Diversity Fortnight, which runs from Monday 20 February until Tuesday 7 March, will see events held across our campuses focusing on topics including race and mental health, disability, trans awareness and human trafficking, from an interdisciplinary perspective.
Aysha Rahman, Equality and Diversity Officer and one of the event organisers, explained that the fortnight is a celebration of the diversity of staff and students at Southampton coming together as a local community that reflects our global aspirations. She hopes that the event will bring with it closer relationships and new partnerships.
“It is the first of its kind at the University and we hope that it provides a platform for a more in-depth conversation about inclusion and particularly intersectionality (overlapping social identities and discrimination against them), looking beyond our successes in gender.”
A year of success
The celebration comes one year after Professor Sir Christopher Snowden became the Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Champion for the University, and the past 12 months have seen a number of achievements and events involving different groups from our community.
In 2016, we became one of only 10 universities to achieve a silver Athena SWAN award for our work towards building a gender-equal environment. While the Athena SWAN charter previously focused on science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) subject areas, it was widened in 2015 to encompass arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), as well as professional and support staff and trans people. Work is already underway in Social, Human and Mathematical Sciences, Business, Law and Art and Humanities to prepare applications in the coming year. Sir Christopher cites this as a ‘remarkable achievement’ for the University.
Other successes over the last year include: a high-profile Black History Month event, inclusive leadership training for the University Executive Board (UEB), Council members and faculty leadership teams, and the re-launch of the LGBT staff network as Pulse.
The fortnight will open with the Showcase; a day of workshops open to all staff, students and members of the local community. Celebrations will continue over two weeks with special events across faculties and professional services, focusing on topics ranging from ‘Equality and Diversity in Law’, to ‘The Power of Deep Listening’. We will be welcoming a number of external speakers throughout Diversity Fortnight, including Finn Greig from Gendered Intelligence, a company that aims to educate and aid understanding of wider issues surrounding gender.
Finn explains that universities are working harder to create inclusive environments for trans people, with training, increased visibility on campus and facilities such as gender-neutral toilets.
“Being trans inclusive is not just about having policies. It is also about increasing the visibility of gender diverse people as staff and students as well as through curriculum and other student activities.”
Our staff share their experiences
Experts and speakers will also be taking part from within the University community, sharing their knowledge and experiences as members of staff or students.
One such staff member is Richard Cartwright, Senior Teaching Fellow at Southampton Business School. Richard’s inspirational story has seen him overcoming the effects of a life-changing incident which left him paralysed. He will be sharing his experiences and advice with an audience at the opening Showcase day on Monday 20 February.
Richard says: “I hope the people attending will take something from what is a very personal story.
“My experience will not be indicative of everyone’s, but hopefully they will be able to take some solace that success and happiness can be found after life-changing circumstances.”
Richard’s experiences of working at the University with a disability have been positive, and he is keen to share this with others. Though he expects that some of those who attend his workshop will not be affected by disability themselves, he hopes that it will help them to empathise and further understand issues surrounding disability.
“I’ve been very lucky since arriving at the University. I love my job and the University has been responsive to my needs and has supported me in applications for funding from Access to Work.”
“By the nature of campus life we are a very diverse organisation. I’m really glad to see that Sir Christopher is championing this cause and giving it such prominence at the University. I would really like to see people take stock of how lucky we are to work and study in such a vibrant place. There are few places and times in your life where you have the opportunity to do so and I hope the Diversity Fortnight brings that into the spotlight.”
To see all of the events scheduled for Diversity Fortnight, visit the Diversity website. Registration is now open and spaces are limited.