Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at King's College London

Author: Jake Orros (Page 1 of 2)

Stonewall – staff survey now open!

Nicole Robinson, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Consultant & Jake Orros, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Project Officer at KCL share how to get involved with this year’s Stonewall Workplace Equality Index.


At King’s we are committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment where all members of our community can achieve their potential. This includes our lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer colleagues. To support our journey to being a truly inclusive employer we have worked with the charity Stonewall since 2016.

This year we are taking part in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index and we need your help!

As part of our submission to the Workplace Equality Index we want to hear from you. We are calling all staff at King’s College London to take part in Stonewall’s employee survey. The staff survey is your chance to tell us how we’re doing as your employer. It asks about your identities and about your experience working at King’s. This is a fantastic opportunity for you to have your say and honestly share how we are doing as an organization. Together we can create a more inclusive university.

Whether you’re LGBTQ+ or not, we want to hear from you!

You can take part in the survey here.

Stonewall is a charity  that stands for lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, questioning and ace (LGBTQ+) rights everywhere. Over the last 30 years, they have helped create transformative change in the lives of LGBTQ+ people in the UK and around the world.  The charity has also been at the forefront of making workplaces inclusive for LGBTQ+ people for more than 15 years through the Stonewall Diversity Champion scheme.

King’s has proudly taken part in the Diversity Champion scheme since 2016; the programme empowers LGBTQ+ people and allies to step up as leaders, role models and activists in the workplace. As truly global institution the Champion scheme echoes King’s vision to develop and empower individuals to lead and make the world a more inclusive place.

Sarah Guerra, Director of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion:  “This independent Stonewall survey is a good opportunity for all our staff to feedback on our LGBTQ+ inclusion journey and success to date. King’s has come a long way since we became a Stonewall Diversity Champions in 2016. I myself have come out as Bi whilst working at King’s.

Since 2016, we have seen all of the Senior Management Team undertake structural inequality and Trans Matters training, updated our trans inclusion policies,  improved the provision of gender Free toilet facilities and we are currently creating an allyship toolkit to support all members of our community. I would encourage all staff at King’s to get involved and complete this years workplace survey.”

Organizations from across the UK take part in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index, each receiving a score as a measure of their actions to build an inclusive workplace. The Index is our chance to celebrate our achievements, understand where we need to make progress and benchmark ourselves nationally as an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace. This year we’ll be sharing with Stonewall our updated Trans inclusion and Dignity at King’s policies, as well as sharing our work on socially responsible procurement and Trans matters training delivered to senior leaders.

Our submission is divided into 2 parts:

  • Firstly, we are measured across 8 areas of employment policy and practice.
  • Secondly, all staff are invited to take part in the online survey run by Stonewall.

Both parts of our submission are independently reviewed by Stonewall who will announce the latest Workplace Equality Index early next year.

We want to say thank you for supporting our Stonewall journey and for participating in the survey. If you would like to know more or if you have any questions you can get in touch with the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion team via email at diversity@kcl.ac.uk

Take part in the survey here

Frequently asked questions:

  • The survey takes 5–10 minutes to complete.
  • The survey is open to all staff at King’s – not just members of the LGBTQ+ community.
  • The information you provide is anonymous and completely confidential. All of the information gathered by Stonewall is fed back to King’s in an aggregated way, without any personally identifiable information.
  • Survey closes on 5th November 2021.
  • 16th February 2021 top 100 and Gold, Silver & Bronze employer awards are announced.

Useful links & additional information:

Note: If you don’t work at King’s College London, why not reach our to your employer and find out if they are taking part in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index this year. The Survey is open for all organizations taking part until 5th November 2021.

The Council Room

Celebrating the Diversity of our Student Body and our Students’ Achievements.


We want our spaces on campus to represent King’s and our global diversity. We recognise that rooms around campus do not always reflect the diversity of our staff and students, or showcase success, civic leadership and service. As identified through our Athena Swan and Race Equality Charter Marks, the images in the Council Room were chosen for a pilot project to diversify the images and present a broader range of role models.

Image of the council room set up for a committee meeting.

The Council Room, The King’s Building, Strand Campus.

A university working group has recently updated the imagery in the Council Room. The group had an explicit aim to address the historic lack of diversity in the images, particularly gender and ethnicity. The new image panels now show a broader, more diverse range of role models, illustrate King’s dedication to service, and celebrate our students’ achievements. The changes also modernise the space and remind us of our academic purpose and who we serve.

Group photo of 5 students sitting on steps of Bush House, hanging in the Council Room, King’s Building, Strand Campus.

The artwork was installed on 19 July.

The working group included students and staff, and deliberately connected to our Athena Swan and Race Equality accreditations. This work is a pilot and we hope to use similar approaches with larger sections of our community as part of routine campus refreshes. Thank you to the hard work of the teams involved.

Council Room set up for a committee meeting.

The Council Room.

If you are interested in contributing to diversifying King’s spaces in the future, please contact diversity@kcl.ac.uk.

Learning to do better

Jennifer Hastings, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Manager here at King’s College London, explores what it means to learn to do better.


I have been thinking a lot about the EDI learning process and the reliance we have on marginalised groups to help us understand their experience. As a university community, we know the importance of an environment that facilitates learning. You only need to read the King’s strategy to see the value placed on accepting, if not embracing, our mistakes (“King’s is a space in which to learn through questioning views, exploring beliefs and values and learning from failure as well as from success”).

Critical thinking and the ability to fail may be cornerstones of academic success, but what happens when well-meaning debate or plain ignorance causes harm? Of course, there is a difference between genuine curiosity and those who spout discriminatory views under the guise of “playing devil’s advocate” however it still prompts the question of how we enable people to learn and challenge whilst maintaining a safe space for the rest of our community.

