Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

The University of Roehampton is shaped by its people who come from a diverse range of backgrounds, and who have brought a rich set of experiences and knowledge which have culminated in a truly enriching environment for students, staff and visitors. The University is committed to preserving these qualities by increasing diversity, promoting equality and aiming to create an inclusive culture and environment in which students, staff and visitors are treated fairly and can prosper irrespective of their background. The University believes that people have a right to be able to participate fully in the education, employment and development opportunities that the University has to offer. The University strives to provide an environment that is inclusive and welcoming to all and recognises that people perform better when they can be themselves.

The University is committed to upholding equality legislation in the best way practical, particularly the provisions within the Equality Act 2010. The University has policies and procedures to ensure that it abides by legislation and continues to strive for a community where all people are accepted and have opportunities to succeed.

Statement from the Chancellor

Roehampton’s friendly and open environment is enriched by its community of diverse people who work, study and visit every day. It aims to be a place where people, regardless of their background, can thrive. Mutual respect, dignity and acceptance are foundations that Roehampton seeks to sustain to ensure that it continues to be a safe, welcome, creative and dynamic place. Roehampton recognises that its wealth of diversity alone is not enough. It is only through the promotion of equality and inclusiveness of its diverse groups that all people can contribute, reach their full potential and inspire social change more broadly. Through engaging the uniqueness of all individuals and joining them in a common aim, we can create a true culture of belonging, in which all people feel valued, respected and can prosper.

The University has a governance structure for equality, diversity and inclusion. Click on the dropdowns below for the Terms of Reference for the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

The University now has a new governance structure for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). The University has a Committee (reporting to the University Executive Board) which is chaired by the Vice-Chancellor. The Committee has strategic oversight of EDI.

EDIC: Terms of Reference

The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee ('the Committee') shall discharge the (University) Executive Board's responsibilities in relation to equality and diversity matters generally and will promote equality, diversity and inclusion throughout the institution, including in relation to its own operation.

The Committee will in particular:

  1. Oversee the implementation of the University's equality, diversity and inclusion plan and objectives;
  2. Ensure appropriate policies and procedures are in place to achieve best practice and to fulfil the University's obligations in relation to ED&I, including making recommendations to the Executive Board where appropriate;
  3. Provide leadership and guidance on improving equality of opportunity and fostering good relations across the University;
  4. Monitor the implementation and effectiveness of ED&I policies and procedures against the University's equality objectives;
  5. Review at least annually the profile of Roehampton staff and students;
  6. Undertake any other functions as may be assigned to the Committee by the Executive Board;
  7. Report to the Executive Board at least annually.

The Committee shall consist of:

  • The Vice-Chancellor, who shall be Chair of the Committee;
  • The Deputy Vice-Chancellor;
  • Up to three members of the Executive Board nominated by the Vice-Chancellor;
  • The Director of Student Engagement;
  • The Head of a College;
  • The President of the Roehampton Students' Union (or their nominee);
  • Two representatives from recognised trade union branches (one from academic staff, one from support staff).

The Committee will meet twice per annum.

The Vice-Chancellor will identify a Secretary to the Committee and may invite other individuals to attend from time to time.

The University has a range of formal policies and best practice guidelines designed to support staff in all aspects of their role. Policies are reviewed routinely with engagement from staff, students, user groups including staff networks and trade unions, and are monitored by committees of Council and Senate.

The full range of staff guidance policies and procedures can be found here.

The University also has a range of Policies and Regulations including student-related policies and practices that can be found here.

Equality and Diversity Policy

The Equality and Diversity Policy sets out the University’s commitment to eliminating discrimination and promoting diversity and equality of opportunity, and increasing inclusion across all practices, policies and procedures. In setting out general provisions and principles of equality and diversity, the policy provides clear coordination of the University’s strategic objectives in relation to these principles and direction to the ongoing work undertaken across the University.

Dignity and Respect Policy

The University expects all staff, students and visitors to treat everyone within the University community with dignity and respect. The Dignity and Respect Policy sets out the University’s position on harassment, bullying, victimisation and other related prohibited conduct. It enjoins all staff and students of the University to take personal responsibility to ensure that the dignity of staff and students is respected; sets out the procedures for dealing with issues of harassment and bullying; and makes provision for staff and students to:

  • challenge all forms of harassment and bullying;
  • have their complaints dealt with quickly and effectively; and
  • have the confidence and support to bring complaints without fear of ridicule or reprisal.

Disability Policy

The University’s Disability Policy outlines the University’s commitment to ensuring that both potential and current members of staff with disabilities, and potential and current students with disabilities, are treated fairly and are not disadvantaged in comparison to others who do not have a disability.

Flexible Working 

The University recognises that flexible approach to working arrangements allow employees to retain their skills and to balance work and home-life and ensure the University benefits from attracting and retaining high calibre staff, supports effectively a diverse work force and fosters a positive environment among the community. 

Trans Non-binary and Intersex Equality: Policy and Guidance

In November 2018 the University approved its first Trans, Non-Binary and Intersex Equality Policy. This is a joint staff and student policy and it includes guidance on a range of matters that may affect Trans, Non-Binary and Intersex people.

