26th May 2021

GuildHE is an officially recognised representative body for UK Higher Education. Our members are universities, university colleges and other institutions, each with a distinctive mission and priorities. They work closely with industries and professions and include major providers in technical and professional subject areas such as art, design and media, music and the performing arts; agriculture, food and the natural environment; the built environment; education; law; health and sports. Many are global organisations engaged in significant partnerships and producing locally relevant and world-leading research.

GuildHE and its members pride ourselves on our work to drive cultural,
social and economic development throughout the UK. Our values are modelled on
being ethical, inclusive and creative. Social justice is a key pillar of our
values and a core part of our strategy and drives how we work. Higher education
is transformative for individuals, beneficial to industry, local communities
and wider society but the sector’s progress on tackling racial inequalities has
been slow. The Black Lives Matter Campaign has highlighted just how much
further we need to go as a society to address inequalities, and acknowledge
that racism is still a significant social issue in all parts of the world,
including in the UK. It is no longer acceptable for equality and diversity work
to be confined only to discussions around HR and access and participation. For
meaningful and lasting change to happen we must all take responsibility for
being proactive in identifying barriers and prejudices and take action to
create a more inclusive education environment.

Many of our members have made
progress already, working in collaboration with schools and our local
communities, but there is always more that can be done. We are acutely aware
that many of the locations of our member institutions, and the industries they
serve also have systemic barriers to equality. We want our approach to have a
direct and positive impact on these communities and encourage swifter and more
impactful action from other stakeholders. To create a fair society we need to
ensure that everyone is doing their part to challenge and change systemic
barriers, including in schools and employers.

GuildHE has developed Anti-Racism
Programme for members that supports a more conscious and impactful approach to
improving equality in UK HE, and provides resources, discussion groups and
activity sharing across our diverse institutions. Stage one supports members to
develop their own anti-racism strategy, provide educational opportunities on
what barriers need to be overcome, and inspire all staff and students to be
anti-racism champions. Stage two will connect our thinking and practice to the
industries we serve.

All of our practitioner networks will be given allyship
training and be encouraged to evaluate and develop a truly inclusive approach
to their work. As part of this programme we are committed to reviewing our own
internal processes and structures to ensure that we continue to live up to our
values and are continually learning how we can be allies to make sustained
change happen.

By approaching this work through the lens of anti-racism we are
consciously realigning equality and diversity work to be more action focused,
wide reaching and more impactful. We will be mindful of the complexities of the
systemic barriers in regards to intersectionality and different ethnic
communities, and use evidence and historical context to lead our work together
with members of our higher education communities and beyond.