The term “safe space” can have a range of connotations that are often dependent on a person’s background, political leanings and lived experience. That said, I imagine most people agree that it’s difficult to thrive in a space that doesn’t meet this basic definition. The reason we place so much emphasis on a “safe space” within the context of EDI is because the topics addressed are not hypothetical concepts; they relate to the identity and lived experience of other people (some of whom may be sat in the same room as you).

It’s also important to acknowledge the pressure often placed on certain groups to relive their own trauma as a way of schooling others. This can be made worse by the reaction that follows, whether that’s extreme defensiveness or deliberate gaslighting. In her book “Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race”, Reni Eddo-Lodge talks about her experience of educating white people: “The journey towards understanding structural racism still requires people of colour to prioritise white feelings.”

I will always believe in a person’s potential to learn, change and do better however I acknowledge that this comes from a place of privilege. It is a lot easier to take a forgiving stance when it isn’t your identity that is being questioned or your lived experience that is being dismissed. In Emma Dabiri’s book, “What White People Can Do Next”, she refers to a quote by bell hooks (the lack of capitals is deliberate):

“For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?”

I don’t have an answer to this, but I believe it’s a conversation we mustn’t shy away from. In lieu of a solution, below are some points to consider when exploring topics relating to EDI. I would love to hear any further advice or perspectives you have in the comments.

  • Being safe and uncomfortable are not mutually exclusive (as outlined in UCL’s helpful toolkit). Mira Vogel from King’s Academy has produced an excellent resource about brave spaces, which illustrates this point and provides guidance on how these can be facilitated in an educational setting
  • If you are facilitating a discussion, consider outlining its scope at the beginning and clarifying whether there are any matters that aren’t up for debate. For example, if you were leading a discussion on the BLM Movement, it could be helpful to state at the beginning that KCL’s stance is to work towards being an actively anti-racist university and that this is not the space to debate this approach
  • When undertaking self-directed study, it’s worth exploring whether you can find answers by championing the work of marginalised groups. By paying for content, whether it’s a book or online subscription, you are acknowledging the value of the creator’s labour
  • An individual’s right to hold a belief does not supersede the rights of those with other protected characteristics. Stonewall tweeted about a recent example concerning gender critical beliefs and how the freedom to hold these beliefs has no bearing on the right of trans people to live free from harassment and discrimination
  • I’m going to end by quoting the writer, Matt Haig: “Self-forgiveness makes the world better. You don’t become a good person by believing you are a bad one. Acknowledge faults, don’t become them.” In summary, when you make a mistake (which is inevitable), apologise and use what you’ve learnt to do better next time

 

 

 

It’s time to give ourselves a break: How to overcome parental guilt during the COVID pandemic

Emma Warnock-Parkes, Clinical Psychologist and exhausted mum of 2, shares 5 strategies for overcoming parental guilt.


Emma and her children smiling and laughing

I’m sitting in a lunchtime zoom meeting of fellow parents working at my university. The topic of discussion is how the pandemic has impacted on us. I’ve never met any of these people before but looking around I know we have one thing in common: we are all knackered. Many of us sit with a child on our lap or one repeatedly appearing in the background requesting more snacks. We simultaneously shovel down some lunch and keep an eye on our emails. As I half listen (a skill many of us have acquired thanks to COVID), I’m struck by the fact that in addition to all being exhausted and desperately needing a haircut, we are plagued with a common problem: guilt.

‘I’m not spending enough time with my kids’; ‘I feel bad they are stuck with me and cannot see their friends’; ‘He should have had a better birthday’; ‘I’ve given them too much chocolate’; ‘they are on screens far too much’, ‘I’ve shouted’, ‘I’ve sworn’, ‘I’m irritable with them’, ‘the house is constantly a mess’, ‘I’m not helping them enough with their school work’; ‘they are falling behind’. The list goes on.

I listen to other mums fighting back their tears as they beat themselves up over what has undoubtedly been the most difficult year of our lives. I’m suddenly overwhelmed with sadness and deep compassion for these amazing women, and for myself. This last year parents have faced unprecedent challenges. We have managed the anxiety and uncertainty of a global pandemic, alongside performing an impossible juggling act that no generation of parents has faced before. We have done all this while adapting to remote working, without our usual social supports, while being stuck inside our homes in an unrecognisable world. Many of us have had to worry about job or financial security, had friends and family who are struggling, coped with illness and loss. So why are we all being so hard on ourselves?

Given what a common experience it is, there is surprisingly little research on parental guilt.
Some psychologists argue that women feel more guilt than men, and that maternal guilt has an evolutionary basis motivating us to provide care (Rotkirch & Janhunen, 2009). One would hope this would change as parental roles become more shared. That said, I just asked my husband what he has felt most guilty about during the pandemic: he has eaten too much ice cream and not learnt enough Italian apparently. As this is a sample of one, and I happen to know Dads who have struggled with COVID parenting guilt, I’ll say no more.

As I listened to other parents talking, it struck me that as a psychologist and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) therapist I know quite a bit about helping people overcome guilt. Yet, like many good psychologists, I’m terrible at taking my own advice. I vowed that later that day I would get out the chocolate biscuits, put on yet another episode of Paw Patrol and give my pangs of guilt a self-therapy session. Here is what I found:

5 CBT tips you may find helpful for addressing COVID parenting guilt:

1) Spot your guilty thoughts.

