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Race Matters: the time for talking is done: time for action

Tuesday 09-02-2016 - 11:13

In 2015, NUS published a seminal report, Race Matters, about race, race equality and the experiences of Black staff in the student movement. Race Matters has put race on the student movement agenda. Three weeks ago almost fifty Chief Executives got together at Bristol SU, and Jacqui Clements, CEO, Warwick SU ran two workshops about the diversity of the workforce and the under-representation of Black staff. Everyone, it seems is ready to talk about it.

There was consensus that the underrepresentation of Black staff must be addressed, and that we need Black staff working at all levels in students' unions to ensure we properly represent the diversity of students within our institutions and wider society. The evidence shows that a diverse workforce is beneficial on performance - whatever it is we are seeking to perform better in - and the same is true in the student movement.

This Race Matters Summit, the first of its kind in NUS history, is our collective call to action – there is a need to deliver real change to not only improve the diversity of the workforce across the UK, but also significantly improve the experiences of Black colleagues working in the student movement. And we need this change fast.

I want to see us making fast progress, and I will only be satisfied when we see evidence of Black colleagues better represented and having improved employee experiences within the movement. There is broad consensus this is important and a priority.

Strong visible senior leadership is vital if we are going to make progress. That is why this Summit at the University of West London (whose leaders Kat Stark (CEO) and Ben Whitakker (Deputy Chief Executive) have written about what we can do to promote race equality in students' unions on Change SU) must be a priority for all senior leaders on Thursday 3 March.

I want chief executives, senior managers, equality and diversity leads, external trustees, presidents and Black staff and officers to take part in this important event. By attending you will be with a network of senior leaders from students' unions who are all committed to turning words into action, ideas into practice. You will learn and be inspired by leading organisations on race in the workplace such as the BITC Race Equality Campaign, Runnymede Trust, the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion, as well as Ernst and Young.

This Summit is a brilliant opportunity to share practical ideas and strategies for improvement to immediately take back to your own students' union; and you will be helping ensure Project100, has the right goals and actions relating to People, talent and diversity so NUS provides leadership to achieve this shared aim of improving representation of Black staff across all levels in the movement.

Thursday 3 March is going to rock. It is a great agenda. The time for action is now. We all want to walk the talk and ensure our movement continues to gain strength and make an impact with a strong, diverse and thriving workforce.

Join us on at the Race Matters Summit to make sure it happens. Book here.

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