Embedding equality and diversity in researcher development

This good practice guide suggests ways in which we can embed principles of equality, diversity and inclusion in the personal, professional and development workshops that we offer to researchers. 

 

Background

At the University of Glasgow, we have a commitment to ensuring that our training environment is inclusive. This guide sets out expectations for any external training providers, as well as University staff organising the workshops and for those attending.

The guide is supported by the following policies and resources: 

 

What does this mean in practice?

Face-to-face workshops

Trainers should make every effort to consider the accessibility of their workshops and training to diverse audiences – this includes asking about special requirements, careful consideration of technology, timing and location of events to ensure that they are accessible and providing participants with accessibility information in advance (e.g. number of steps required to get to a room, location of toilets, etc.). 

Speakers and facilitators should make use of microphones wherever possible and should consider whether any of their activities might exclude or be particularly stressful for some individuals, offering alternatives where possible. 

Some examples of this:

  • Physical or group based activity may be challenging for some participants due to physical ability, social anxiety or cultural constraints. 
  • Multiple small group discussions in one room can sometimes be challenging for people with autism or who experience sensory overload.

Online workshops

The university has a guide to "Engaging in online communication" which includes guidance on synchronous online sessions. 

  • Ensure your sound is as clear as possible (and encourage attendees to mute themselves unless speaking). Online delivery can need more emphasis and amplification: facial expressions and gestures can help with this. 
  • If a session is being recorded, make this clear and remind attendees they can turn their camera off or hide their name if they wish.  
  • Pre-recorded video content should have captions. When live captions are available, these should be made available (we have a video on adding them to Zoom). Consider slide design for the addition of captions. 
  • Attendees’ devices and technical ability will vary. Features (e.g. on Zoom) may look different on an app or desktop versions. Keep additional apps/software to a minimum. 
  • Requiring attendees to use their cameras can be problematic for many reasons so, although this can be encouraged, it should never be essential. If attendance is being recorded, other ways to encourage and check participation should be used. 
  • Encourage participants to put their preferred name and pronouns for their Zoom profile and add a picture/avatar if they will have their camera off. 

Training content and tone 

Case studies or speakers should represent diversity, with careful attention paid to the roles they represent and are given.  For example, although your speaker line-up for leadership training may appear to display a gender balance, it is not acceptable to draw all the male speakers from technical, leadership or academic roles, with a sole female speaker from University Services or a support / admin role, as this simply reinforces a stereotype.   

It is the role of the trainer to identify, highlight and challenge lack of diversity or unconscious biases. For example, if asked to make suggestions of famous ‘creative people’, a group of participants might unconsciously suggest an all-white, all-male list.  The trainer should reflect on this with the group and support wider discussion, probing for alternative answers. 

We expect that trainers would intervene if they recognise bad practice (which might include off-hand comments, ‘banter’, unconscious sexism, cultural stereotyping etc.) and challenge / support any individuals involved in a manner that is appropriate to the situation, referring to UofG support mechanisms (HR, harassment advisers etc. as appropriate) or the guide to 'Engaging in Online Communication'. 

Language used should be inclusive and culturally sensitive. It is the trainer’s responsibility to: 

  • Vary the format of discussions (plenary, pairs or small groups) to ensure an inclusive environment where everyone has the opportunity to contribute. 
  • Set the tone of the event to encourage an inclusive environment and respectful listening and language in smaller group discussions. 

It is important to take a sensitive and supportive approach to the gender that a person self-identifies with.   Listen and politely ask how someone wishes to be referred to (e.g. pronouns).  Avoid making assumptions when pointing out the public toilets. 

The trainer has a responsibility to keep their knowledge up to date on topics relating to equality, diversity and inclusion and to be able to discuss this with participants where relevant to the topic. For example, in a discussion on teambuilding, we would expect a trainer to encourage the group to consider whether social events are accessible to people with childcare, mobility issues, who follow particular religions, etc. 

Supporting materials

  • Handouts may be required in larger print and in sans-serif fonts such as Arial (which are easier to read for people with dyslexia). 
  • The colour schemes of slides and handouts should be carefully chosen (see IOP resource on colour vision deficiency).
  • Slides should be provided one week in advance of a session.

 

AdvanceHE, the Equality Challenge Unit and Vitae have all produced materials, briefings and case studies that are relevant to the Higher Education context.  

Our list of examples is far from exhaustive and we welcome feedback and discussion on this guide from all involved in researcher development, including students, staff and external training providers.

  

Researcher Development Team (contact Kay Guccione)

10 September 2021