Guilty feelings are driven by guilty thoughts, so spotting what you are feeling guilty about is the first step to overcoming it. Guilt arises from the perception that we have done something wrong or harmful to another: “should” thoughts. “I should be spending more time home schooling my children”, “I shouldn’t have got so angry” etc. These thoughts leads to feelings of guilt, and at times anxiety or low mood. This can understandably impact on what we do. We might dwell on our guilty thoughts or withdraw from others. This can become a vicious cycle, leading to more negative thinking and guilt:cycle, negative thoughts lead to feeling guilty low, anxious. cycling to behaviors and then back to negative thoughts

If you feel parental guilt about many things since COVID began, try to spot the thoughts that
makes you feel most guilty. For me this is not spending enough time with my kids.

2) Are you as responsible as you feel?

Feeling guilty does not mean that we are guilty, it may mean that we are taking on too much responsibility. A helpful CBT technique here is drawing out a responsibility pie chart. It can help you to see that there might be other factors that have some responsibility. This is done in 3 simple steps:

Step 1: Start by writing down how responsible you feel. For me, as Netflix helpfully asks whether my children are still watching Paw Patrol, I write, ‘I feel 100% responsible for not spending enough time with my kids during the pandemic’.

Step 2: Write a list of all the other factors that can take some responsibility. Here I write down: the COVID virus; the government for poor outbreak management leading to childcare closure; people who did not follow guidelines early on; my work; my husband; myself.

Step 3: Allocate percentages of the pie to each thing on your list (make it add up to 100%). Give a percentage to all the other things first, ending with yourself. Then draw out the pie chart. This is what I ended up with:

My Responsibility Pie Chart: 

pie chart of my responsibilities: me 5 percent, my husband 5 percent, governtment 30 percent, covid-19 40 percent, people not following guidance 10 percent, my work 10 percent.

Drawing it out is a powerful reminder that despite feeling 100% responsible, we really cannot blame ourselves for a global pandemic and the impact it has had on our lives.

3) Focus on what you have done, not what you haven’t.

The pie chart helped, but I still feel some guilt. Guilt is often maintained by discounting what we have done, and instead focusing on what we have not. I spend a few moments writing down the things I have done for my children during the pandemic. I find this hard, so ask my husband to help. I also look back through the photos on my phone for the past year. This surprises me. I half expect to see nothing but photos of my children screaming through my zoom meetings as I throw snacks in their general direction. What I see instead is smiling faces in the garden, happy walks in the park, a couple of outdoor meet-ups with friends and family last summer, even a few shots of them eating fruit, instead of chocolate. All of these memories have been totally blocked by my feelings of guilt.

What strikes me is I how much I have done this last year to get us through. If I had time to frame or make a collage of these photos I would. I clearly don’t (cue more guilty thoughts). Instead, as a reminder of what I have done, I save one of us all smiling as my phone screensaver. It is an exercise I thoroughly recommend you try.

you have done much more than you think. Give yourself some credit.

4) This year has been hard enough, so do what’s helpful.

Self-criticism and guilt go hand in hand and may have become a bit of a habit. It can help to explore what impact this is having on you and your family. Ask yourself:

a)Is being hard on myself helping us at all? For me, the answer is no.

b)Are there any disadvantages? For me, it makes me feel rubbish and much more in my own head, which in turn makes it harder to have fun with the kids.

If beating ourselves up is not helping us, or our children, it is probably a good idea to try to notice when dwelling on it, and to let it go. For me this includes dropping my standards. The kids won’t be getting any home-made hummus this year, and that’s ok (to be honest they only did once before COVID and, on account of it tasting like Polyfilla, nobody ate it anyway). I realise comparing myself unfairly on social media has not been helping. An Instagram photo only shows a one second window into the lives of others. You may see little Jessica eating a rainbow food bowl or practicing her phonics, but what you don’t see is the tantrum and screen time that come after. I decide to unfollow all the mummy food accounts on Instagram that tend to make me feel bad about myself. Quite frankly, if any of us manage to throw the occasional bit of broccoli in with the fish fingers this year, we are winning.

“Try not to compare yourself to other parents on social media.”

5) Be kind to yourself – What would you tell any other parent?

Thinking of the compassion I felt upon hearing my colleagues’ struggles, I remember how key it is to tune into kindness for yourself when struggling with guilt.What would we say to any other parent who has gone through/is still going through what we have? I spend a moment thinking of a close friend of mine who has had a hard year juggling work and kids. I first imagine what I would say to her. When I tune into my feelings of compassion, I then start writing a note to myself:

‘Dear Emma, give yourself a break! You have done the best you possibly could in the hardest year of your life. You’ve juggled full-time work and childcare for two children during a global pandemic. All while getting used to working at home, away from family and friends, with little sleep and no break. You deserve a medal rather than being so hard on yourself. Extra TV and snacks is essential COVID survival. You are doing a great job, even if you don’t feel like it. Be kind to yourself.’

Writing a compassionate message to yourself and reading it back may feel like a strange thing to do, but I wholeheartedly recommend trying it. Once you have, try to plan in a regular small act of self-kindness. I make a plan to take a proper lunch break away from the screen each day that week and read a little of my book (and when I managed it, it felt amazing). Our children can only benefit from treating ourselves a little better.

Feeling a little lighter, I close the laptop and turn off Paw Patrol. Once the whinging about the TV going off has stopped and I have mediated another row over Lego, my eldest son digs his elbow into my tummy, “squidgy mummy” he reminds me. He spots the exasperated look on my face and corrects himself: “you are the best mummy” he says.

For once I decide to let myself believe him. And you know what? The rest of the afternoon felt a little better for it.


If you are struggling with excessive feelings of low mood or anxiety, do reach out for help. Many employers, including my own university, offer psychological support through employee assistance programmes. There are helpful resources, including information on accessing talking therapies, on the Every Mind Matters NHS page.

