Race equality: our commitment and progress

On the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, Professor Dame Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor, highlights some of progress we are making to reflect on and address racial inequalities across the institution.

Another year has passed since the murder of George Floyd, a murder which shocked the world and brought the continued racism, discrimination and barriers faced by Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups and individuals very much into focus.

We form a University community but we are also members of a wider community, dedicated to a sustainable and just society. Every member of that community deserves to feel safe, welcome, and the freedom to be their full and authentic selves, so, it is for us individually and collectively to ensure that we act to prevent racial injustice in Higher Education.

We have been clear, both at the time of George Floyd’s death and subsequently, that we have a great deal of work to do at the University of Liverpool to eradicate racism and racial inequalities. We have also consistently said that we will be unerring in our pursuit of this goal. Unfortunately, there is no quick solution, no easy fix. However, it is absolutely essential that we continue to hold ourselves to account, to review progress made and to accelerate progress wherever possible.

In February, Professor Fiona Beveridge, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and Chair of the Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment Team (REC SAT), reflected on some of the inequalities we need to address, as well as the work undertaken in the year following our sign-up to the principles of Advance HE’s Race Equality Charter, in a blog. In it she said that 80% of the October 2020 Tackling Racial Harassment action plan had been completed and embedded into the University’s business as usual processes and policies, together with a commitment to report back with further updates on progress. I am pleased that we are now in a position to say that 100% of the action plan is complete, business as usual or fully absorbed under the work of the REC SAT.

Fiona also used her blog to lay down the challenge to all students and staff to play their part in helping us tackle racial inequalities and we have been delighted with the response. We saw significant engagement in the recently-closed Race Equality Charter survey, which saw over 1,200 student responses, and over 3,000 responses in total. I am grateful to everyone who took the time to take part in this exercise.

The survey feedback provides a hugely valuable source of data which colleagues will review for trends and areas of particular concern over the coming weeks. Outcomes will be analysed by demographic group to facilitate the development of dedicated actions to target specific racial inequalities, particularly where a racialised identity intersects with other characteristics such as gender or disability. In September we will publish a detailed breakdown of these results, together with some of our initial plans to tackle the issues raised. This will be followed by a series of more in-depth focus group sessions, acknowledging that, whilst incredibly useful in highlighting wider trends, the day-to-day manifestations of racism may not be visible through the analysis of data alone. A more detailed action plan will then be developed.

This careful, meticulous work is the only way we can be sure we have a true and clear sense of the wide range of barriers faced by Black, Asian and minority ethnic students and staff, in order that these may be addressed. Of course, that does not mean our other work stands still in the meantime, far from it. There are some very clear areas for improvement that we are already working to address, with priority actions including, but certainly not limited to: promoting diversity in the curriculum; enhancing inclusive teaching and assessment practice; the creation of credit and non-credit bearing activities to promote race equality; and the development of an intersectionality framework.

I am pleased with the progress which has been made, feel confident that important work is underway and that a wider action plan will be developed over the coming months, and I hope that this gives you confidence in the sincerity of our efforts and commitment to this agenda. However, I am not complacent, and neither is any member of the Senior Leadership Team or the REC SAT. There is still much to do and we must continue to push ahead at pace to attain the racial equality our community deserves.