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Equality Matters

23 Awst 2007

The University’s strong commitment to supporting, developing and promoting equality and diversity has been highlighted in ‘Equality Matters’ a Western Mail insert (published 23 August).

"It is vital to the University’s success that our staff and students are able to focus on achieving their best at work - we think that a positive working culture is essential for them to do that," explains Pro Vice-Chancellor, Professor Teresa Rees. Professor Rees is a former Equal Opportunities Commissioner and received a CBE for services to equal opportunities and higher education in 2003.

She said: "We know from research in this area that it is unrealistic for employers to think that they can ignore issues of bullying and harassment and expect to retain talented and productive staff. These are serious issues and through projects like Dignity at Work we are working to eliminate them."

Dignity at Work and Study

As part of this commitment the University has signed up to the Dignity at Work Partnership. The Partnership is funded by the Department of Trade and Industry and the trade union Amicus to create a positive working environment. In addition the University has introduced its Dignity at Work and Study Policy, supported by a network of trained and enthusiastic volunteer Dignity Advisers who can offer confidential advice and support to anyone who is affected by harassment or bullying. The University community is also encouraged to create a positive environment where unacceptable behaviour is routinely challenged.

Tina Abbott a professional counsellor has also been appointed by the University to provide a new service for staff wanting to discuss concerns about work or home life.

She said: "People can discuss work-related issues, home-related issues, anything at all. It’s important that people know they don’t need to be ill to come and see me - I would rather see them earlier rather than later."

The Staff Counselling Service, an extension of the University’s Student Counselling Service is entirely voluntary and confidential. It aims to help staff resolve issues before they become a serious source of stress.

The University has also appointed Keith Lynch to administer the service. Keith is the first port of call for anyone wanting to ask about counselling and is also managing referrals from the new dignity adviser network. For further information visit: www.cardiff.ac.uk/cllng/staffcouns

The University’s Positive Working Environment Programme initiative is also part of the overall framework to promote a culture in which diversity is recognised and valued.

Equality strategy praised

The University’s work on promoting race equality is established and recognised as having many strengths. It has been positively commented upon in a study carried out by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales which looked at the University’s implementation of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act of 2000.

The study commends the University for the high-profile leadership of its Equality and Diversity agenda and for its proactive steps on equality and diversity. The report says: "It is encouraging to see a number of examples of good practice in the implementation of the Act and of the pursuit of race equality becoming organic to the way the University functions."

Working with Stonewall Cymru

Cardiff University was the first employer in Wales to join Stonewall’s ‘Diversity Champions’. Stonewall Cymru is the Wales equality group for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Liz Morgan, Director of Stonewall Cymru said: "Cardiff University is leading the way as one of our diversity champions. A diverse workplace environment is one which actively engages with its lesbian, gay and bisexual staff to create a dynamic environment where everyone can fully contribute."

Support networks

The University’s Women Professors Network; ENFYS (Welsh for RAINBOW)- the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Staff Network; the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Network and Disabled Staff Network further contribute to the University’s commitment to promoting a culture of respect for all of its staff and students.

Gethin While, ENFYS Co-Chair said: "The University has been extremely supportive in our work to launch and grow ENFYS. The network is clearly meeting a wide range of needs from a very diverse LGBT community, which itself consists of a very diverse range of professional and academic disciplines.

"The Stonewall connection has also allowed us to create strong ties with other peer networks in major Welsh public and private sector organisations - such as the Welsh Assembly Government, Cardiff City Council and TUC Wales - which have proved extremely valuable in helping us scope our role and activities."

Teaching Equality and Diversity

Cardiff University is also one of the leading academic institutions for the study of equality and diversity. The Cardiff School of Social Sciences offers an MSc in Equality and Diversity taught by staff at the forefront of research in this field. The aim of the MSc is to provide students with an opportunity to examine the range of social science issues covered by equality and diversity including equality and diversity issues in legislation, governance, the state, the public and private sectors and the voluntary sector.