Race Equality Task Force

Background

Oxford University is unequivocal in its opposition to racism and discrimination, and we are committed to addressing systemic racism within our own community.

The collegiate University already carries out a wide range of activities to tackle racism, many of which are outlined in its comprehensive action plan, developed for its application to the Race Equality Charter in 2018.  Staff and students across the University have since responded to the increased focus on these issues in 2020 to take a range of further actions. 

The Race Equality Task Force was announced in the Vice-Chancellor’s Oration in October 2020 as part of a commitment to accelerating action in this area. At the Oration, Professor Louise Richardson spoke of a new:

University wide task force convened to engage, to listen, to share ideas and together to make recommendations for ways that we can address the under-representation of racial minorities at all levels – especially the most senior levels – within the university.

Purpose

The purpose of the Task Force is to advance racial equality across the collegiate University of Oxford, and to ensure that all people and perspectives are valued and that, in practice, opportunities are open to all people without racial discrimination.  We will work actively to be antiracist at all levels, to articulate existing barriers, and to identify what can be done by everyone in the collegiate University, especially its leaders, to dismantle those barriers. We will focus on the curriculum and student experience; recruitment and career progression for staff; the promotion of an inclusive and supportive institutional culture; and ensuring our actions are grounded in and guided by the latest research.  The Task Force will develop a University-wide strategy and business plan to identify the specific steps and practices which are needed to accelerate change and promote racial equality across the collegiate University of Oxford, and will recommend a sustainable and resourced plan for adoption by Council.

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  1. To understand and address racial inequalities among staff to ensure that all staff have a work environment that is fair, supportive and promotes a sense of belonging.
  2. To understand and address identified barriers for students of colour to ensure that all students have an educational experience that draws on the contributions of diverse societies and cultures, and a supportive environment that promotes a sense of belonging.
  3. To ensure the governance and structures, formal and informal that exist to support equality in the University are fit for purpose and effective in their mission. 
  4. To ensure that the University as a centre for research is informed by and informs latest research.

The Task Force will review existing activities across the divisions, GLAM, central university and colleges, and student groups which advance racial equality, and consider how actions which work might be shared and adopted more widely across the University.

We will provide an opportunity for staff and students, and leaders, across the collegiate University to reflect on their own experiences, identify priority issues and contribute to the shaping of key actions; and we will seek the perspectives of people from outside the institution who feel themselves excluded from it.

We will review and draw upon qualitative and quantitative data, and review good practice in other Universities and in other sectors, including our local community and internationally, to enable us to compare our current practices with best practice, and to ‘map gaps’.

We will have access to expert external consultancy expertise.

We will build on the University’s Race Equality Charter (REC) Action Plan to create a clear programme of measurable actions to accelerate the University’s race equality efforts and contribute to the next REC application.

The Task Force reports to Council and will be co-chaired by Dr Rebecca Surender, Advocate for Equality and Diversity, Professor Anne Trefethen, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, People and GLAM and Professor Martin Williams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Education. Reporting to the Chairs, the Programme Manager, Daisy Hung, will be responsible for the development and coordination of the Task Force activities.

Members of the Task Force are drawn from across the collegiate University and all divisions, and include students, academic and professional services staff at various stages in their careers. People who have been racialised as Black are strongly represented on the Task Force, and people of colour from a wide range of backgrounds are included.

The Task Force will include membership from the Equality and Diversity Panel (EDP) to ensure a two-way flow of information during the self-assessment process for the University’s REC renewal. The EDP will advise the Task Force on areas where actions should be considered as it reviews the range of quantitative and qualitative data required for the REC.

See our full list of members