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Disability and Neurodiversity Review - what's the plan

Elizabeth McCrum and Allan Laville

Following on from their message on Wednesday 17 February, Professor Elizabeth McCrum (Pro-Vice-Chancellor & UEB Champion for Disability) and Dr Allán Laville (Dean for Diversity and Inclusion) share further details on the review for disability, neurodiversity and chronic illness.

When we wrote to you in February, we promised to follow up with a clear plan of how we will listen to, understand and build on the lived experiences of colleagues with disability, neurodiversity and chronic illness.

Starting this month, we are launching the listening phase of our work with a view to:

Raise awareness of disability, neurodiversity and chronic illness considerations within the wider University by engaging in events. This will include showcase events as well as a live panel event.

Timeline: March – June 2021

Explore the lived working experience of disabled, neurodiverse and colleagues with a chronic illness via listening exercises. The listening exercises here will include focus groups with both academic staff and professional services staff.

Timeline: April – May 2021

Create recommendations to improve the lived working experience of disabled, neurodiverse and colleagues with a chronic illness. The recommendations will be based on data from the focus groups, the live panel event and stakeholder meetings.

Timeline: June – September 2021 

Support the Disability and Neurodiversity Action Plan Group with their strategic priorities by providing insights into future directions. This work will also contribute to our work on the Disability Confident Scheme over the coming months and years.

To tie all of the above stages together, the review will focus on the following three key themes:

  1. Representation in the workforce: recruitment, retention, and representation across all levels of the organisation.
  2. Staff experience and advancement: progression, reward and recognition of staff, training, personal development and allyship, and reporting and responding to ableism.
  3. Culture: communication, culture of equality, and sense of belonging.

We will be leading on the review, with members of our University community contributing to the review team. The review team includes the Co-Chairs of the Staff Disability Network, Ranjita Dhital and Yota Dimitriadi, D&I Advisors, Hatty Taylor and Nozomi Tolworthy, Assistant Director of HR, Susan Thornton, Santosh Sinha (MCE), Lisa Davies (PSO), Rachel Helsby and Sinead O’Flynn (VCO).

We are all keen to hear from as many of our colleagues as possible, so please look out for opportunities to share your experience or email us at diversity@reading.ac.uk.

As Ranjita and Yota say, "Listening to the voices of the colleagues who are disabled, neurodiverse and long-term ill is an important step towards create a more inclusive working culture. This will not only benefit disabled members of staff but positively impact the University as a whole. Please engage with the listening exercise activities planned for this year, both as a disabled member of staff and an ally".

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