GuildHE and its members pride ourselves on our work to drive cultural, social and economic development throughout the UK. Our values are modeled on being ethical, inclusive and creative. Social justice is a key pillar of our values and a core part of our strategy and drives how we work.
Higher education is transformative for individuals, beneficial to industry, local communities and wider society but the sector’s progress on tackling racial inequalities has been slow. The Black Lives Matter Campaign has highlighted just how much further we need to go as a society to address inequalities, and acknowledge that racism is still a significant social issue in all parts of the world, including in the UK.
It is no longer acceptable for equality and diversity work to be confined only to discussions around HR and access and participation. For meaningful and lasting change to happen we must all take responsibility for being proactive in identifying barriers and prejudices and take action to create a more inclusive education environment. Many of our members have made progress already, working in collaboration with schools and our local communities, but there is always more that can be done. We are acutely aware that many of the locations of our member institutions, and the industries they serve also have systemic barriers to equality. We want our approach to have a direct and positive impact on these communities and encourage swifter and more impactful action from other stakeholders. To create a fair society we need to ensure that everyone is doing their part to challenge and change systemic barriers, including in schools and employers.
GuildHE is therefore launching a new Anti-Racism Programme for members that supports a more conscious and impactful approach to improving equality in UK HE, and provides resources, discussion groups and activity sharing across our diverse institutions. Stage one of the programme will run this year, supporting members to develop their own anti-racism strategy, provide educational opportunities on what barriers need to be overcome, and inspire all staff and students to be anti-racism champions. All of our practitioner networks will be given Allyship training and be encouraged to evaluate and develop a truly inclusive approach to their work. We will also support our institutional change champions through Action Learning Sets and bespoke support.
As part of this programme we are committed to reviewing our own internal processes and structures to ensure that we continue to live up to our values and are continually learning how we can be allies to make sustained change happen.
By approaching this work through the lens of anti-racism we are consciously realigning equality and diversity work to be more action focused, wide reaching and more impactful. We will be mindful of the complexities of the systemic barriers in regards to intersectionality and different ethnic communities, and use evidence and historical context to lead our work together with members of our higher education communities and beyond.