The University is consulting with members of staff and trades unions on the “University’s Strategy for Diversity and Inclusion” document. The IWGB has given its formal response to the draft document, highlighting the fact that the policy has not been extended to include outsourced workers, who make up a large number of the workforce at the University. We have provided some suggested amendments to the draft document. Please see the response sent to Kim Frost below.

Dear Kim,

I am writing to give IWGB’s formal response to the recent consultation on the University’s Strategy for Diversity and Inclusion draft document.

Whilst IWGB is delighted to see that the University intends to extend its commitment to equality and diversity beyond the minimum requirements of the law, we note with great disappointment that outsourced staff of the University, of whom there are several hundred working alongside us under different employers and with a variety of needs, are not mentioned. The document therefore needs to be revised to take account of these workers by name and to formulate key objectives that focus specifically on ensuring that they are clearly and actively covered by the strategy.

In particular I would like to draw your attention to the language of section 3 of the draft document, ‘The purpose of this strategy’ and section 4, ‘Our commitment to diversity and inclusion’, which omits to mention these colleagues as a named group and therefore implies that they are still not considered to be stakeholders here:
“The audience for this Strategy is all University stakeholders as the embedding of this commitment will benefit students, Alumni, staff, visitors and Trustees. Its objectives are tailored to address the needs, expectations and aspirations of these different groups”
“In this context, we welcome our duties under the Equality Act 2010 as part of our proud tradition of commitment to ensuring equality of opportunity for all, including our current, past and potential staff, students, external business partners and academic stakeholders, and the general public in London and beyond.” (Highlighting mine.)

I accept that this is possibly an issue with semantics only, and that the University may have intended that outsourced workers would fall under one of the groups highlighted here. If that is the case the document is unclear and should be amended to clarify this point. In stating this clearly the University would demonstrate consideration of and respect for these groups, who make a key contribution to the University on a daily basis and should therefore be mentioned by name.

I would also strongly suggest that Section 5, ‘Our key ‘One University’ diversity and inclusion objectives’, be extended to contain a ninth point, and amended in points 7 and 8. Again, it is striking that none of the objectives in the draft makes any mention of the University’s responsibility to its outsourced staff. By implication they are therefore not part of the ‘One University’ that this strategy seeks to promote. This is deeply disappointing. The closest the document comes to mentioning its outsourced staff is to say,
“We expect everyone who works for and with us to act in accordance with our commitment to diversity and inclusion and work with us to further these commitments.”

This is not sufficient. In simply saying ‘We expect … to act … and work with us’ the document appears to place the onus for ensuring that the University’s commitment is upheld very firmly onto its contractors and away from the University itself. As you know, IWGB firmly believes that the University can and should play an active role in taking responsibility for what occurs on its premises and in its name. I therefore suggest that the final few objectives and the closing sentence should read (amends in bold):
7. Embed our commitment to diversity and inclusion into all our central services and services provided by our contractors and subcontractors
8. Ensure systematic consideration of equality and diversity in our planning, in our purchasing and subcontracting decisions, and compliance with our duties under the Equality Act (2010)
9. Require contractors and subcontractors to uphold these principles, and take practical steps to ensure that they do so.
We expect everyone who works for and with us to act in accordance with our commitment to diversity and inclusion and will actively work with them to further these commitments.

I look forward to seeing a revised document which takes account of these points in due course.

Kind regards

Catherine Morrissey
Secretary, University of London IWGB