Annual Report of the Equality & Diversity Committee 2019/20

Public Sector Equality Duty
Introduction
Equality & diversity objectives
Headlines and progress from 2019/20
40 years of women at Christ Church
Horizons and Aim for Oxford
BAME Law Scholarship
Partnership with Challenge Consultancy
Equality & Diversity training for new students
Cathedral activities
Staff Development
Raising awareness
Key priorities for 2020/21
Support for staff and students
Gender pay gap

Public Sector Equality Duty

Under the Equality Act 2010:

  • The Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) is a duty requiring public bodies and others carrying out public functions to have due regard to:
  • eliminating unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct prohibited by the Equality Act 2010;
  • advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic [1] and people who do not share it; and
  • foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
  • Set themselves at least one equality objective every four years, ensuring that those objectives are specific and measurable.
  • Publish annual information to demonstrate their compliance with the General Equality Duty.

This report provides a review of Christ Church’s activities in support of equality and diversity during the academic year 2019/20 and provides an update on progress towards its existing equality objectives in addition to key priorities for 2020/21.

 

Introduction

The Equality & Diversity Working Group was formed in 2017 and became a committee reporting directly to the Governing Body of Christ Church in Trinity Term 2018. The Committee meets termly, and its membership is drawn from all constituencies of Christ Church, including staff (academic and non-academic representing the College and Cathedral) and students. It has established a regular cycle for monitoring equalities data and acts as a contact point for equality and diversity issues across the joint foundation of the College and Cathedral. The Committee’s remit includes socio-economic background and mental health in addition to the characteristics protected under the Equality Act (2010).

 

The committee considers the impact its work has on its communities and pays due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation, advance equality of opportunity, and foster good relations between those who share a protected characteristic and those who do not. 

 

Christ Church wishes to create a culture of acceptance, inclusion and belonging, where individual differences are celebrated.

 

Equality & diversity objectives

Christ Church’s equality and diversity objective for the period 2019/20:

  • To foster good relations between members of the College, including staff, who share a protected characteristic (as defined by the Equality Act 2010) and those who do not share it. (1) To have at least one event a year that promotes inclusivity on the basis of a protected characteristic, in consultation with the relevant group(s), and to assess its effectiveness in consultation with the relevant group(s). The Committee noted the need for the objective to be both specific and measurable and to ensure that best practice is adopted for considering the efficacy of the event(s) held. In line with the objective, consultation with the relevant group(s) regarding both the nature of events and methods of evaluation would be paramount.

 

During Hilary Term 2020, Christ Church successfully hosted a Women’s Careers and Networking Event with sixty attendees at a panel session, drinks and dinner. In Trinity Term, a successful Women in PPE day was held. During October 2020, Christ Church also ran a series of events and talks in celebration of Black History month. A calendar of events is enclosed. During summer 2020, Christ Church partnered with Challenge Consultancy for a series of listening events about race. Evaluations were taken from participants and a detailed report was received from Challenge. In Michaelmas Term, two Diwali dinners were held. Because they took place during lockdown, the celebrations could not involve singing and dancing, but lights and special signage celebrated the festival and made it more widely known across the student community.

 

Owing to the pandemic, some events have been postponed and Christ Church looks forward to a series of rescheduled events and initiatives over the coming academic year, 2020/21.

 

Further equality and diversity objectives:

  • Improve the recruitment and retention of BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) staff, including senior roles;
  • To continue to improve Christ Church’s provision for the support of students from modest backgrounds;
  • To develop and further Christ Church’s access initiatives.

 

In accordance with current equality legislation, Christ Church publishes monitoring data on college staff and students.  These documents can be obtained here.

