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Published 28 July 2020

This action plan was developed by the Senior Management Committee, informed by comments and suggestions from staff and a paper presented by Kathryn Jennings on what the University is doing to tackle racism.

Associate Head for People, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: Professor Catherine Pope

In the first instance, this plan will be reviewed by the SMC in September 2020 with feedback to the department in Michaelmas Term.

> Read suggestions from department members

> What the University is doing to tackle racism

Our Guiding principles

  • An inclusive culture is important in this Department.
  • Diversity and inclusivity brings positive value to our Department.
  • Diversity in numbers is irrelevant if difference and diversity of thought aren’t welcomed – we welcome diversity.
  • Inclusion needs to be practised in all areas of the Department.
  • We need to be prepared to change.
  • We are accountable and understand the impact of decisions we make.
  • It is not the job of disadvantaged groups to fix the problems created by oppression or discrimination.  We will listen and learn from ethnic minority staff, students, and advisors, but the work of improving our policies and practices will not be led exclusively by staff from groups that have been marginalised or discriminated against.


1. Develop an NDPCHS Charter

Led by: Catherine Pope, Kamal Mahtani

We will develop a charter that reflects our aims, values and goals as an organisation, using this as an opportunity to push forward and commit to addressing diversity and the actions detailed below.

This will include consideration of: 

  • What do we as a department stand for?
  • What do we value?
  • How do we want to be represented?
  • What can people expect from us?

We will use this to commit to cultivating a culture of open discussion and honesty. We should not be afraid to make the conversation continuous, embedded and most importantly authentic – and accept that sometimes it can be uncomfortable.

2. Embed diversity in our research from idea to outputs

Led by: Richard McManus, Julia Hippisley-Cox

We need to be more aware of intersectional inequality. Our research can address healthcare inequalities.

  • Ensure diversity is well represented in project development, PPI and advisory groups, project teams, study sampling and data collection, and dissemination. improve links with ethnic minority communities to support this and make this engagement long term.
  • Question whether our research unintentionally creates inequalities.

3. Improve recruitment and retention of ethnic minority and other underrepresented groups

Led by: Richard Hobbs, Clare Wickings with the Finance, Resources and General Purpose Committee

  • Review recruitment and promotion policies to improve representation in senior roles. This will include improving links with ethnic minority communities and undertaking wider advertising to let them know about job vacancies and inviting them to apply.
  • Review all practice and policy to consider how interview panels are constituted. Every interview and promotion panel to include a member with an explicit equality and diversity monitoring role.
  • Ensure there is no bias on fixed term contracts for ethnic minority staff and students. Explore how we can retain staff from groups who historically do not stay working here. 

4. Increase the diversity of Committees, including the Senior Management Committee

Led by: Committee Chairs, Julia Hippisley-Cox, Rebekah Burrows 

Recognising that some groups, especially ethnic minority staff, are not represented. We will encourage and support diversity.

  • Improve diversity in recruitment to senior roles.
  • Invite ethnic minority and other underrepresented staff to attend as an observer and to deputise for senior colleagues so they can participate in and learn about committee work. This will need to be done equitably and without positive discrimination
  • Include diversity and intersectionality as a standing agenda item for SMC meetings to keep progress under review.

5. Training and mentoring

Led by: Paul Aveyard, Kamal Mahtani

We recognise the legacy of colonialism and slavery in our University and how this has underpinned some funding for education here.  We note the underrepresentation of ethnic minority and other marginalised groups in education at this University.

We continue to support what is now the Rhodes Mandela Scholarships scheme.  The following extract describes their mission: The Mandela Rhodes Foundation is one of Nelson Mandela’s three official legacy organisations, founded in 2003 in partnership with the Rhodes Trust. Our mission is to build exceptional leadership capacity in Africa. We find, fund, and empower young Africans who aspire towards the kind of leadership Mr Mandela embodied: leaders who can bridge historic divides and who use their talents for the betterment of their societies and our continent.

  • Explore and attract funding for specific ethnic minority fellowships/DPhils.
  • Where we are involved in  under-grad admissions consider dropping interviews and selecting at random from those meeting minimum threshold criteria, enriched to reflect minority representation. 
  • Actively encourage ethnic minority staff and students to take part in mentoring and training.
  • SMC, senior staff and line managers commit to act as role-models by undertaking relevant training on diversity and anti-racist practice. This will be monitored in PDRs.

6. Improve support for ethnic minority staff and students

Led by: Dan Richards-Doran, Kathryn Jennings, Nicola Small

We will explore how to do this, in addition to: 

  • Signposting of the resources available. Repeated advertisement of who the harassment advisors are.
  • Consider and address risks of COVID for ethnic minority staff and students (e.g. in return to work decisions).
  • Provide opportunities for dialogue on bullying/harassment and racism.
  • Encourage everyone to speak up on these equality and inclusivity issues. Showcasing more positive examples as well as discussing more difficult issues.

7. Monitoring

Led by: Richard Hobbs, Nicola Small

SMC will obtain and review data summarising our progress (including the department, University and MSD) on numbers of staff, senior staff and students from ethnic minority and underrepresented groups.

8. Mind our language

Led by: All

Many people have successfully learnt how to pronounce Tchaikovsky.  Let’s work on improving how we talk with each other. We will not make assumptions about how unfamiliar names are pronounced, we will ask individuals to say their name.