Race Matters - it’s time to talk about race.

Monday 19-01-2015 - 09:09

Today, we’ve published our first ever report on the experiences of Black staff across the student movement. It’s time to talk about race.

Our movement is rightfully proud for its commitment to equality, diversity and liberation. But our report shows that we can be doing so much more.

We want Race Matters to be a catalyst for change across our movement, helping students’ unions to be a beacon for progressive values and race equality across all of society.However, year after year, our Diversity Surveys show the shocking lack of ethnic diversity across our movement’s staff. Race Matters has gone on to find that:

  • 18 per cent of Black staff have experienced racism at their union.
  • Only half of respondents thought their union had taken action to consider the needs of Black staff
  • No respondents could cite a single example of good practice around race equality focussed on staff at their union

Clearly we have work to do. That work starts now.


'As there are so few Black staff, it can be seen as if their union does not appreciate equality, as it is not reflected in the workforce.”

What NUS is doing

Improving diversity of student officers

Improving the ethnic diversity of students’ union staff begins with improving the ethnic diversity of student officers.We’re providing that support.

I Will Lead The Way matches Black students with Black mentors to give bespoke support on running for officer positions. We do this to strengthen and diversify representation. Visit the dedicated hub to find out more about the scheme and share it across your networks.

Creating new networks

We need to work together to create race equality, and so we’ve set up a Race Matters practitioners network for those who work to address the findings in today’s report.

We’ve also established a Black leaders’ network for all Black staff, which will provide an opportunity for Black staff to build their network and offer information and guidance on career development, including an annual conference.

It’s one thing to highlight the problems. But it’s more important to share the good practice which leads to solutions. Over the months ahead, our new networks and resources will make it easier than ever for our movement to improve its equality and diversity credentials.


What you can do

Dealing with race equality sounds like a big job, and it is. But there are loads of steps you can take today to make positive change right now. We’re all responsible for this – it’s not just for the HR department, or the equality and diversity officers.

You can promote race equality in your students’ union through actions like:

  • Sharing the findings of the report with all your union staff and officers
  • Reviewing your recruitment policy, and employing positive action 
  • Carrying out an Equality Impact Assessment on your unions policies and activities.
  • Investing in and supporting the progression of Black staff into leadership roles. 
  • Ensuring you have an active equality and diversity strategy
  • Training all staff on identifying racism, and how to report itUndertaking targeted work to increase the number of Black students running for officer positions

The full report contains many more recommendations for you to implement at your students’ union. Please read the report and think about what you could do to improve equality and diversity among your staff.

Stronger students’ unions

A more diverse students’ union is a stronger students’ union. Not only does it reinforce the values we build ourselves on, it ensures we represent our membership properly.

Race Matters is about making sure that’s exactly what we achieve in the months and years ahead.

There’s a lot of diversity across seven million students. We need to make sure we reflect that diversity across our movement, and it’s up to all of us to make that happen.

It starts with talking about this report. You can listen to the Race Matters webinar from 29 January to hear all the headline findings and recommendations, and take the first step towards race equality at your union.

Equality matters. Diversity matters. #RaceMatters.

For more information, contact NUS Equality & Diversity Consultant Mandeep Rupra-Daine.


Black, Union Development

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