 

Headlines and progress from 2019/20

40 years of women at Christ Church

On 3rd March 2020, Christ Church kicked off its 40 Years of Women celebrations with a Women’s Careers and Networking Event attended by both alumni and students of Christ Church. Four former Housewomen, Dr Victoria McCloud, Helen Dorey, Stella Schuck and Jennifer Jones, returned to Christ Church for a panel discussion and to share their experiences of their respective sectors and their thoughts on topics ranging from the #MeToo movement to how to find a good mentor. Throughout the evening panellists, alumnae and students had the opportunity to network and share their experiences of Christ Church. Helen Pike, the first woman to become Master of Magdalen College School, Oxford, brought the evening to a close with an inspirational speech in which she encouraged students and alumnae to seize every opportunity.

 

Horizons and Aim for Oxford

Christ Church’s two sustained contact programmes in its link regions are designed to support pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and groups that are under-represented at Oxford. Horizons is a programme of sustained contact and academic enrichment offered to pupils in Years 10, 12 and 13 from target state schools and colleges. To be admitted on the programme students need to fulfil at least one criterion of disadvantage or under-representation. In the first year of the Horizons programme, 25 of the 35 participants went on to apply to Oxford or Cambridge and 10 gained places. In 2019/20 there were 8 Oxbridge offers, 1 of which was at Christ Church. Aim for Oxford is a new programme, run in collaboration with St Anne’s College. The first cohort of Aim for Oxford students will be applying 2020/21. Statistics for this new programme are not yet available.

 

BAME Law Scholarship

In July 2020, Christ Church announced details of a new scholarship for UK Black, Asian and ethnic minority doctoral candidates in Law, in collaboration with the University of Oxford’s Faculty of Law. This scholarship will provide full home fees and maintenance for three years, and will be available to D.Phil. candidates from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds starting their degrees at Christ Church in October 2021. Information can be found here: https://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/news/admissions/new-bame-law-scholarship-announced-christ-church-oxford

 

Partnership with Challenge Consultancy

During the summer of 2020, Christ Church partnered with equality, diversity, and inclusion consultants Challenge, to give staff members and students the opportunity to talk about race. Challenge hosted independently chaired virtual Listening and Learning sessions during July and August 2020 in conjunction with an anonymised online questionnaire. The virtual sessions provided a non-judgemental space where all groups within the College community could: speak openly about race and racism, share experiences, and explore new ideas and propose solutions for positive change. The challenge report explored the racial climate at Christ Church from both a student and staff perspective and identified challenges Christ Church faces. Attendance was not as high as hoped for, but despite the relatively low participation figures, there was a huge richness in the responses to the questionnaire and during the online sessions. Areas were identified where Christ Church could introduce new measures or develop its existing approach in order to affect positive change. Senior leaders will take forward implementing a race action plan that can support Christ Church to make a real change.

 

Equality & Diversity training for new students

Since October 2018, new students at Christ Church have attended a compulsory Equality & Diversity training session during Freshers’ Week. In 2020, students attended sessions run by Challenge Consultancy which covered the following material:

  • Understand how Christ Church’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion applies to them and the Christ Church community
  • Be more familiar with the concepts of institutional racism and other forms of discrimination
  • Be more confident about their role in contributing to a positive College environment including allyship
  • Recognise the importance of language Understand the support procedures in place at Christ Church

 

98% of students stated in feedback that they enjoyed the sessions. 90% stated that they felt more confident about the College’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion following the sessions. 96% stated that they felt more confident about the concepts of institutional racism and other forms of discrimination. 97% stated that they felt more confident about their role in contributing to a positive College environment including allyship.

 

Cathedral activities

  • A new monthly services in collaboration with the College and Cathedral was established, called ‘Sacred,’ particularly aimed at LGBTQ+ people and allies. The began in February 2020 and ran online from March – July, and in now held at the Cathedral and via Livestream.
  • In February 2020 the Chaplaincy held a seminar with Katharine Welby (daughter of the Archbishop of Canterbury) on living with long-term mental health issues.

 

Student support

Student grants

An electronic equipment grant has been approved for the 2020/21 academic year for undergraduates with a household income of up to £66k. The use of travel and research grants for postgraduates has been extended to allow students to use up to £100 of their £1,000 p.a. allowance for electronic equipment.