NEST is our dedicated staff network for supporting parents and carers at King’s. they provide support to staff with parental and/or caring responsibilities through a range of events, an online community, and by offering guidance and representation at a strategic and policy level. You can find our more about NEST here.

The case for diversity quotas in recruitment

In this blog Timothy Ijoyemi, Research Fellow and Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Advocate at Durham University, explores the  case for diversity quotas in recruitment. 


Of the numerous ways to address BAME under representation in higher education and many other sectors, diversity quotas are among the most controversial. To suggest that a portion of roles within an organisation should be reserved for applicants from underrepresented groups is to invite accusations of unfairness, discrimination, and naivety. After all, shouldn’t a meritocratic society let people rise and fall on their merits? Isn’t it naïve to think that hiring on any criteria other than aptitude and experience won’t negatively impact productivity? This post outlines some of the arguments in support of quotas, as well as research findings that should give opponents pause for thought. 

The myth of meritocracy 

One powerful argument against the charge that quotas undermine meritocracy is that there’s no meritocracy to undermine in the first place. Power and privilege define the metrics of merit – however reasonable they might seem – meanwhile structural and implicit biases make it harder for members of underprivileged groups to convince recruiters that they satisfy these criteria. Ironically, by helping to level an uneven playing field, quotas could actually bring us closer to the very meritocratic ideal so often invoked to contest them. 

Softer methods of increasing diversity don’t always work 

Of all the levers available to recruiters wanting to increase organisational diversity, quotas are one of the most powerful. When implemented as temporary measures, they can kick-start progress that might otherwise take decades to achieve, or never materialise at all. There is ample evidence from corporate American, for instance, that ‘soft’ approaches to increasing diversity – including diversity training, hiring tests, performance ratings, and grievance systems – don’t reliably translate to more diverse work forces or company boards. By comparison, stronger “affirmative action” initiatives in U.S. college admissions have had considerable success in increasing admissions of students from underrepresented groups, with one study finding that students of colour were 23% less likely to be admitted to elite institutions in states where legal challenges had succeeded in banning these initiatives.  

While quotas don’t necessitate affirmative action – or positive action as termed in the UK’s  Equality Act 2010 – they would strongly incentivise recruiters to find and attract talent from underrepresented groups. They would also give a solid rationale for implementing positive action, such as preferentially hiring a candidate from an under-represented group over a non-minority candidate where the two are equally qualified. 

Existing BAME talent can meet organisational demands 

On its face, the concern that quotas would require lowering recruitment standards smacks of prejudice, seeming to rest on the assumption that members of underrepresented groups are less likely to possess abilities that make members of privileged groups generally more suitable for (particularly higher level) organisational roles. A more charitable take is that those expressing this concern know that structural and overt discrimination hinders attainment for many underrepresented groups, seeing differences in hiring rates as a regrettable, but inevitable, outcome. Aside from passing the buck for increasing workplace diversity to institutions dominant earlier in the pipeline (e.g., schools), this attitude reflects a poor estimation of BAME talent. Educational attainment at GCSE is now higher among many BAME groups than white British pupils, while the percentage of 18 year olds from every BAME group entering higher education has risen dramatically over time. Despite this, examples of under representation in the workplace abound. To take just one example, while over seven percent of first year postgraduate entrants in 2017/18 were black, only 0.6% of university professors belong to this group. Diversity quotas would help to close the gap between BAME educational attainment and success in securing commensurate workplace roles.  

Initial concerns dissipate after quotas are introduced 

Some argue that diversity quotas are simply too divisive to be used. While it’s true that quotas are generally viewed unfavourably by members of privileged groups in the UK, there’s good reason to believe that this is at least partly rooted in suspicion of the unfamiliar. Indeed, research conducted in the U.S. and Europe has found that attitudes of board members towards gender diversity quotas are more favourable in countries with quotas than without. And this doesn’t simply reflect pre-existing differences in opinion. In Norway, even company directors who opposed gender diversity quotas before they were introduced eventually came to view them positively. Far from seeing their fears realised, these directors said that increased female representation on boards had led to better governance and decision making. Considering the numerous benefits that accrue to organisations with more ethnically diverse employees, it seems likely that broader diversity quotas would also be viewed more favourably once their positive effects were felt. Sometimes bold leadership is needed to implement good but unpopular solutions. 

Diversity quotas are not a panacea for the barriers to employment that underrepresented groups face, nor are they without controversy. Nevertheless, delivered in a targeted, time-limited way, they could be the shock to the system needed to break through the diversity ceilings that more tepid approaches have failed to breach. 

King’s reflections a year on from George Floyd’s murder – Part 4

In the fourth installment of our community reflections a year on from the murder of George Floyd, we bring you comments from; the faculty of Natural, Mathematical & Engineering Sciences and Fundraising & Supported Development.  


 

Helen Coulshed, Faculty Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committee Chair, Natural, Mathematical & Engineering Sciences 

Reflect on the last year, on the commitments you made and your personal learning and development.  

This has been a pivotal year for NMES, appointing the first person of colour as Executive Dean, a female as EDI lead for the faculty and we also now have 3 out of 5 departments with female Heads. Professor Bashir M. Al-Hashimi and Dr Helen Coulshed, with the support of her Deputy chairs Donna Niccolls and Lauren Feltham, have ensured that race and racism has remained high on the agenda for our faculty.   

Our focus has been to engage with key stakeholders at conversations about race (CAR), understand what training is available at King’s (race and racism training at SMT) and what still needs to happen to increase the wider feeling of inclusion experienced by all our staff and students.   

What you have done as a result in your areas of the university?  

We have worked with Arkam to develop conversations about race to take it beyond dialogue and progress into action orientated discussions about how to improve the culture for current staff and students and improve allyship. This will involve working with Ms Nkasi Stoll, a PhD student from psychological medicine and her research into mental health of black students at King’s. We hope to have her as an invited speaker and run both allyship workshops, mental health support and advertise her Black students talk program.  

