University of Nottingham’s principles to embed diversity in career services
Pauline Maden from the Careers and Employability Service, University of Nottingham, explains their guiding principles to embedding targeted approaches to diversity.
1. An evidence based approach to understanding EDI challenges
Commissioning an annual equality, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) benchmark report has empowered colleagues to have conversations about how Black heritage students are interacting with the Careers and Employability Service and improved our understanding of the needs of Black students studying at the University of Nottingham.
The report has identified:
- A baseline position
- Successes: where available evidence indicates that careers service interaction is adding value to the student journey of Black students
- Opportunities for improvement: where available evidence indicates that opportunities may exist for improvement, or where increased focus may be beneficial
- Knowledge gaps: where further learning and understanding is required
2. Being explicit about where value is added to the careers of Black students
Key learnings from the report specific to University of Nottingham students have included evidence of careers engagement adding value:
- Attending at least one careers appointment increases the Graduate Outcomes scores for Black graduates when compared with their Black peers who did not attend any careers appointments.
- Attending at least one careers appointment increases the percentage of Black graduates who feel that they are ‘on track’ with their careers when compared with their Black peers who did not attend any careers appointments.
Whilst it is good news that we can demonstrate the impact of our work, it is noteworthy that there are differences between subject disciplines, which warrant further understanding.
3. A commitment through action to uphold and follow approaches that foster EDI across all areas of work
Being able to identify, through quantitative evidence, where we add value to the student journey and where there are opportunities for improvement has enabled us to focus and commit through action.
The Services’ EDI Group prioritised outputs, which we felt would be most beneficial to support the careers of students with protected characteristics. These included:
- Guidance and resources to enhance staff knowledge
- Sharing best practice and learning across all Service functions
- Engaging stakeholders and networks, particularly employer collaboration and business development
- Harnessing data and the student voice
4. Promoting organisational diversity through employer collaboration
In Autumn 2020 we launched ‘Belonging in the Workplace’ – employer-led events aimed at reducing barriers for underrepresented groups. They focused on providing insights into the recruitment process and support to help students feel confident about moving into the world of work.
Through a range of workshops, we asked employers to focus on skills or areas of the recruitment process that students find challenging and to offer advice and strategies to overcome them.
We target student using Students’ Union networks and societies including the African-Caribbean Society and deliver sessions that actively encouraged employer partners to be explicit about the importance of diversity in their organisation.
The feedback we have received indicates positive outcomes:
- 82% of respondents felt comfortable asking questions to the employers in their session
- 91% of respondents said they would recommend these events to a friend
- 100% of respondents said they felt encouraged to attend an event due to its aim to reduce barriers for underrepresented groups
5. Prioritising the student voice to ensure that events are relevant and responsive to the issues of Black students
Our Get Connected BME events are an opportunity to network with alumni and employer partners from a variety of sectors all of whom identify as being a member of the BAME community.
Students have the opportunity to ask our speakers questions about things they wish they’d known when they were students, hints and tips about the recruitment process and how to make a successful transition to the world of work.
“Get Connected BME was the first time that I was able to speak face-to-face with alumni who looked like me, shared my experiences and could wholeheartedly understand what it’s like to be a BME student, about to be a young graduate and enter the workforce. The style of the event was very informal and intimate – it was the perfect setting to have an open, honest and candid conversation about life at UoN and beyond. There are specific things that BME students face that we’d prefer to speak to with someone who’s been through it. With Get Connected, The University of Nottingham recognised that and created a space for these unique aspects of our academic and personal lives to be discussed.” Jared Spencer, UoN’s Students’ Union BME Officer 2020/21
While we recognise there is more work to do, we have found an approach that has allowed us to make inroads in embedding this crucial work in all areas of our service delivery, whilst ensuring that we provide targeted activities for Black students in a way that they want and value.
Please get in touch if you are interested in any aspects of our approach at Pauline.Maden@nottingham.ac.uk
Read ISE’s Black Careers Matter report
Read more case studies, data and advice on Black Careers Matter