This is the first blog in a new ‘day in the life’ series from KCL’s Diversity Digest blog. In this new feature we will go behind the scenes, getting to know our Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Team and find out more about their work. 

Our third ‘day in the life’ feature comes from Helena Mattingley (she/her), Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at KCL. 


Helena Mattingley, Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion.

I’m Helena Mattingley (she/her) and I’ve worked at King’s for seven or so years. I started out in Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine, and moved to Arts & Sciences, before moving in, and more recently out, of Human Resources. The work I do is a blend of strategic, operational and opportunistic, and requires attention to process as well as people.  

Each day is different, and I like the variety of skills I need to use. It’s that variety, as well as the purpose of my role and the people I work with which I find motivating.  

The EDI function has two main teams: the Consultancy team and the Projects and Partnership team. Each have skilled practitioners who will also be writing their ‘day in the life of…’ and you can read about their days here. I manage the Consultancy team. Together, with the EDI Projects and Partnerships Manager, we deliver the university wide programme activity, such as Gender Equality, Disability Inclusion, LGBTQ+ Inclusion and Race Equality. My team is also responsible for leading the Equality Analysis framework, and working as internal consultants on a range of EDI challenges. You can learn more about our work in our EDI Annual Report 

In addition to managing the Consultancy team, I am responsible for my own specific portfolio. I lead on gender equality, EDI data strategy and reporting, legal compliance, and a number of other pieces which need my input.  

I head into campus a day or two each week, and use the time to meet face to face. When I’m working remotely, I have a mix of online meetings and ‘desk time’. 

This morning, I’ve blocked out time to prepare for the HR Recruitment Review. I’m involved in the Operating Model workstream, and I need to be able to contribute constructively and flag EDI specific needs. It’s important for EDI to be embedded and well considered in university decisions, so being an active participant through working groups, or through connecting through strategic Equality Analyses and reviewing policies is important.  

After my preparation, I check in on some finance pieces. I need to make sure that I’m happy with the information EDI are contributing into the business planning round. The commitments King’s has made through Athena Swan, Race Equality and EDI action plans needs to be resourced, planned and aligned with Vision 2029 Refresh.  

It’s unusual for me to have a whole morning or afternoon without a call. So much of the work EDI do is collaborative, and it’s through connecting with our colleagues in a purposeful way which helps continually improve what we do. I like to have tea with me on a call, making a cup helps me switch task as I’m away from my laptop.  I’ve recently been working with AdvanceHE to inform their EDI data guidance, helping them see the implementation challenges from a university’s perspective.  

The EDI Function uses MS Teams as our main workspaces, we use MS Teams to share information, resolve issues, and collaborate online. I keep an active eye on notifications and new posts, so I can maintain oversight, seek/give input, and communicate information easily. MS Teams enables us to crowd source information from the EDI Function which helps with our transparency, effective working and helps us to smoothly cover each other if anyone is unwell. Using MS Teams helps us to be a team, and weather the unpredictability of our work. 

The Consultancy Team huddle twice a week. This is an informal short meeting where we do work which isn’t easily done over MS Teams posts. This could be debriefing, brainstorming, or supportively challenging each others plans, it’s a useful half an hour to come together and work through any issues.  

I take a break over lunch. I make bread once or twice a week, so cheese on toast is a fairly common lunch option. I prefer to use this time for my errands as it breaks up my day, although I appreciate I have the flexibility to plan my time to work to suit me. My partner is a teacher, so to get the most out of our evenings, I choose to work earlier in the day. 

After lunch, I’ll read the updates on MS Teams which require deeper thought or input, e.g. reviewing communications for More than Mentoring and the Disability Reporting Government Consultation. I’ll also prompt the EDI Function to input into our paper for Academic Board, and make sure it’s moving ready for the deadline.  

I am fortunate to have collaborated with many colleagues at King’s on a British Council funded gender equality partnership with five Indian institutions, called GATI. I provide steer to Tushti Kapoor, who leads on the coordination to make sure we deliver out project plan – so hearing that the Action Learning Sets are in calendars and that a missing meeting link has been solved helps me feel confident we are keeping to our timelines. The peer mentors from King’s who directly work with our partners are all fantastic, and the intention is for a mutually beneficial knowledge exchange.  

One of our shared practices as an EDI function is sharing ‘read outs’ from meetings, so as I join my afternoon meeting, I’m already thinking of what information I need to share, who may have useful input, and what we can offer as a team. I add my notes direct to a shared platform, and write a quick note to the team with a summary.  

I try and hold an hour each day to work on a specific piece of work, putting time into Athena Swan work, data or whatever needs my time. My days don’t always go as planned, but having a bit of time which can flex to demand helps enormously. I plan my time on outlook, and so as pieces come in, I rearrange to make the most of each week.  

At the end of the day, I look ahead to see what’s in store for the next day, and close my laptop. As it’s been getting lighter, I’ve taken myself out for a walk after work. Currently, there’s the late stage daffodils and blossom out and it’s a joy to see.  

Back at home, I really enjoy cooking; the kitchen is usually my favourite room in any house. With the radio for background, my partner and I will prep onions, garlic and chilli and talk about our days. I’m pescatarian, so Meera Sodha’s Fresh India or Sally Butcher’s Snackistan are frequently on the kitchen counter for reference.    

We’ll watch something together, do a bit of life admin, or read our respective books – typically something quieter on a school night. We see a group of friends on Fridays, which helps indicate the change into the weekend.  

You can learn more about Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at King’s College London and get in touch with Jessica & the team by visiting our webpages.