David Kalanzi (left), the recently elected black and minority ethnic (BME) officer for the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain’s University of London (UoL) branch, says he excited to take on the role, the first of its kind for the union. Below, he explains why he volunteered for a position that sends a fundamental message.

“I have a passion for being the voice of the underrepresented, so volunteering in this role feels natural to me.

Over the past seven and half years at the university, I have met people of all races, backgrounds and levels of seniority who acknowledge that things must change for black and minority ethnic staff at UoL. They all agree that UoL must become better at recognising, nurturing and appealing to BME talent.

We appreciate that UoL has recently taken bold steps towards improving race relations [by initiating a Race Equality Group]. Staff are excited about these steps and are optimistic that positive results will flow from them. Yet, on the other side, it must be conceded that for a real difference to come about, hard work needs to be put in.

The scarcely perceptible cues and assumptions that make some people feel undervalued or ignored. The apparent bias that we see with BME staff being disproportionately underrepresented in higher managerial positions and on promotion lists and reporting lower job satisfaction. The general reluctance to talk boldly or inquire about race – all these need to be addressed.

I am amazed at the incredible work that all of you are already doing as advocates for equality, inclusion and fairness in the workplace. I’m really excited to jump in and start learning the ropes – especially engaging and encouraging stakeholders to keep this discussion alive until we get tangible actions.

I am genuinely looking forward to working with all of you on these causes. Please feel free to contact me at  David.Kalanzi@london.ac.uk and please do let me know if you are interested in finding out more about the university’s new Race Equality Group  [launching at Senate House on 24 October].”