We are talking with Messiah Odinma (head of student success) about attainment gap training for academic staff to build on the personal tutor guidance for students of colour that was created by our inclusive education student partners of 20/21. Messiah will talk with NMES academic staff about the attainment gap, some of its causes and their role in eradicating it through supporting underrepresented students. Staff away days and all staff meetings will be used for delivery of this training opportunity.  

Dr Ashwin Matthew from Digital Humanities has also given a talk about decolonising computer science at our weekly education elevenses. This sparked a lot of interest and discussion about what a decolonised science curriculum looks like. NMES is now part of the KCL decolonisation working group and will start engaging with projects to facilitate decolonisation of our science curriculum.  

NMES has committed an additional £10,000 towards inclusivity training. Allyship and inclusive recruitment training have been prioritised in accordance with the King’s Race Equality Charter action plan.   

We successfully applied for the Race Equality and Inclusive Education Fund for a student to help analyse first year core module attainment and engagement data. The aim of the project is to determine what assessment types reduce or remove attainment gaps based on ethnicity, gender, and fee status and create guidance on how to make the science curriculum more inclusive.   

What difference you think has been made?   

We have more engagement with more communities within the Faculty in EDI work. Our NMES Student EDI forum has developed a sense of agency through influencing Faculty priorities and working closely with our inclusive education student partners (IESPs) on their personal tutor guidance for supporting students of colour.  

What you feel still needs doing?   

Better communication and connectivity of work happening within departments and at NMES-level to ensure that anti-racism and inclusion is a shared endeavour. Creation of spaces to discuss race and racism at King’s, more mental health support for staff and students, considering ‘weathering’ effect that this year will have had on black or mixed heritage black staff and students are all potential areas of future focus. NMES PhD studentships exclusively for Black and mixed heritage black students and be more overt in recognising we have more to do to ensure we are representative across all grades. 

 

Jennie Younger, Executive Director of Development and Alumni Relations, Fundraising & Supported Development 

Fundraising & Supported Development Leadership Team and the wider Dept has committed to talking openly and honestly about racism and race equality, and backing this up with action that delivers tangible impact. To support this, external support has been brought in to facilitate discussions at the LT, building confidence and capability in terms of talking about race. This supported the LT’s engagement with a Department-wide session in March, where all staff participated in group discussions about racism and race equality, considering their own personal experiences, the extent to which they had thought about the topic, and what action they wanted to see. Twelve members of staff were trained by Citizens UK to facilitate these discussions, which received excellent feedback from participants, even though all acknowledged the uncomfortable nature of the discussions.  

A Working Group, sponsored and chaired by a member of the LT, is now taking the outputs of these discussions and using them to build an action plan, to deliver change and impact over 21/22 and beyond. This is focussing on the following themes:  

  • Communicating with alumni and supporters   
  • Cultures and values   
  • Inductions and training   
  • ‘Money in and money out’ (considering race equality in terms of gift acceptance and what we fundraise for)    
  • Recruitment and progression   

A further set of Departmental conversations are planned at the F&SD Departmental Awayday in July.  

F&SD is collaborating with other PS Directorates to ensure there is alignment and to maximise impact, as well as looking externally for advice and support (e.g. the EDI lead from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation has attended a Working Group meeting to share best practice).   We appreciated Sarah’s time at a recent F&SD leadership team meeting..  

Meanwhile I am on the EDI working group for the Ross Group (Russell Group Development Directors plus Development leads from key Charities) where we are proposing a range of initiatives to address the issue in Fundraising and Alumni Relations.  

 


You can read the other blogs in this series here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Championing Diversity and Inclusion in King’s Business School

King’s Business School lecturer and Inclusive Education Partner, Ilia Protopapa, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Project Officer, Tyler John, and D&I Consultant, Antonis Kazouris, reflect on EDI within King’s Business School, and how creating inclusive environments can help everybody flourish.


3 King's students walking across the quad at Strand Campus

Aligned to King’s Strategic Vision 2029, the King’s Business School is committed to developing and promoting a diverse and inclusive environment for all our students. The attainment gap (sometimes referred to as the awarding gap) is the difference in groups of students achieving higher classification degrees’ (a First or 2:1).The gap is focused on the Black attainment gap. The development of an inclusive environment for our students, where barriers to learning are removed for all, is a priority. Evidence suggests that experiences and engagement in the University significantly affect the performance of students from underrepresented ethnicity backgrounds.

Listening to our students’ voices

Dr. Ilia Protopapa, Lecturer in Marketing and Inclusive Education Partner at King’s Business School, discusses about the importance of involving students in the design of D&I actions towards closing the attainment gap.

While transitioning from a face-to-face mode of teaching to a flexible delivery plan during the pandemic, we promptly introduced measures to generate insights on what our students felt about diversity and inclusion matters. Involving our students in the design of diversity and inclusion initiatives is an essential part of our strategy. Working closely with our Inclusive Education Students Partners, Angad Khanna, Chloe Abbade, Trisha Benerjee and Pranjal Vig at King’s Business School, and with the aim to inform evidence-driven initiatives, questions to assess students’ perceptions of diversity, inclusion and respect were introduced to the King’s College Institutional Survey run by the WhatWorks department. The King’s Institutional Survey aimed to assess students’ experiences during the first academic term of 2020/21. The first questions on diversity, inclusion and respect were launched in December 2020 and the first set of data was collected and analysed.

What do our students say?