 

Common Framework for Supporting Disabled Students

Christ Church is signed up to the University’s ‘Common Framework for Supporting Disabled Students’ and it works closely with the University’s Disability Advisory Service (DAS) to offer information, assistance and support to students with any disability that may impact on their academic, social or residential experience at Oxford. Students applying to study at Christ Church, are encouraged to disclose any disabilities they may have so that Christ Church can work with them to assess and support individual needs.

 

The refurbishment of Peckwater Quad 9 included the provision of an accessible WC on ground floor, automated entrance door to Killcanon entrance and a graded access route. Christ Church’s new Visitor Centre has an accessible route, automated doors on the visitor route, and induction loops at the till positions. An accessible ramp was also constructed up to the Broad walk alongside existing steps, and the Centre has accessible toilets.

The College has also instructed a Consultant to prepare an Access Audit on routes around and between the College/Cathedral curtilage buildings. This is a work in progress.

 

College website accessibility

We have been working to make our site more accessible and compliant with the UK’s new legislation (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines – WCAG 2.1) which came into effect on 23rd September 2020. latest legislation for much of this year. We have increased our compliance from approximately 52% to 89% compliant (based on issues reported by monitoring software), with more improvements being deployed this week that should take us well over the 90% compliant mark. As part of the new legislation we have published an Accessibility Statement on our website (https://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/accessibility-statement-christ-church-website), and a roadmap detailing issues we have identified and how we plan to tackle them (https://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/house/accessibility-roadmap).

In 2020, we changed the font of the website to a sans serif font (Belleza for headings and Sans Source Pro for the body text) to increase accessibility.

Harassment

Christ Church offers a confidential network of 6 Harassment Advisers from whom advice and support can be sought from at any time.

 

Staff Development

Anti-bias training

Since 2014, it has been mandatory for all custodians to complete yearly anti-bias training and this form of education has also been made available to the rest of the staff community.

  • Since 2019, all members of academic job selection panels have received implicit bias training.
  • In 2020, student-facing and welfare staff attended a ‘Students in Difficulty’ training session run by the Oxford Counselling Service.

 

Raising awareness

  • Black History month: During October 2020, Christ Church has run a month- long series of events to recognise and appreciate the contributions of BME communities to society. This has included talks from a variety of influential speakers and screening of BME films.

 

Key priorities for 2020/21

Reflecting on the progress reported in above and following on from actions undertaken in the last academic year, Christ Church has identified the following areas as its main priorities for action in the academic year 2020/21:

 

  • Continue and accelerate the work of the new Diversifying the Visual Environment Working Party to create a more racially balanced visual environment with more Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic portraiture.
  • Introduce compulsory enhanced training on topics such as cultural competency, unconscious bias, and race equality to all students in each year, undergraduate and graduate, at the start f the academic year, as well as for non-academic and academic staff. Ensuring the efficiency of such training is monitored.
  • Strengthen communications around racist and discriminatory acts in all Christ Church policies.
  • Introduce protected characteristic champions. Champions would act as an advocate for the protected characteristic in all areas of College activity, ensuring it continues to prioritise its pursuit of equality and diversity in the relevant area.

Support for staff and students

  • Students have continued access to the College on-site counsellor who is available once a week during term-time to offer support with mental health challenges. Since the service was introduced in 2018, 108 students have been seen. We have provided 1:1 counselling for a student who required a BAME therapist.
  • All staff have access to the Employee Assistance Programme, which is regularly advertised to them.

 

Gender pay gap

Christ Church’s latest gender pay gap report can be found here.

In 2017, Christ Church introduced compulsory anti-bias and consent workshops for all in-coming students and mandated that all clubs and societies were to adhere to Equality legislation.

 

 

Equality & Diversity Committee

11th November 2020

Approved by Governing Body on 2nd December 2020

 

 

[1]The protected characteristics are age; disability; gender reassignment; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex and sexual orientation. Marriage and civil partnership are also protected in respect of the first aim (to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, and victimisation), in employment only.