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Vice-Chancellor's message on IDAHOBIT day

Sir David Bell


Today is the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.

Conceived as a day to draw attention to the violence and discrimination faced by LGBT people around the world, it has evolved into a worldwide celebration of sexual and gender diversities.

As a global University with over 4000 staff across three continents, diversity is an important part of our existence. However, we can and must do more to provide our staff, wherever they are, an inclusive and supportive environment.


We have made considerable progress towards a more visibly inclusive environment. The rainbow postcards, shoelaces and lanyards of our LGBT+ Allies are on display wherever you go on our Reading campus. This is a strong network of individuals committed to supporting LGBT+ students and staff.

We have also introduced a new Wolfenden Lecture to our yearly events calendar. The inaugural lecture was delivered this month by Ruth Hunt, the Chief Executive of Stonewall. Hearing Ruth share her own experiences, I was struck by how much things have changed and yet how much still needs to be done.

It is our ambition for the University to be a top 50 employer in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index by 2020. We are making steady progress towards this target, having achieved our highest ranking ever. Of the 439 institutions that put themselves forward, Reading was ranked 168.

We are no longer content to benchmark ourselves against other universities – we want to be one of the leading, inclusive organisations in the UK.

That is why we have decided to sign up to become a Stonewall Global Diversity Champion. As a Global Diversity Champion, we will have access to an impressive network of organisations with experience of supporting LGBT staff across the globe, and dedicated advice and support from Stonewall.

This is a crucial step in our journey.


We have almost 3000 University of Reading students on our campuses and study sites outside of the UK including in South Africa, China and Malaysia. We also have growing staff populations in those countries and an increasingly mobile staff travelling between our campuses. 

There are challenges in being a transnational organisation. We encounter different legal and cultural environments in some of the countries to which our staff and students travel, and in which the University of Reading is located today.

Such challenges are part of being a global institution, and others have been in this situation before us. Stonewall’s Global Diversity Programme works with many other organisations operating in the countries in which the University of Reading is also located today.  Their experience will help us ensure that our day-to-day policies and practices on our campuses, wherever in the world they are, can and do support LGBT+ students and staff as far as we can within the law.

We want to encourage greater international mobility of students and staff between our campuses and for our values as a University to travel with them.

Next steps

Getting this right will not be easy, but it is clear that we need to do more now across the University of Reading, at our campuses and sites overseas as well as in the UK. 

In the coming months, you will hear about the practical steps we are taking and on our work with Stonewall.

Our University is an inclusive place. At the same time, we are not afraid to challenge assumptions, attitudes and cultures in a respectful and considerate matter, as befits a global university.

Sir David Bell KCB




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