Work/Life Practices

The University makes every effort to ensure that staff are able to create a positive work-life balance and affords a range of methods through which to achieve this balance in recognition that people have complex lives and do not stop when they arrive at work. In order to achieve this, the University has developed a range of policies to support positive work life balance including:

The University takes a zero tolerance approach to discrimination and through its guidance, policies and practices makes clear that discrimination of any type, in any form is never acceptable and is clear that action will always be taken when discrimination is reported to the University.

The Equality Act 2010 makes it clear that it is against the law to discriminate against anyone as a result of their protected characteristics, which include:

  • age
  • being transgender or proposing to undergo or are undergoing a process (or part of a process) of transition
  • being married or in a civil partnership
  • being pregnant or on maternity leave
  • having a past or present disability
  • race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
  • religion, belief or lack of religion/belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

Furthermore, you are also protected from discrimination if:

  • you’re associated with someone who has a protected characteristic, e.g. a family member or friend
  • you’ve complained about discrimination or supported someone else’s claim.

For further information on protected characteristics see the specific section.

Types of discrimination

Discrimination is generally defined as occurring in four main ways:

  1. Direct discrimination: where someone with a protected characteristic is treated less favourably than others. For example, this may be where only a certain gender are interviewed for a position as they are presumed to be the only individuals who could undertake it successfully.
  2. Indirect discrimination: where particular conditions are applied to everyone but unfairly disadvantage someone with a protected characteristic. For example, requiring all jewellery to be removed including where they are expressly religious symbols which do not impact on health and safety.
  3. Harassment: where unwanted behaviour linked to a protected characteristic violates someone’s dignity or creates an environment which may be intimating, humiliating or offensive. Harassment can include: bullying, sexual harassment, racial harassment, harassment linked to sexual orientation, religion, age, gender or politics. For example, harassment may include offensive jokes, verbal or physical threats or attacks, unwanted or derogatory comments or ridicule, displaying offensive material, abuse of power, humiliation or physical contact.
  4. Victimisation: where someone is treated unfairly because they’ve complained about discrimination or harassment. For example, victimisation may include denying a promotion because of someone has reported the responsible manager for misconduct previously.

Discrimination at work

The Equality Act 2010 and other provisions in legislation specifically extend protection from discrimination at work for all individuals. Employers are explicitly required to ensure individuals suffer no discrimination when applying for roles and in on-going employment, including in areas related to:

  • dismissal
  • employment terms and conditions
  • pay and benefits
  • promotion and transfer opportunities
  • training
  • recruitment
  • redundancy

Individuals are also protected from being treated unfairly because of:

  • trade union membership or non-membership
  • being a fixed-term or part-time worker

Action against discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 permits ‘positive action’ to be used when specifically taking action to help people with protected characteristics and may be used in circumstances where individuals are at a disadvantage, have particular needs or are under-represented in an activity or type of work. For example, this may be most commonly observed in recruiting staff with disabilities.

Reporting discrimination

Any member of staff who wishes to report discrimination in any form should in the first instance consider speaking with their line manager, or full details can be found in the University Grievance Procedures.

Adoption of IHRA working definition of Anti-Semitism

In June 2021, the University Council approved the adoption of the IHRA working definition of Anti-Semitism.

Adoption of the definition will help promote and increase our collective understanding of anti-Semitism, both within and outside of the University. For example, reference can be made to the definition during staff and student induction processes or mandatory training, as well as in materials published by University services in support of our work to foster equality, diversity and inclusion.

The IHRA definition is not intended to be legally binding. For the University, adoption also means that we can use the definition to identify anti-Semitism within the institution and to support better decision-making under relevant policies and procedures. For example, decision-makers can refer to the IHRA definition when considering whether a particular behaviour falls within the definitions of “harassment”, “bullying”, “unlawful discrimination” as defined in our Dignity and Respect Policy.

IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.

Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal
  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

The University is committed to protecting the dignity of all its students, staff and visitors and does not tolerate bullying or harassment.

The Equality Act 2010 refers to harassment as unwanted behaviour 'which violates someone's dignity or creates an intimidating, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment'. It must be noted that you do not have to previously object to something for it to be unwanted. Harassment is a form of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 and the University has an obligation as an employer for the behaviour of its employees and will take reasonable steps to challenge and prevent harassment of any form. Staff, students and visitors are encouraged to uphold the values of the university and to be respectful to others and 'reflective'. 

Harassment is unlawful if it is because of or connected to one to the ‘protected characteristics' under section 4 of the Equality Act 2010. 

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race 
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender reassignment

Unwanted behaviour could include the following:

  • Making 'jokes' or 'banter' about students or staff. For example, making sexist comments (e.g. identifying someone’s mood as being related to the menstrual cycle).
  • Making spoken or written insults, abuse or threats to students or staff including physical gestures. This includes using unnecessary and degrading references to students or staff. The use of Racist, Sexist, Transphobic, Biphobic or Homophobic behaviours will not be tolerated.
  • Facial gestures
  • Originating or circulating offensive emails or messages/comments on social media (e.g. making racist tweets or retweeting them).
  • Originating or circulating insulting or offensive images (including graffiti)
  • Spreading rumours or gossip about people including speculating about someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity, or ‘outing’ them about their sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Excluding someone from activities or social events
  • Asking unnecessary and intrusive questions