Parliamentary group report features Sussex staff affinity network

L-R: Baroness Hunt of Bethnal Green, Alison Field (Senior Communications Manager, University of Sussex), Gillian Keegan MP (Co-Chair of the APPG) and Rebecca Hilsenrath (CEO Equality and Human Rights Commission)

Minister for Women Victoria Atkins MP

Tracy Brabin MP

Sussex students Mahdi Murtaza and Rebecca Spencer with APPG Co-Chair Gillian Keegan MP

A cross-party group of MPs and Peers has heard how the University is supporting its staff through affinity networks.

The Women and Work All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), which is supported by a number of organisations including the University of Sussex, is calling on employers to take steps to make workplaces more inclusive for all employees.

The group’s toolkit, Inclusivity and Intersectionality, gives a number of recommendations for employers to help support and empower all women. It says that employers should encourage employees to create and join affinity networks and includes the University’s LGBT+ Staff Network as a case study.

The APPG recently heard from Alison Field, Senior Communications Manager at Sussex and a member of the staff network, who spoke about the important role of affinity networks in supporting staff and raising visibility. Alison highlighted the University’s equality, diversity and inclusion strategy Inclusive Sussex.

The toolkit was launched on Monday (10 February) at an event attended by Alison, who was joined by the University’s Associate Director of Public Affairs, Lenny Rolles, and Sussex students.

Gillian Keegan MP, Co-Chair of the Women and Work APPG, said: Our work this year has shown that viewing women as a singular group often fails to recognise the variety of barriers that women face in the workplace.

“One woman’s experience at work can be hugely different to another’s and it is important to understand these differences.”

Jess Phillips MP, Co-Chair of the group, said: “Too often, we see marginalised women overlooked by mainstream discourse on how to support women in the workplace.

“It is clear that the key to building a more inclusive workplace is to recognise these intersections: there is much more to our identities than just being women.”

Women’s Minister Victoria Atkins MP welcomed the report and said that government officials are working through its recommendations. Rebecca Hilsenrath, Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, recognised the contribution the University had made to the APPG. Former Chief Executive of Stonewall Baroness Hunt and Tracy Brabin MP also spoke at the event.

The Women and Work APPG was set up at the beginning of 2016 in response to an increasing public and political focus on the role of women in the workforce and the acknowledgement from Government that the UK economy underuses women’s talents and misses out on a “huge economic prize”.

The University has supported the APPG for a number of years and regularly contributes to its work. Our ‘flexible by default’ recruitment practice was featured in its 2018 toolkit How to Recruit Women for the 21st Century.

Lenny Rolles, Associate Director of Public Affairs for the University, commented: “Supporting the APPG has enabled Sussex to contribute to discussions and impact government policy. Our ‘flexible by default’ working policy has been cited as an example of good practice and has helped to inform policy discussions at a national level.”

The theme for the APPG in 2020 is wellbeing and mental health in the workplace.  

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Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex Public Affairs
Last updated: Wednesday, 12 February 2020