Friday 02-12-2016 - 08:30
Our second Black Leaders Conference takes place on Monday 5 December. This conference provides an important space for Black leaders and aspiring leaders and will bring officers and staff from across the movement together to develop their leadership skills and be inspired to fulfil their potential as change agents.
This event is an outcome of our Race Matters report on the experiences of Black staff, which emphasised again the importance of tackling all forms of racial inequality.
The report highlighted that 18 per cent of Black staff working in student unions had experienced racism and only half thought their students’ union had taken action to consider the needs of Black staff.
Over a third of Black staff surveyed believed they had not had the same career development opportunities as their White peers, and as with other sectors there are too few Black colleagues in senior positions.
Earlier this year, NUS commissioned an independent report to investigate allegations of institutional racism. We will shortly receive the findings of this review. Whatever the findings we know there is much work to do to achieve racial equality, and to continue to be at the forefront of social justice both as the national union and collectively as a movement.
Some of this work is already underway as part of the People and Talent programme within NUS 100, our strategic framework for 2016 - 2022. I am delighted we will be launching a specific strand of the People and Talent activity, the Race Matters programme of work, at the Black Leaders Conference.
This Race Matters Programme of work sets out a vision of dismantling structural racism, achieving race equality and allowing Black staff to be represented and thrive. It focuses on five areas; leadership, employer brand and inclusive recruitment, organisational culture and practice, career development opportunities for Black staff and officers, opportunities for Black students. Thank you to Mandeep Rupra-Daine and the members of the Race Matters Advisory Group from across the student movement for their work to develop this programme.
Challenging racism and tackling race inequality is, of course, everyone's responsibility and will require strong leadership and collective action across the student movement.
During Black History Month this year, NUS’ Black Staff Group produced an excellent exhibition on ‘being a White Ally’, helping to create inclusive and empowering spaces and ensuring Black colleagues get the space, voice and recognition they deserve.
It was a powerful exhibition in which Black colleagues set out what they need from White Allies in the work place. All of the comments provided important advice for Allies, three of which are set out below;
- Listen to Black staff with the understanding that their experience of the workplace will be different to your own experience
- Know that challenging racism can feel uncomfortable and that this is part of the allyship journey and shouldn't be avoided
- Acknowledge and credit the work of Black staff publicly and privately.
The student movement has long led the way in tackling inequalities and promoting social justice. This Race Matters work programme continues in that important tradition.