City life | By Sophie Cubbin

Our journey to a more inclusive City


As part of our commitment to improve equality, diversity and inclusion for our community, City has recently applied for two externally awarded charter marks: the Race Equality Charter (REC) Bronze Award and the renewal of our Athena SWAN Bronze award.


The application processes for both required a thorough self-assessment against a range of criteria, evaluation of data and the production of a detailed action plan, demonstrating how we intend to address the gaps and challenges we face.


City has also recently submitted to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index for the first time with results and feedback expected in February 2023.

Road to Race Equity


In our application for the REC Bronze Award, City pledged commitment to the REC’s aims to improve representation, progression and success of staff and students of colour within higher education.


The Charter is a national scheme by AdvanceHE which provides a framework for institutions to identify and self-reflect on institutional and cultural barriers standing in the way of minority ethnic staff and students.


City’s application was led by a Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment team (RECSAT), chaired by Dr Jessica Nielsen-Jones Assistant Vice-President (EDI), and Philip Gilks, Chief Executive of City Students’ Union, and included staff from across the University and Students’ Union. In line with the application, the team was split into sub-groups, each focusing on core aspects such as staff, students, institutional change, communications and engagement. Staff and student lived experiences were gathered and a wide range of data was evaluated to identify the barriers faced by our staff and students of colour, as well as areas of best practice that could be replicated. These formed the basis of our thorough self-assessment and action plan.

“Submitting our Race Equality Charter application and institutional action plan is a significant milestone on our journey to racial equity at City, and to improving the staff and student experience” says Philip Gilks.


“It has been so humbling to witness the huge collective effort of everyone involved in RECSAT to progress this work and get to this point… Most of all, I have been inspired by the dedication and commitment from people at City to action. We need to be challenging ourselves as an institution to do something radical and this goes beyond the charter – it’s about delivering change and ensuring that people feel that there is a real difference in the way we work and who we are.”

The application was submitted in July 2022, and we are currently awaiting the results.


Our application for the REC mark is a core milestone on City’s Road to Race Equity, a campaign which outlines some of the progress that has been made to address racial inequality and the ongoing work that is needed to continue the journey to equity.

Continuing our commitment to gender equality


The Athena Swan Charter is a framework used to support and transform gender equality within higher education and research. It has now been five years since City received its first institutional Athena SWAN Bronze award. During this time, three of City’s Schools also received Athena SWAN awards, which is testament to the efforts of the many colleagues who worked hard to increase opportunities for female academics at all career stages.


In May 2022, City applied to renew its Institutional Bronze award under the new transformed charter. The changes to the Charter include a shift from a prescriptive approach to one of autonomy and flexibility, empowering the Self-Assessment Team to design an action plan tailored to City’s unique needs.


The five new priority areas in our renewal application are:


  • Empowering and enhancing the skills of Senior Leaders to engage inclusively and prioritise gender equality initiatives;
  • Implementing a new monitoring and accountability framework to track progress and measure success of gender equality initiatives;
  • Continually working to reduce the gender pay gap, to improve City’s gender representation and specifically to increase development opportunities for women into senior management level;
  • Collaboratively working to create an inclusive culture that promotes gender equality initiatives and celebrates diverse role models across the institution;
  • Building staff and student confidence in policies and procedures to prevent and better respond to bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment.

Stonewall Workplace Equality Index


In 2020 City became a member the Stonewall Diversity Champions programme and work has commenced on City’s first submission into the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index (WEI) to assist us in implementing LGBT+ inclusive policies and practices across the institution.


City recently submitted to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index for the first time with results and feedback expected in February 2023. The Index is the definitive benchmarking tool for employers to measure their progress on LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace. Participating employers demonstrate their work in eight areas of employment policy and practice, including LGBTQ+ support for service users (our students).


Each of the three schemes are voluntary and are part of City’s wider work to ensure its staff, students and alumni feel part of an equal, diverse and inclusive community.