The survey was launched across all King’s College London’s faculties. Overall, students from an ethnic minority across undergraduate and postgraduate levels at King’s Business School suggest that they feel accepted, valued, respected and that racism is actively discouraged. Business students suggested that people’s differences are recognised and respected and that they feel supported to bring the best of themselves to their studies. Our ethnic-minority undergraduate students in year 1 suggest that that they can be themselves without worrying about how they will be accepted (83.37%). Our ethnic minority undergraduate students in year 2 strongly feel that they are valued, and that people’s differences are respected and recognised in the institution (100%). The year 3 ethnic minority undergraduate students feel strongly supported to bring the best of themselves to their studies (100%). Lastly, our ethnic minority postgraduate students (KBS) feel respected (88.64%) and valued (80.00%). Following up on these results, our Inclusive Education Students Partners, Trisha Banerjee and Pranjal Vig are designing and plan to implement student focus groups to elicit qualitative data on students’ experience.

Putting Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the heart of the Business School

Mr. Tyler John, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Project Officer gives an overview of the D&I actions, plan and educational sources for staff and students at College and Business School level.

Events of the last year, including a global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, have reminded us that equality, diversity and inclusion are more important than ever. Every day, we continue to see the disastrous consequences of the socioeconomic disparities that exist across the world; disparities that widen and grow the more they are ignored. In aiming to be a world-leading business school, we must provide our students with a nourishing and accepting learning environment – to do this, equality, diversity, and inclusion must be at the heart of everything we do.

A key tenet of both King’s Vision 2029 and the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategy is the idea that King’s should not only be a place where everyone can bring their full selves to their work or their studies, but that they should be encouraged to and feel confident doing so. Research suggests that when students feel their identities are accepted and that there are appropriate support mechanisms in place for them, they exhibit ‘greater intellectual and cultural engagement’, ‘better understanding of their field’, and a better ‘overall University experience’.

Over the next year, King’s Business School will be working to establish committed EDI governance within its structure, including an EDI committee and an action plan, to help us embed EDI thinking and behaviours into our everyday business. In the meantime, what can we do to ensure that King’s Business School is a place where everyone can thrive? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Develop your understanding of EDI issues. If you’re a member of staff, take part in our Diversity Matters training, to learn more about unpacking your unconscious biases. Take a look at King’s Cultural Competency resources, to kickstart your thinking about how to better engage with new and different perspectives.
  • Engage with EDI activity. Join one of our staff networks and help shape the King’s community.
  • Attend a Conversations About Race session, to hear more about experiences of race across King’s.
  • Join a student forum or staff EDI committee to make your voice heard and be part of the action.
  • Learn! We are all responsible for our own learning, so it’s important to seek out new information where you can. Read articles, blogs and journals about new ideas or things you don’t understand, and absorb as much diverse content as possible. You can find guidance and resources relating to EDI on our website, and read (or even contribute to!) our Diversity Digest blog here.

For more information on how you can embed EDI within your teaching or practices, take a

look at the AdvanceHE EDI Hub. You can also take a look at the EDI homepage on the King’s website to read more about our work and how you can get involved.

Cultural competency for graduates and future leaders.

Mr. Antonis Kazouris is a London-based diversity and inclusion (noted as D&I) consultant with extensive experience in employee engagement and experience in leading organisations such as Willis Towers Watson, Coca-cola HBC and IpsosMORI and was invited to offer his perceptive on King’s Business School D&I initiatives towards closing the attainment gap.

Antonis suggests that: ‘Your today’s students are tomorrow’s employees. Listening to students’ and employees’ voices to strategically design initiatives towards a more inclusive society has become a necessity rather than a “good-to-have” option and a moral responsibility for every organisation. A big proportion of businesses are continuously investing on employee listening projects that enable them to listen and understand their employees’ perceptions on D&I, sustainability, culture and other social matters. Businesses inform decisions based on D&I outcomes and seek to hire individuals with cultural competence capabilities more than ever. Offering a diverse and inclusive environment during volatile times requires good listening skills and opportunities for individuals to make their voices heard. King’s strategic research-led approach on inclusive education can help graduates to build the social skills and align them with values that successful companies are looking for, more and more’.

 

 

portrait of Ilia Protopapa

Ilia Protopapa

Dr. Ilia Protopapa is a Lecturer in Marketing and an Inclusive Education Partner (IEP) at King’s Business School. Ilia is working towards diversity and inclusion actions with the aim to close the attainment gap at King’s Business School. She is passionate about designing and promoting inclusive, evidence-driven pedagogic approaches in higher education. Her research interest lies at brand management, consumption value, regulatory focus, brand alliances and higher education.

 

 

Portrait of Tyler John

Tyler John

Tyler John is an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Project Officer within the EDI Function at King’s College London. He works part-time with both The Dickson Poon School of Law and Kings Business School on shaping and facilitating their EDI initiatives.

 

 

portrait of Antonis Kazouris

Antonis Kazouris

Antonis Kazouris is a D&I and employee insights consultant with years of experience in designing employee engagement and experience initiatives. Antonis has graduated with an MSc in Human Resources and Organisations from London School of Economics and holds advisory positions in the employee research industry in London and across Europe. He has lead projects on D&I and engagement for Willis Towers Watson, Coca-Cola HBC and IpsosMORI.

 

Love and Rage – but right now, mostly rage

Lauren Blackwood, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Project Officer at KCL reflects on this years UK Black Pride theme of ‘love and rage’. 


Content Warnings: black death, trans death, ableism, racism, and queerphobia.  

