University of Sussex joins Stonewall Diversity Champions programme
The University of Sussex is actively promoting equality on campus by becoming a Stonewall Diversity Champion.
By joining the LGBT charity’s programme, the University hopes to create an inclusive and accepting campus environment for all students, staff and visitors.
This builds on a Sussex tradition of pioneering work in this area: 30 years ago the University established the Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence and it has supported student LGBT+ societies since the 1970s.
More recently it initiated an internal LGBT+ Staff Network and a university-level trans advocacy role. The University sponsors Pride Brighton & Hove (which takes place this weekend, 4-5 August) and the annual Brighton Trans, Non-Binary and Intersex Conference.
Over the past year the University has continued to raise the profile and awareness of trans and non-binary identity and expression at Sussex. This will continue to be a priority focus under the leadership of the University’s Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Diversity and Equality), Claire Annesley, who recently outlined the University’s commitment to its trans students and staff.
Stonewall work with more than 750 organisations across the public and private sectors, with Sussex adding to a growing list of universities that are putting diversity at the heart of their agendas.
Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell says: “Here at the University of Sussex, we are actively working to ensure we have a truly inclusive campus environment.
“With the help of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme, we aim to transform the campus into one where everyone in our community has an equal sense of belonging and opportunity and can thrive during their time here and beyond.”
The University will start its work with Stonewall by reviewing relevant policies to ensure they are LGBT inclusive.
Stonewall is also supporting the University’s submission to the Workplace Equality Index 2019 and an action plan that will cover areas such as staff recruitment and training, community engagement, and supporting the LGBT+ Staff Network.
Claire Annesley says: “This scheme and others like it for race and disability are for us not tick-box exercises but important tools which give leverage to address issues substantively and with support from all parts of the institution.”
With the support of the Diversity Champions programme, Sussex will be able to assess its progress on LGBT equality through Stonewall’s benchmarking tool, the Workplace Equality Index.
The index is becoming increasingly competitive, with more than 434 UK employers making submissions in 2018, the highest number since it was first compiled in 2005.
Claire says: “We aim by 2025 to be ranked in Stonewall’s list of its Top 100 Employers – an annual list that assesses submissions to the Workplace Equality Index to showcase the best employers for lesbian, gay, bi, and trans staff.”
This bold ambition forms part of “Equal Sussex” - the first goal in the University’s new equality, diversity and inclusion strategy.
For 2018-19 the focus will be to get benchmarking data as well as feedback on what needs to be delivered through the action plan so that Sussex can achieve its goal of being in Stonewall’s top 100 by 2025.
Kate O’Riordan, Co-Chair of the LGBT+ Staff Network and Head of Media, Film and Music, says: “I am really delighted that the University is formalising its commitments to LGBT+ equality at this level. It is great news for the network and for all staff at Sussex.
“This will enable the pioneering work that has for so long been at the heart of Sussex, and has been so influential internationally, return to transform the institution itself.”