At Essex we have a strong commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), and we remain committed to promoting a culture of belonging as well as fostering a community that is inclusive of a range of difference voices, views and ideas within the law. We are pleased to publish our EDI Annual report for 2022-23. The report sets out our commitment to EDI and also provides an update against our five equality objectives set out below.

Our equality objectives are:

  • To continue to monitor, analyse, and publish information on gender and ethnicity pay gaps, as a basis for adjustments to policy and practice to close any gaps.
  • To ensure equality and diversity in relation to student outcomes and measures of student success.
  • To benchmark our inclusive environment against internal and external recognition frameworks including Vitae, Advance HE, Stonewall, University of Sanctuary, Athena SWAN, Race Equality Charter and Mental Health Charter.
  • Increase diversity of representation at all levels of the organisation so that the University better reflects the community its serves and encourages these communities to reach their potential.
  • Promote our institutional commitment to an inclusive working environment to every member of our community, so that we can create a workplace which enables our people to succeed.

It has been a positive year with much happening to advance EDI at the University. We have continued to reduce our institutional gender pay gap, with the proportion of women in grades 9 passing 50%. After much hard work, we were pleased that our first application the Race Equality Charter was successful and that we now hold a Bronze award, and we are working on delivering our REC action plan. We have successfully renewed our institutional Athena SWAN award and 15 of our academic departments now hold an Athen SWAN award including four at the Silver level.

Our People Supporting Strategy to 2028 identifies the need ‘to build a more inclusive, agile and flexible workforce’ and work is underway to expand the portfolio of policies and guidance to assist the University in better supporting neurodiverse staff and students at Essex. The Neuro-inclusion Working Group identified a range of priorities to improve neuro-inclusion in the workplace which included raising awareness within our staff community, enhancing training and guidance for individuals and managers and strengthening our current recruitment, onboarding and PDR processes. We also signed up to the Age-friendly Employer Pledge and are the first university to do so. To further support students with a disability, we established a partnership with Disabled Students UK who are a community interest research institution working to improve accessibility in Higher Education Institutions and applied for the Mental Health Charter. We continue to make good progress with our Transition and Transformation project which has seen significant engagement and participation via events and workshops including the launching of our Black Researchers Hub in January 2023. Work to close degree awarding gaps is ongoing, and between 2018/19 and 2022/23, the most significant narrowing of the gap has been between White and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students.

Other work includes preparing ourselves for our obligations under the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act 2023, implementing recommendations from consultations on creating an inclusion culture and tackling Islamophobia and the review of our ethnicity and sexual orientation categories and celebrating our diverse community through events during LGBTQ+ History Month, International Women’s Day and Black History Month (to name a few).

There is much more to share and we invite you to read the report (.pdf).