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Equality Agenda report: Notice

29 January 2001

In the Michaelmas Term 1998 a proposal was made by the officers charged with the day-to-day oversight of the University's Equal Opportunities Policy that the University consider undertaking an audit of equal opportunities. This proposal received the support of the Vice-Chancellor. The objective of this audit was to build on the work already carried out prior to the University's joining the Opportunity 2000 (now Opportunity NOW) Campaign and in the course of working towards the goals developed as part of the University's strategy in seeking to improve the quality and quantity of women's participation in the workforce. The audit sought to develop a clearer view of the position and perceptions of different staff groups in the University - men, women, members of white and of ethnic minority groups, and people with disabilities - to check on the operation of existing policies and procedures and to work towards furthering a culture in which all members of staff are enabled to maximize their own development and their contribution to the University's success.

The proposal for the audit was approved by the General Board and the Council in the Easter Term 1999, including the engagement of Schneider~Ross, a leading consultancy working in this area, to conduct the audit.

The audit was conducted during the summer of 2000 and analysis of the data and drafting of the report commenced. Input to the report included:

i. A study of policy documents and staffing statistics.
ii. One-to-one interviews with individuals (stakeholders and individuals from all staff groups).
iii. Focus groups of men, women, ethnic minority staff, and staff with disabilities.
iv. A questionnaire sent to all staff which secured an above-average 40 per cent participation rate, consistent across all staff groups.

At their meeting on 29 January 2001, the Council received, for preliminary consideration, a report from Schneider~Ross setting out the findings of the audit, together with a commentary by officers in the Personnel Division on Schneider~Ross's recommendations and a draft immediate action plan. The Council approved their immediate publication and the report, commentary, and action plan are set out below. They are also available on the Personnel Division's website. The Council also agreed that the Personnel Committee should begin detailed study of the recommendations of the report and the proposed action plan drawn up in response and report back to the Council in due course.

While evidence has emerged of the experiences of staff in areas including appointment, working practices, promotion, and career development which indicates that there are issues which need to be addressed, the findings of the report are encouraging in a number of ways:

i. There is an overall recognition of the University as a desirable place to work, a place where relationships with colleagues are positive and productive. A majority of responses indicate a sense of pride in the standing and achievements of Cambridge.
ii. The findings reveal an institution which has some way to go, but in which there is already a consciousness of the need to work towards ways of developing the potential of a diverse population of staff.
iii. The findings and recommendations point towards areas of policy and practice many of which are already either being actively addressed or are in the initial planning and preparation stages.

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Cambridge University Reporter, 31 January 2001
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