To kick off Anti-Bullying Week 2017, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant Nicole Walsh helps us to reflect on this year’s theme of ‘All Different, All Equal’. In this interview, Nicole considers how her role intersects with the aims of Anti Bullying Week, the value of diversity on campus and things that we can do to build a safe and inclusive community at KCL.
Can you tell us a little about your role, Nicole?
I am a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant and work as part of the central Diversity & Inclusion team which sits in HR. As part of this, I lead on the It Stops Here project, which is King’s campaign to promote King’s as a space that is free from sexual violence, bullying and harassment, and am further reviewing and developing our work on BME Student Success. My role primarily involves collaborating with various faculties and departments across King’s to support them in their work on diversity and inclusion for students and staff, which includes providing technical expertise around our legal compliance to the Equality Act 2010 but also supporting them to embed the values of diversity and inclusion into everyday practice.
How do you think this year’s theme relates to diversity and inclusion and your role in particular?
Anti-Bullying Week is directly related to my work on It Stops Here. It Stops Here is a collaborative campaign by King’s College London and KCLSU to build an environment for all of our community so that they feel welcome, supported and safe regardless of who they are. This means ensuring that our staff and students have a shared understanding of consent and are adequately equipped to respond and intervene safely in situations where they see someone experiencing sexual violence, bullying or harassment.
As we know that bullying is often related to an intolerance of difference, particularly in regards to individuals who possess some of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, it is important to understand the relationship between diversity, difference and bullying. As an institution, we need to ensure every member of the King’s community is treated with respect, and their whole, authentic self can contribute fully to the university.
What are our responsibilities as members of the KCL community in creating a campus free from bullying and harassment?
I think we all have the responsibility to take the educational opportunities provided, and create our own, to challenge our own views and perspectives, and become aware of our own behaviours. We should intervene when we see peers or colleagues experiencing unwanted behaviour or attention and ensure to interrupt conversations or jokes that promote a culture of bullying and harassment. One way to get involved at King’s is to take the It Stops Here Pledge and undertaking some of the training we offer.
Why is it so important to celebrate difference and diversity within the university community?
As a global university, difference and diversity is a heart of King’s and the work that we do. Celebrating difference allows us to challenge preconceived ideas of who gets to go to university, and who gets to succeed at a university such as King’s. The more we are able to celebrate and centre difference, the better we will become at creating an environment where people feel they can bring their whole selves to our community.
How can we do this as an institution?
As an institution embedding diversity and inclusion into all of our work and decision making is key to being able to celebrate difference as well as to regularly challenge not only ourselves as individuals, but our institutional structures and processes. The way we work, sometimes just by unquestioned routine, can perpetuate institutional bias and disadvantage or marginalise certain staff or students that we work with.
We need to question how we’ve come to the decisions we have and where something doesn’t work- we need to have the courage to speak up and challenge it, in order to create an environment that enables everybody to not only be themselves but also allows them to thrive.
Last year’s theme was ‘power for good’. What is yours and how to you use it?
Working in the D&I team is my power for good. It allows me to partner with teams and departments across the university and access the wealth of knowledge that we have available here at King’s, both in the research that is developed here and the brilliant professional services we have behind the scenes. Our team, with the support of the King’s community, is taking action to prevent bullying, harassment and sexual violence, creating a safe environment for staff and students which is something that I am incredibly proud to be a part of.
Do you have any top tips for reading around the theme of D&I?
As someone who is a huge fan of audio books, The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla is a book I would highly recommend. In the audio version, each essay is read by the respective author which brings the struggle and humour to life in a personal and powerful way.
Thank you Nicole!
Anti Bullying Week is a national campaign run each year by the Anti Bullying Alliance. Please see the King’s Wellbeing website for a summary of Anti Bullying Week 2017 at King’s and sources of support if you are concerned about bullying and harassment.