SHW staff culture survey results

Published: 23 March 2023

SHW Athena Swan champion Breda Cullen reflects on the results of the most recent survey of SHW staff, in which we were invited to rate and comment on the environment and culture in which we work

SHW Athena Swan champion Breda Cullen reflects on the results of the most recent survey of SHW staff, in which we were invited to rate and comment on the environment and culture in which we work. 

Photo of laptop, diary, pencils, flowers and diary

The biennial culture survey was conducted in November 2022. The overall response rate was 49% (189/386), with a higher rate among professional services (PS) staff (55%) than academic staff (46%). Overall, a higher percentage of women responded (53%) than men (31%). Responses were received from 49% of female and 35% of male academic staff, and from 61% of female and 19% of male PS staff.

The table below shows the results for all staff for the seven core questions that we must report on for our Athena Swan renewal. The results below endorse SHW support for gender equality, flexible working opportunities, and career development. There was also agreement that contributions are valued and that mental health and wellbeing are supported. Fewer respondents agreed that bullying and harassment are addressed satisfactorily, and that SHW has taken action to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. However, a large proportion responded "neither agree nor disagree" to those questions, rather than disagreeing, which may reflect lack of direct experience of these issues.

Core culture survey item results: agree or strongly agree

My contributions are valued within SHW  72% 65%   69%  
SHW leadership actively supports gender equality  73%  83%  76%  
SHW enables flexible working  94%  88%   91%  
I am satisfied with how bullying and harassment are addressed in SHW  54%  63%   53%  
My line manager supports my career development  84%  80%   83%  
My mental health and wellbeing are supported in SHW  67%  56%   62%  
SHW has taken action to mitigate the adverse gendered impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on staff  37%  48%   38%  

*"All" includes 14 respondents of another gender or who did not report their gender

Key points from the rest of the survey questions are summarised below:

  • Overall, 82% of respondents agreed that SHW is a great place to work for them, with a higher percentage (87%) of PS than academic staff (79%) answering this way. Agreement was lower among men (overall 75%; PS 83%; academic 74%). However, a lower proportion of women (72%) than men (78%) agreed they felt part of SHW. Three-quarters agreed that the SHW leadership team communicates effectively regarding equality, diversity and inclusion policies and issues, but a lower proportion (48%) agreed that SHW’s role models represent a diverse range of gender identities.
  • 94% agreed that their line manager enables flexible working, and all of the 29 individuals who had applied for a formal flexible working arrangement had had this fully approved. A large proportion (83%) agreed that SHW respects core hours of 10am-4pm for meetings or offers flexible alternatives. Relatively fewer academic (49%) than PS staff (71%) agreed that SHW takes into consideration older workers’ specific needs. There was generally high agreement that work-related social activities are appropriate and welcoming regardless of gender (70%), job family (70%) or caring responsibilities (65%).
  • Women were less likely to agree that all genders are paid equitably (48% overall; 48% academic; 48% PS) than men (68% overall; 62% academic; 100% PS). Two-thirds of all respondents agreed they were encouraged to seek career development opportunities, with lower agreement among PS staff (54%) than academics (71%). Overall, 58% agreed that their annual performance and development review is helpful but this was lower for PS staff (41%).

Responses to the open-text questions were helpful in contextualising the results. We were concerned, however, to see in some of the open-text comments that a few respondents expressed views about gender and ethnicity that are not aligned with our SHW values, or indicated that they had witnessed discriminatory views being expressed by others.

We do not accept behaviour that discriminates against anyone on the basis of their personal characteristics, or that undermines our culture of inclusion. If you experience or witness any behaviour that does not align with these values, please consider whether you can use the effective bystander guidance to challenge this (if it’s safe to do so).

You can also speak in confidence to one of our staff:

We are keen to hear your views on how we can learn from the survey results to improve our culture of inclusiveness in SHW, and we look forward to seeking your views on priority actions when research and teaching staff come together for the academic away day in April 2023.

Breda Cullen 
SHW Athena Swan champion 

First published: 23 March 2023