expertise in supporting equality and diversity in higher education institutions. We wanted to continue having access to your research and publications, I have attended some of your events including the bi-annual conference, and also to continue with our Athena SWAN agenda.
What are the main equality and diversity challenges you have in the year ahead that ECU will be able to support you with?
As I already mentioned, Athena SWAN. We’d also like to get involved with the Race Equality Charter, and we are looking at LGBT issues, as we have joined Stonewall too.
We are also focussed on disability issues. We want to make sure it is considered in everything we do.
What are you most excited about in your equality and diversity work? Current and in the future?
This year we will be celebrating 50 years of Brunel. We have discussed how we are going to weave equality and diversity through the celebrations. I am excited about this because it will raise the profile of the equality and diversity agenda and we are going to get to hold some interesting events, such as celebrating 50 years since the Race Relations Act, showcasing inspirational men for International Men’s Day and in the first week of December we will do a ‘then and now’ looking at how things have changed in relation to disability and how inclusive Brunel has become, but also remembering what we still need to achieve.
I am also looking forward to working on the action plan of our new equality and diversity strategy which has just been launched.
Where does equality and diversity sit within your university’s strategy?
We have an overarching university strategy that includes equality and diversity principles, but we felt it was important to have a stand-alone equality and diversity strategy as well that goes into more depth around teaching, research and staff experiences. It has more objectives to it and I hope we can really start to embed equality and diversity within the university. The strategy runs for three to five years and if we can reach the goals in that time it will be an improved staff and student experience which will make them happier and make for a more effective and dynamic organisation.
What piece of ECU work has been most helpful to you?
We find the annual statistical reports useful. We have used The rationale for equality and diversity: how vice-chancellors and principles are leading change and there was a workshop I attended at your conference on this too, as well as Academic Flight: how to encourage black and minority ethnic academics to stay in UK higher education to inform our work in the last few months.
What is your personal highlight of working with equality and diversity at your institution?
It’s such an interesting and vibrant area to work in. It can be challenging at times, it can be challenging to get the message across, but it is really good when you can help push an agenda forward and you can see progress – things changing and improving because people have taken an interest and realise the importance of this work. It is very rewarding.