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Equality, Diversity and Inclusion = Educate, Develop and Influence

Banner image for Letters of equality

Letters of equality

The formation of Glasgow Clyde College, and serendipity, led me to my newly created role in 2013, focused entirely on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)….diversity in name, diverse in nature, phew!

The post provides me with the unique opportunity to undertake work that affects all staff, students and visitors to the college – with the emphasis on so much more than toilet signage and report writing. One day can include everything from promoting LGBTQI awareness with the Glasgow Clyde College Student Association to chairing the college’s BSL action group whilst supporting every protected characteristic in between.

A heady mix of strategic and operational work is involved from Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) reporting to providing class talks about respect. I have met with the misconception that equality is ‘all about action plans and report writing’, but it truly consists of so much more.

As EDI Officer, my remit includes ensuring compliance with government strategies and drivers from gender-based violence to race equality whilst staying up to date with all relevant national policies and procedures. I provide subject matter expertise and guidance on all things ‘equality’ to both staff and students not only for the college simply to remain compliant with legislation, but to enhance the learning and working experience for everyone at Glasgow Clyde College.

Whilst I do not work within a ‘team’ per se, the college is my team and collaborative partnership working is essential. Being Glasgow-based, I am very fortunate to have built up invaluable constructive working relationships with my EDI colleagues within the region and we collaborate as a team to develop good practice across the city. Staying abreast of new drivers and good practice warrants a fair amount of time away from my desk, travelling to meetings and events nationally.

The networking at these meetings has facilitated positive working relationships with EDI leads across both the college and university sectors. We share a combined understanding of the ever-evolving nature of equality and appreciate the demands faced in creating socially progressive colleges.

Our voices are heard at networks such as the Scottish Race Equality Network, which help underpin the work guided by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council, and PSED compliance is included within all college outcome agreements across Scotland.

The EDI landscape is anything but static and I relish the dynamism, as thankfully I enjoy change! Change management is intrinsic to the role, with one eye on the horizon in preparation for the new initiatives and drivers that shape our work. I also enjoy training and educating ‘under the radar’ by supporting staff with relevant objectives including equality impact assessments, training solutions, respect initiatives and class talks. Development of a diverse and inclusive college helps students to learn not only about their specific subject matter, but also about attitudes and behaviours that will benefit them in any work place.

Whilst open to learning new things, reflecting on how we can improve, I am often in situations that require thinking on my feet. EDI related work requires the honing of many skills, including being open minded, a negotiator, having the ability to relate and empathise with a diverse range of people, being a creative problem solver as well as having plenty of patience and resilience. EDI is a fundamental part of education and is essential learning for us all. Inequality and discrimination are universal concerns and colleges need to prepare students for what can be a very challenging, confusing but ultimately rewarding place in the world of work. Respect and an understanding of diversity enable individuals to move on with a shared commitment to improving the wider community.

Recently I have realised that EDI work requires me to be an ‘influencer’ – not quite of the Kardashian kind, but the promotion and buy-in of a new project or good practice is often necessary. The EDI lens offers an altered perspective on things and contributes to the removal of attitudinal or environmental barriers, helping everyone to fulfil their potential. Equality work in colleges encourages confidence in individuals’ abilities; nobody is marginalised.

I am a realist, however, and appreciate the pragmatic nature of the job. EDI work can be challenging with mere ‘baby steps’ towards building and instilling confidence and resilience, chipping away at barriers whilst understanding the important concerns that affect every one of us. Impact is often slow and steady rather than sweeping, but through education, collaboration, a lot of listening and respect, it does reward me with the opportunity to support progress and work in a sector that genuinely transforms lives.

Platitudes, policies and procedures alone will not create inclusive and diverse colleges and therefore it is necessary for EDI staff across our educational institutions to continue to be at the forefront of fairness and be heard as the cheerleaders for change.…..give me an E, give me a D, give me an I!