It is somewhat bittersweet that I have a platform to write about my rage. It is not often that black people get to do this and be heard, comforted, or accepted by our audience (Ashley 2014; American Psychological Association 2020). Even whilst writing this, I must perform a level of palatability on this platform – juggling respectability politics, tone policing, colonial ideals of professionalism, providing citations for my literal lived experiences so that I’m seen as credible, and my own authenticity – it’s peak. It’s also peak that we – my community, my ancestors, and I – even have to feel this rage and to have carried it over generations for over 400 years. We do not need anyone to validate our outrage, and we don’t need anyone to justify it. I would much rather just exist in a world where we’re loved, and feel love, and I’d get to just write about love. But honestly, that remains an out of reach utopia, even in big-big 2021.  

This year and a half has been a perfect opportunity for non-black people to hear black people, see black life, suffering, and rage. In addition to this, we’ve seen the love that black people continue to extend to one another for the sake of love, survival, and community. To be clear, it is not that these opportunities were not available to non-black people before; it just became a lot harder to avoid engaging with these walks of life. To make it even more shit, what they have witnessed is only a tiny snippet of our lived experiences. Even this opportunity given to non-black people was at the expense of the ongoing detriment of black peoples, and a result of our global suffering and consequent rage.  

We’ve had to watch non-black, and non-queer, people find out for the first time that black people disproportionately account for 14% of UK missing persons – but makeup only 3% of the population (White 2021), “Black and migrant trans women of colour [being] more vulnerable and frequently targeted” (Trans Respect 2020) and “People of colour mak[ing] up 79% of the 28 trans people murdered in the USA” (Trans Respect 2020) in 2020, that the school to prison pipeline exists and has historically targeted black children and youth in Britain (Graham 2016), that there’s a lack of public health services tailored to meet black people’s needs (Mind 2019; La Roche et al 2015). None of this is new news to those that it effects, but it’s so incredibly enraging that change so heavily relies on white people, and cishet people, catching up with what we already know and have been protesting about for generations. And just as a note, we’re hardly even close to having proportionate data on black queer lives to be centrally collected and easily accessible in the UK.  

But in the face-off all of this historical and contemporary violence, failure, and exclusion from our institutions, queer black people still manage to love and support one another; Lady Phil has given queer black people, Black Pride – a space to exist authentically and unapologetically; Melz Owusu has founded a first of it’s kind University, the Free Black University, alongside completing their PhD giving black people the freedom to regain control and access to our own education and epistemologies; Azekel Axelle founded the Black Trans Foundation supporting black trans and gender non-conforming people access healthcare through fundraising and establishing a network of Queer, Trans, and Intersex, People of Colour (QTIPOC) healthcare experts; Eshe Kiama Zuri initiated the Mutual Aid Fund supporting marginalised people, at the intersections of oppression, across the UK. Even when thinking about all of this love and community response I’m perpetually enraged that it even needs to be done. Imagine if we didn’t have to pour ourselves and all of our energy into meeting our basic needs as queer black people – imagine if that kind of love existed beyond our community. Bruh, rage!!! 

Donate to queer black people and organisations this month and every month, whether that be time, requested resources, or money; continuously invest your energy into self-educating about queer black lives, experiences, and history – I promise that you will not run out of valuable things to be learnt; listen to queer black people and act on what you hear – I’m tired of repeating the same requests for meeting basic needs and liberation.  

Happy Black Pride, I guess. Pop up if you want my PayPal (for professional and legal reasons this is a joke).  


American Psychological Association. (2020, July 2). Prospective teachers misperceive Black children as angry [Press release]. http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2020/07/racialized-anger-bias 

Ashley W. The angry black woman: the impact of pejorative stereotypes on psychotherapy with black women. Soc Work Public Health. 2014;29(1):27-34. doi: 10.1080/19371918.2011.619449. PMID: 24188294. 

Graham, K. (2016). The British School-to-Prison Pipeline. Blackness in Britain. 

Mind (2019) https://www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/legal-news/legal-newsletter-june-2019/discrimination-in-mental-health-services/ 

White (2021) Accessed at: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/black-people-missing-b1827530.html 

La Roche, M. J., Fuentes, M. A., & Hinton, D. (2015). A cultural examination of the DSM-5: Research and clinical implications for cultural minorities. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 46(3), 183–189. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0039278 

Trans Respect (2020) Accessed at: https://transrespect.org/en/tmm-update-tdor-2020/ 

 

Black Pride 2021

As Pride Month draws to a close Sarah Guerra, Director of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at King’s, reflects on ‘love and rage’ the theme for this weekends UK Black Pride event. 


Picture: KCL LGBT+ Staff Network ‘Proudly King’s’ attending a pride march 


I am currently reading Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez – its been on my list for while and it is a happy coincidence that I am reading it during Pride Month here in the UK. I haven’t finished it yet, but its central character is a black, gay man in his early 20s.  Its set in the early 80s and he is from the Black Country (that’s in the Midlands for those not familiar with English geography). Jessie was raised within a Jehovah’s Witness community. I am finding it both fascinating and also feel quite detached from it. I have had to reflect on this as it is unusual for me. I generally feel absolutely immersed in these kinds of personal narrative novels. I love Zadie Smith, Bernadine Evaristo, Andrea Levy and Meera Syal novels for example – what’s the difference? I am assuming that the stories and characters in those books spoke to me more directly. I felt like I was the characters or knew them. I feel more like a spectator or tourist in Rainbow Milk – maybe that is the writer’s objective? It is something that has caused me to really think deeply as I write to support our King’s College London Pride Month and in particular UK Black Pride.

To honour this particularly difficult year for so many in our communities, UK Black Pride’s 2021 theme is “Love and Rage”.

Why has that theme been chosen?  I feel it is because for so many their identity and their love have to be hidden. That being black or brown in this world – certainly in this country is hard. You then layer other intersections into someone’s identity – different forms of gender expression, loving within the same gender and those challenges multiply – unless we do something to stop that.

