Race Equality Charter - update on progress September 2022

Published on 27 September 2022

An update on our continuing work following our original Race Equality Charter award.

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Race Equality Charter - Bronze Award

Dear colleagues,

As most of you will be aware, in January we were awarded a bronze Race Equality Charter (REC) mark by Advance HE, an accolade that recognised the work that had been undertaken and the path the University was taking to challenge and rectify institutional processes and practices that perpetuate systemic racial inequalities.

The University has now held the bronze charter mark for just over nine months, and I thought it worthwhile updating you on some of our REC work over this period.

The implementation and delivery of our REC action plan is being overseen by a Race Equality Charter Implementation Team (RECIT).  This team is comprised of individuals who have adequate influence and seniority within the University to take ownership and responsibility for completing actions in areas closely aligned to their institutional remit.

The RECIT was established just prior to notification of the award. Some of the actions already achieved by the group are highlighted here to flag the early progress that has been made in the short time we have held the award:

  1. Action: University of Dundee to promote its Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) beliefs and vision clearly on its homepage, and, when appropriate, on social media pages.

    A clear and explicit statement now appears on the University website endorsing our institutional commitment to ED&I and zero tolerance towards any form of discrimination/bullying. In future, similar statements will appear on our social media pages when highlighting events that celebrate our institutional diversity such as Black History Month. 

  2. Action: To establish a communication/dialogue forum for Staff to engage in open discussion on race issues on and off campus.

    A "UoD Race Equality Conversations" community forum has been established on Yammer. Yammer is a collaboration tool that helps individuals connect and engage across the University, start conversations, share knowledge, and build communities.

    I would encourage staff to sign into Yammer with their UoD login credentials and join the UoD Race Equality Conversations community. The community has more than 180 staff members at present and provides a forum to engage in open and respectful discussion of race and cultural issues. As the community increases in size it will hopefully become self-sustaining and build a culture encouraging engagement and open debate about race issues.  It is hoped that this forum/platform will also be made accessible to students in the very near future, pending review of our licencing agreement.

  3. Action: Collaborate with Abertay Historical Society, Dundee City Council and community groups on the “Woven Together” research project.

    This project is exploring how Dundee has benefited from the culture and talents of migrants from different ethnic backgrounds coming to the city. Matthew Jarron (Curator of Museum Services, University of Dundee, and a member of the REC-SAT Group) has been actively involved with other colleagues from the Abertay Historical Society.  Learn more about the project and progress being made (Woven Together - Abertay Historical Society)

  4. Action: To support a research fellow on a short-term appointment on the University of Dundee Founders Project to explore institutional links to slavery and colonialism.

    Dr Cassandra Gooptar was appointed to this post and has recently completed her report on the Dundee’s historical links with the transatlantic slave trade and the how the University may have benefited from the direct and indirect proceeds of slavery from those involved in the founding of the institution. We are hoping to get Cassandra to give a presentation of her findings during Black History Month.

  5. Action: (i)To Increase the representation of BAME staff at senior levels of the institution including decision and policy making committees, key leadership roles. (ii) To promote targeted recruitment and application for future vacancies, succession and development planning targeted towards existing BAME staff. (iii) Address potential bias in recruitment activities at all stages and improve the diversity of recruitment panels

    Work on implementing this action has been initiated by the People team and will remain ongoing during the tenure of our REC award, but changes are being put in place to ensure greater BAME representation on promotions committees and recruitment panels. The BME staff network is also taking a more active role in encouraging its membership to consider positions/vacancies as and when they become available e.g., on Court and other committees.  The People team have been reviewing recruitment materials and guidance with a view to making recommendations and updates to address potential bias within our recruitment processes.

  6. Action: Provide targeted campaigns to promote and encourage BAME staff to engage with management and leadership development opportunities (similar to Aurora courses for women, StellarHE and Diversifying Leadership Programme from Advance HE) with recommendations being put forward to Talent and Development by Sponsors and the BME staff network on potential BAME candidates.

    The University has committed itself to supporting 5 BAME staff individuals annually to attend the Diversifying Leadership Programme from Advance HE.  Three staff (2 Academic and 1 Professional Services) have already attended the Spring programme and a further two will attend the programme in Autumn.  Talent and Development and the BME staff network will work together in future years to identify and develop a BAME academic/PS staff pipeline that is equipped with skills to apply for roles/positions that help diversify the University’s leadership staff profile.

  7. Action: Implementation of anti-racist training programme for those in key leadership and management roles.

    The university is committed to introducing an anti-racist training programme.  This has already been delivered to members of the University Executive Group and will be rolled out to all levels of management in the coming months with a view to be extended to the entire university community in due course.

  8. Action: There were several actions highlighted in our action plan that specifically address student-related issues around, for example. admissions, progression, attainment gap and graduate employability.

    A new sub-group has been setup to review actions within the student pipeline section of our action plan and to prioritise their implementation. These actions will be incorporated as part of the annual review of the University’s admissions policy with oversight being taken by the Student Recruitment and Admissions Committee.

  9. Action: University of Dundee to provide bursaries/scholarships to BAME UK students.

    The university offers numerous scholarships to international students across the globe. The Fees and Scholarship Committee is now reviewing a new agreement to develop a scholarship package for BAME students from within the UK from less privileged backgrounds.

  10. Action: Promote inclusive and diverse Black cultural events (seminars/debates) that are programmed throughout the year.  Invite staff and black student groups in particular to participate in the choice of speakers for Black History Month (BHM) and other yearlong cultural programmes. Engage the DUSA Executive with the REC process and have more active involvement with BHM.

    Jon Urch (Senior Public Engagement Officer) has been reaching out to potential speakers for events in and outwith BHM.  We hope to have a vibrant programme in place for October 2022 and beyond. The new DUSA executive have met with Professor Hari Hundal (REC lead) and Ajit Trivedi (Head of ED&I) and have been updated on our institutional REC work and are eager to play their role in promoting the principles of the REC to the student community they represent and in contributing more actively to events during BHM.

  11. Action: Create an editable, downloadable diversity calendar that identifies key festivals, religious dates and cultural events to raise awareness and celebrate diversity.

    Jon Urch and Emma Shea (Director Public Affairs and Communications) have agreed to incorporate cultural, religious and belief events into current calendars that are opt in and centrally supported. The Outlook planning calendar has been updated with 50+ annual events.  Process for launching the calendar is currently in progress.

I said when we published the result of the race equality survey that we must take greater action to make this University a truly fair and equitable place for all, regardless of race. The progress outlined above I hope gives a clear signal that we are absolutely committed to this and that we will live by our actions and not just words.

There is no place for racism in our University and in our society.

Professor Iain Gillespie
Principal & Vice-Chancellor


Press Office, University of Dundee