Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Technical Services (EDITS)
The leadership team for Technical Services are committed to creating a working environment where all staff have the chance to fulfil their full potential. As a Function, we support a wide range of activities, spanning the whole University, and as a group of people, we come from diverse backgrounds, with diverse skillsets, interests and lives.
We are committed to ensuring equity and inclusivity for all people with protected characteristics under the Equality Act (race, disability, age, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, sex, sexual orientation, religion/belief, pregnancy and maternity), as well as unprotected characteristics (e.g., socio-economic class).
Our commitment to equity and diversity is based partly on a strong sense of fairness and a belief that people do best when they bring all of themselves to work. But it is also based on the knowledge that diverse institutions are more successful because they draw on the best from a wider range of people. It is therefore important that the culture within Technical Services is such that every member can operate in the knowledge that they are respected for who they are. This is key to fostering good physical and mental well-being.
Faces of Technical Services
Several members of Technical Services were featured in the 'Faces of Reading' campaign, which highlighted the University's commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive environment.
Mark McClemont, Senior Technician.
I have been at Reading since 1987; I started out as a Lab Technician and in the early '90s I got the opportunity to become a glassblower.
I'm the only glassblower on campus. I design, make, modify and repair scientific laboratory glassware for both teaching and research for the School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy and other University departments, as well as outside companies.
It's particularly satisfying to make a custom piece of glassware for researchers and get involved in the design process, which can involve multiple iterations to achieve a successful result.
I've got a very friendly working environment. Diversity and inclusion is something the University wholeheartedly embraces, which is great.
I'm asexual and have been involved in visibility work for AVEN (the Asexual Visibility and Education Network), of which I'm a member. This has involved TV and radio appearances and contributing to newspaper and magazine articles.
When the University was applying to become a Stonewall Diversity Champion, I went to meetings to raise awareness of the asexual community. This resulted in the Staff and RUSU LGBT Plus organisations holding an Asexual Awareness Week, to which I was happy to contribute.
Asexual people are thought to make up about 1% of the population, which means there could be somewhere between 30 and 40 asexual people working at the University, even more in the student population.
I think it's important there's visibility for asexual people, and those who think they may be asexual, in particular, to have someone to talk to who is asexual.
Paul Baker, Technical Manager.
I first joined the University in 2012 as a trainee technician in the School of Biological Sciences. Now a Senior Technician, I provide teaching support as well as indirect research support. There's a huge variety of work: prepping equipment and solutions, showing students how to use equipment and demonstrating techniques during term time, and assisting with the maintenance of research labs throughout the year.
I like the variety within the School of Biological Sciences, as well as the people I work with. If you're part of a good team - and I certainly am - it means you've got a great place to work.
One of the things I really enjoy about Reading is the flexibility. For example, over the summer months I take advantage of flexible working hours - called compressed hours - so I work from 8:00 until 6:00, four days a week during the summer, and that's something I really appreciate.
I'm also supported in continuing my professional development, and recently I received a Science Council CPD (Continuing Professional Development) Award because of my training and development achievements. I think if there's something you're interested in doing - and it's relevant to your role - you should flag it, because there's no harm in asking.
Natalie Franklin, Studio Support Technician.
I'm a studio support technician in Technical Services and I support the Institute of Education. I've been at the University since the end of 2017, and I am very proud of my achievements since then. I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and chronic pain issues and, whilst getting a job is often not a problem for me, it can be hard to remain in employment.
Prior to working at the university, I had a number of roles in retail and hospitality. I graduated from Plymouth College of Art in 2015 with a BA(Hons) in Contemporary Craft, specialising in kiln cast glass. I am still a practicing artist, something that is very much encouraged within the department. Working as a technician supporting the Institute of Education is great. I work alongside lecturers in a very collegiate way to inspire, support and guide the students with their artwork. Seeing the end exhibitions is one of my favourite part of the job- they never fail to impress me with their professional and skilled work. Despite having worked in a popular DIY chain for a few years, I have learned more practical DIY skills helping students to set up exhibitions than I did in said shop!
The facilities are great, and I’ve managed to up-skill myself in several areas such as printmaking and darkroom photography. The support I have received from my line manager and the policies surrounding disabled staff at the university have made it possible for me to stay working in a job I love- and this is now the longest I have been employed at one place! Feeling comfortable sharing medical details and knowing that I won’t be judged or penalised for my disabilities is really empowering.
I feel that working at the university has encouraged me to grow and eventually seek further education in an MA- all of which has been supported by colleagues and my manager. I’ve had the opportunity to undertake many training courses, including, but not limited to the Springboard Women’s Development Program, several programs of Teaching Skills for Technicians and many programs to support students with mental health issues or disabilities at the university. I have also achieved two types of professional registration, one with the Institute of Science and Technology (IST) and one with the Higher Education Academy (HEA). Both of these show my dedication to my role and were really good reflective tools to help me recognise my skills and were funded and supported by the university.
All my friends tell me this is the perfect job for me, and I definitely feel I am on a solid career path where I can use my degree and life experiences to help others pursue their dream career as an art teacher- and pursue a few of my own dreams at the same time!
Shared Parental Leave
SPL enables eligible parents to choose how to share the care of their child during the first year of birth or adoption. Its purpose is to give parents more flexibility in considering how to best care for and bond with their child.
My Time on Shared Parental Leave, by Wayne Knight.
"I am a senior technician in Technical Services supporting the School of Biological Sciences. I started my shared parental leave in March 2018 and was excited for some time at home and with high hopes of finding lots of activities to do. However I quickly discovered when it started that I did not know quite what to do with myself and what to do with my new daughter, Holly. For the first week I stayed at home, doing some small walks, feeling on edge and waiting for my wife to come home just to help and have someone to talk to, as a 6 month old baby does not have much to say! I spoke to a friend at work and she gives me a 5 step plan to make sure I got out and about. Soon I was going to baby sensory club and baby soft-play which give me the opportunity to talk to people who are in the same situation as myself. Despite the adjustment period, I soon settled into my new role. I did notice there were very few dads taking up shared parental leave, which seemed strange to me as it is an opportunity for fathers to spend valuable quality time with their children. I would highly recommend more dads to take advantage of SPL because the time I had off with Holly was so special to me and I will remember it for the rest of my life.
All I can say is don't knock it until you try it."
Secondment to the Disability Office
One of our Technical Managers, Kevin Flint, has completed a three-month secondment to the University's Disability Office to work on a project looking at how we can better support and facilitate staff and students with disabilities.
Athena Swan Silver Award
Technical Services has become the first professional services team in the country to gain a national charter mark for its commitment to gender equality. The team was awarded a Silver Athena Swan mark by Advance HE in March 2023 after professional services were made eligible for recognition in 2022. Achieving Silver represents a high level of engagement and progress in reducing the barriers to gender equality, including consideration, for Technical Services, of how gender equality intersects with race.
You can read more on the University website here: Silver gender equality award for Technical Services - University of Reading
Or on the Advance HE website here: First technical directorate awarded Athena Swan | Advance HE (advance-he.ac.uk)