UK Black Pride says “We are also raging, disappointed and tired. Our communities continue to be overlooked and undervalued, tokenised and discarded. From constant gaslighting to this country’s steadfast refusal to address and redress structural and institutional racism, we have a lot to be mad about.

Our anger is righteous. Our love is righteous.”

2020 and 2021 has seen many find their voices in a far more determined and collective way. It has opened the eyes of many who have allowed themselves to be sleepy in relation to discrimination and exclusion.

Pride has become, for many, synonymous with a big party, glitter, dancing, music etc. Certainly, when I had the pleasure of going to Mardi Gras in Sydney many years ago, I know I didn’t consider the deeper meaning and messages. I didn’t fully understand or appreciate why my friends felt so happy and free at this event. I, as someone who has only relatively recently understood the breadth of my own sexual orientation and bisexuality have lived my life with the protection of heterosexuality. Living as a heterosexual I never really had to explain my choices of partner or expect any backlash.

This month and every day we all need to challenge our selves to hear and understand other people’s stories which is why I am grateful to Paul Mendez and many others for writing books like Rainbow Milk. We need to examine our own behaviour and consider how we react.  As always Shonda Rhimes (one of my absolute heroes) has recently given me the perfect words (Station 19, Season 4, Episode 10) Travis (has recently discovered his father is ‘in the closet’). He and his father are gradually working through understanding this about themselves and each other.

“Travis: Did you know that for most of my life I thought that it was my fault that you hated me, that I had done something wrong. For you to never come to any of my wrestling matches or meet any of my friends, not coming to my wedding and making mom follow suit. I just I couldn’t figure out why you hated me so much.

Paul: Travis, I could never hate you.

Travis: I know. I mean I know that now. You actually hate yourself. I just wish it didn’t take you so long to figure that out because that night with the soup, I could have used a dad that loved me, who loved himself, but instead, you just walked away.

Paul: I didn’t know what to say.

Travis: You should have said, ‘You’re loved. You’re supported, and the way you feel and how you love is valid. It’s important. You are important. And whoever you love or whatever path you take, I’m gonna be here for you without question or pause or judgment. I’m here for you, and I love you.’”

This short but powerful scene captured the complexity of the society that we are all contributing to that prevents people being able to be themselves and the levels of impact that has for individuals and families and helps explain the ‘Love and Rage’ theme.

I can’t say it better than Shonda Rhimes –

for everyone –

Please know that you are supported and that your love is valid. I work every day to create an environment where you can feel that without question or judgement.

Happy Pride Month everyone.

 


Resources;

  • Visit our EDI pages and explore our LGBT+ work & policies here.
  • You can learn more about and get involved with UK Black Pride here.
  • Find out more about our LGBT+ staff network Proudly King’s here.
  • Get involved with King’s LGBT+ student society here.

King’s reflections a year on from George Floyd’s murder – Part 3

In the third installment of our reflections a year on from the murder of George Floyd we share the personal reflections of Rabia Harrison - Director of Administration in The Dickson Poon School of Law.Walso hear from Stephen Bach and Suzanne Marcuzzi from King’s Business School.


Rabia Harrison , Director of Administration in The Dickson Poon School of Law.

The past year has demonstrated an institution wide commitment to bringing the race conversation to the fore.  We have held town hall meetings, student led conversations about race, an openness to hear different perspectives and a real recognition for the disparities that the organisation still has when it comes to representation and employment.  I have taken very seriously my own personal duty to reinforce conversations relating to race and have taken a much greater lead in highlighting specific instances where the relevance of race has either been overlooked or been overtly denigrated.  King’s has proven that it is ready to listen.  It is time to respond. 

A month ago I decided to share my personal story with my faculty.  It was an emotional piece about my lived experience as a British Muslim Pakistani girl growing up in an overtly racist area and my observations and encounters during my career.  I shared the piece because I knew that there were many colleagues in the same position as me who have for such a long time buried the hurt they have experienced and because there are also many colleagues who simply do not know the lived experience of a person of colour.  I was struck by how shocked the latter group of colleagues were upon hearing the reality of the day to day challenges a person like me has experienced.  Certainly, the power and significance of conversations such as these should make a change.  And yet, the experience of sharing has left me exposed with a vulnerability and open wound that is calling for a much greater commitment than simply being heard.  The more we speak about the race issues that exist, the more we surface the painful and intolerable encounters our BME community have suffered.  We are now at a crucial intersection and our next steps will not only define our position in the race debate but will also demonstrate to our community that we have listened, understood and are ready to make the right change.

 

Stephen Bach & Suzanne Marcuzzi, King’s Business School. 

While it has been a year since the death of George Floyd, the impact and immediacy of his killing have not faded. We could feel the legacy of his violent death, and the racially-motivated violent deaths of so many others before and since, permeating many aspects of our lives and the lives of those in the business school community of staff, students and partners over the last twelve months.  

Within the business school we have sought to listen, supporting conversations on race for our staff and students and hosting a panel talk ‘Business is Black’ to celebrate black voices in education and academia, but also to hear about the challenges our colleagues face because of explicit and implicit bias. We are now moving from conversation to action, having introduced a widening participation programme for students from our local boroughs, reviewing our hiring practices and the language in our adverts and on our website, exploring development and mentoring opportunities for our black and minority ethnic colleagues, and participating in the excellent More than Mentoring scheme ourselves.  

There remains much more to be done, and one important step is the recruitment of a Reader in Diversity and Inclusion to help us to draw upon the latest research to shape our approach to equality, diversity and inclusion. Our hope is that the Business School is a place which not only tolerates but celebrates diversity, in all its forms, and provides the appropriate support for staff and students to achieve their goals and to be their authentic selves at King’s.   

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