The Anti-Racism & Learning Technology Community of Practice: Recruitment and Staff Development- Part 4 of 4
What could you do on an individual day- to-day basis to bring racial equality to the sector?
Teeroumanee Nadan; Tracey Madden, University of Edinburgh; Dr Monica Chavez, University of Liverpool
Having the right person at the table, with an understanding of the impact of racism and Equality, Diversity & Inclusion issues, will ensure that uncomfortable questions are addressed at an early stage in the recruitment process and development of staff.
The Recruitment & Staff Development subgroup from the Anti-racism & Learning Technology Community of Practice (AR<CoP) believes that it is important to disrupt the current procedures in place, and to ensure that we can action diversity rather than pay lip service to racism issues in the sector.
This blog post addresses four of the main related issues in the sector:
1.Lack of job security and inclusivity in temporary roles. Research has shown time and again that both job security and inclusivity are important aspects when tackling racism, with neither guaranteed in a short term temporary role. Learning Technologists, Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) administrators, Educational Designers, and related roles, are often misconstrued to be behind the monitor jobs, with often little involvement in pedagogy. In most institutions in the UK Higher Education (HE), these roles or departments are often not adequately supported, including the little consideration given in recruitment. In this sector, we are familiar with short term temporary recruitment in order to provide the much needed additional support for development of new courses or short-term projects. These come with high risks with little consideration given to Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI). For instance, most short term roles may be for 3 months maximum, and does not guarantee any job security.
2.Another area of concern while recruiting in the sector is the demographics of the UK and the geographical locations of applicants. As of 23rd Feb 2021, data published from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicate that there are 1, 576 000 workers in the Information & Communication, 2, 767 000 workers in the professional, scientific & technical activities sector and 3, 515 000 workers in the Education sector (Office of National Statistics, 2021). Sadly a deeper analysis of learning technologists cannot be undertaken for 2 reasons: 1. Ethnicity is missing from the data, and 2. Learning technologists do not necessarily work in the Education sector only, but can be sourced from any of the above three sectors.
3.Unequal pay between white staff and other ethnicities. Some more detailed data from ONS, indicate that in 2019 a £-0.24 difference in median hourly pay between White employees and employees from other ethnicities. The same data for 2019, shows a median hourly pay difference ranging from £-0.16 to £-4.11 in North East, North West, Yorkshire & Humberside, East Midlands, West Midlands, London, South East, South West, Wales and Scotland.
What effect does unequal pay have across the sector? Just watch Fran de Waal’s experiment of two monkeys getting paid unequally:
4.Gender empowerment and more diverse students/staff pool. Although there has been much progress in the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) sector, it still remains that the sector is dominated by white males, particularly in senior roles, which on the ground level often result in unconscious biases resulting in racism and gender inequality. In this sector, we are very far from witnessing equity to ethinic minority female staff in senior roles.
Whilst these issues are recurring in various fields (particularly STEM), we have decided to tackle racism issues in the sector from the time of recruitment. With the renewed focus on online learning and teaching (L&T), fast-tracked by the pandemic, getting recruitment right, not only alleviates EDI issues in the sector, but also provides momentum in tackling racism across L&T throughout the institution.
Current areas of focus on recruitment for the group include wording of job adverts and job specifications, shortlisting and interview processes, and also on-going mentoring post recruitment. It is important to identify from the long list of applicants, the right candidate and to also engage in staff development post recruitment, either in the form of mentoring/coaching.
Teeroumanee Nadan has a cross-disciplinary doctorate and 15 years of experience in learning technologies. She is an EDI enthusiast and a firm believer in the use of complex technologies for complex analysis and reporting, and simultaneously advocates for simplicity due to her works with less-abled and neurodivergent users.
Tracey Madden PhD MInstP SFHEA – Learning Technology Advisor
Before joining Edinburgh, Tracey held appointments in UK higher and further education, supporting curriculum design and staff development, including the use of learning technology. As part of the UK Physical Sciences Centre, she worked on national projects in such areas as OERs (open educational resources) and e-portfolios.
Dr Monica Chavez is an Educational Developer at the Centre for Innovation in Education. She has a PhD in Applied Linguistics in the field of scientific writing across cultures and the inequalities of academic writing across the social sciences. Her interests include communities of practice for education, decolonising the curriculum and digital storytelling as an assessment.
Ashe, S.D & Nazroo, J. (2015). Equality, Diversity and Racism in the Workplace: A Qualitative Analysis of the 2015 Race at Work Survey. ESRC Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity University of Manchester.https://hummedia.manchester.ac.uk/institutes/code/research/raceatwork/Equality-Diversity-and-Racism-in-the-Workplace-Full-Report.pdf
TED. (2013, November 3). Two Monkeys Were Paid Unequally: Excerpt from Frans de Waal’s TED Talk [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meiU6TxysCg&t=0s
Miller, G.V & Travers, C.J. (2005). Ethnicity and the experience of work: job stress and satisfaction of minority ethnic teachers in the UK. International Review of psychiatry, 17(5):317-27. https://doi.org/10.1080/09540260500238470
Office of National Statistics. (2021). People in work – Employment data covering employment rates, hours of work and earnings. https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork
Wilson, T. (2020, June 9). Racial inequality in the labour market has persisted for decades – we all have to play a part in addressing it. Institute of Employment studies. https://www.employment-studies.co.uk/news/racial-inequality-labour-market-has-persisted-decades-%E2%80%93-we-all-have-play-part-addressing-it