Athena SWAN, #NeverOK and creating an inclusive University

Posted in: #NeverOK, Bath SU, Uncategorised, University of Bath

As the University celebrates its 10-year anniversary of the Athena SWAN Gender Equality Charter, we explore its wider impact on the culture of our organization.

2019 marks 10 years since the University achieved its first institutional Athena SWAN award. The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) team are reflecting on the changes, successes and challenges that the Athena SWAN Gender Equality Charter award has brought. This month we are looking at how the #NeverOK campaign is addressing key challenges in our workplace culture with Josh Callander, Anti-Harassment Campaign Manager.

The Students’ Union (SU) and University jointly launched the #NeverOK campaign in September 2017. Initially the campaign focused on safeguarding against sexual harassment and assault on campus. With additional funding, the campaign has been expanded to address inclusivity challenges including tackling hate crime, online harassment and religious based hate crime. Staff and students at the University have really engaged with the campaign and project work continues to expand and develop into exciting new areas.

The focus that Athena SWAN has brought to ED&I and to gender based issues specifically has highlighted a number of challenges for academic Departments when preparing applications for Departmental Awards. Athena SWAN has raised awareness of the need for ED&I training and provided the opportunity for individuals to raise issues of concern around organizational culture and workplace behaviour.

The #NeverOK campaign is proving successful in creating a community that reports and challenges instances of bullying and harassment, demonstrated by the launch of the Report and Support tool and the increase of reporting this has generated. Further evidence of the impact #NeverOK and Athena SWAN has been in reflecting on what support staff and students can provide for one another.

Since launching the Bringing in the Bystander training in January 2018 and the ED&I Bystander training in November 2018, around 750 students and 250 members of staff have received an iteration of Bystander training. The bystander training explores how we can support the victims and survivors of sexual harassment and assault, from an inappropriate comment in the workplace to sexual and/or relationship violence. In re-constructing our concept of a bystander to be prosocial, or active, we can challenge problematic behaviours and support individuals or groups in our community.

Fundamentally, the #NeverOK campaign and the Athena SWAN Gender Equality Charter are both social change campaigns. They have been designed to challenge behaviours, structures and systems and support individuals or groups during this process.

Where Athena SWAN, and by extension our University and others, can start learning from the #NeverOK campaign and other such social change movements is in their intersectional approach. Intersectionality is a mode of analysis that helps to frame the multiple forms of marginalisation or oppression that an individual or group might experience. In expanding the #NeverOK campaign to hate crime we have been able to support staff and students who have been victim or witness to different forms of discrimination and hate, in addition to raising awareness of these types of incidents to our community.

Georgina Brown, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, provides oversight for both #NeverOK and Athena SWAN and has provided the below comment, which is the perfect way of encapsulating the efforts of both campaigns:

"We must remember we are ALL vehicles for change, we all have a role to play in standing up for equality and speaking out against discrimination. We must be role models for each other, highlighting what is possible and calling out blocks that prevent us all reaching our potential.” 

Posted in: #NeverOK, Bath SU, Uncategorised, University of Bath


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