We are delighted to announce the launch of Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Equality and Diversity: An International Journal. This multi-lingual and fully open access journal will publish peer reviewed papers covering any aspect of equality and diversity, such as studies of employment, education and other provision of services. The aim of the journal is to provide a forum for international research which advances and challenges our understanding of equality and diversity from innovative theoretical and empirical perspectives.
Papers should be submitted via the online system accessible via the link below. Instructions for authors can also be found here
We welcome the following forms of submissions:
- Original research papers which examine equality and diversity in any disciplines / sector from any geographical location. Papers may be position pieces, theoretically informed empirical work, theoretical pieces or systematic literature reviews (between 6000 to 8000 words plus references and a 200 word abstract and up to five key words/terms).
- Case studies, including examples of equality and diversity interventions from the public and private sector, teaching, charities and other bodies (maximum length 5000 words plus references and a 150 word summary).
- Letters – this may include responses to previously published studies – we hope to encourage debate.
- Professional insight including, teaching resources (many of our readers will be engaged in teaching within higher education and the school system), community and industrial outreach and reports from conferences, training sessions, etc. (maximum length of 1500 words)
- Essays from students in the field of equality and diversity (maximum length 3000 words plus references and 150 word abstract).
Call for proposals for special issues:
Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Equality and Diversity: An International Journal will publish at least one special issue per year. Please contact the journal at firstname.lastname@example.org with an expression of interest and further details.
2 thoughts on “About”
Complying with frustration, the experience of equality and diversity practitioners in HE
The research that informed the research note by Sayce, S. University of East Anglia, Joy, S. University of East Anglia, Kinge, J. University of East Anglia and Sang, K. Heriot Watt is being published in the first edition of interdisciplinary perspectives on equality and diversity: an international journal. The research involved twelve equality and diversity practitioners within the Higher Education sector. The aim was to uncover how these practitioners handle their complex and contradictory equality and diversity duties within Higher Education in the UK. We used a form of asynchronous interview based on email interviews, which gave the practitioners space and time to review their thoughts on this topic.
We argue that understanding how practitioners deal with the challenge invoked by combining their political values and beliefs of social justice with working at the behest of institutions to implement equality and diversity practices is increasingly urgent as university’s economic climate changes. Promoting change in this environment can mean dealing with senior managers who, at best, may be ambivalent about equality and diversity and generally unsupportive of changes being made in this area and only prioritise being compliant with legislation. It can also mean working with managers who are also covertly or overtly hostile to these issues. Without managerial support in universities for a social justice agenda, there is potential for E&D practitioners to find that the university’s economic agenda tends to be prioritised.
The research has used Meyerson and Scully’s concept (1995) of the ‘tempered radical’ to give insight into how the challenges of this role are played out in the HE context. A tempered radical is a person who works and seeks advancement within mainstream organisations and professions but also want to change them to help diminish social injustice. They endeavour to be change agents within their organisations. My role is speaking the truth to people of power and act as a change agent and ask awkward questions. (Participant 2).However, they do not perfectly fit their organisations, not only because of their values and beliefs (their political sense of identity), but also because of their personal identities; their race, gender, or disability, which is often a feature of equality and diversity practitioners. These individuals are ‘tempered’ because they are angered by the incongruities between their own political values and the value that are enacted in universities. Thus, they have to manage their anger and sense of incongruity in order to avoid alienating significant others and to survive in their organisation. Consequently, they live with ambivalence. In effect, they have to use ambivalence to their advantage by choosing to seek compromise or accept some co-option in order to survive and battle on to achieve small gains in equality and diversity practice.
The findings indicated that one of the outcomes of ambiguity within the equality and diversity role was the creation of a greater emotional burden as their work could place them at odds with their own multiple identities which meant that as organisational employees they were an insider but in values and other beliefs could feel like an outsider. For example, I have support from my assistant and the Director of HR and the chair of the E&D Sub-committee, but that is it really! I feel quite isolated. I have more support from my peers in the Regional Equality Officers Network and from ECU (Equality challenge Unit) and from friends (Participant 1). Increasingly, the respondents outlined how this marginalisation led to feelings of frustration as E&D practitioners as they implemented university equality practices. Prior to the new Vice Chancellor arriving, I believe the work that I did was taken seriously – not always acted on but listened to. Equality and diversity has now fallen off the university agenda. (Participant 2)
We argue that if the prominence given to the equality agenda is dependent upon the individual motivations of senior managers, who may move to other institutions, then successful change will be extremely difficult to implement. While further research is required, our data suggests that equality and diversity practitioners would benefit from stronger support networks within their institutions and permanent commitment at senior levels in order to effect the positive change the sector needs as economic pressures increase.
To read the research note in full please see the first edition of interdisciplinary perspectives on equality and diversity: an international journal, which is due out this autumn.
Dr Susan Sayce
Norwich Business School
University of East Anglia
UK Top 15 (14th in the Guardian University Guide 2015; 14th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2015)
UK Top 3 for Student Experience (Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2014)
World top 1% (Times Higher Education World Rankings 2014-15)
World Top 100 (Leiden Ranking 2014)
Apprenticeships; only those from stable family homes need apply
Susan Sayce, Norwich Business School, University of East Anglia:
Connor Green’s IPED student essay on apprenticeship and inclusion http://journals.hw.ac.uk/index.php/IPED/issue/current confirms that apprenticeship schemes are a highly topical subject in the UK. The debate on apprenticeship schemes has been fuelled by political parties in the run-up to the general election of 2015. The Conservative party have promised to create 3 million new apprenticeship schemes, whilst the Labour party have promise 80,000 new apprenticeship schemes each year (Wintour, 2015). Apprenticeships are seen as a key route into employment that connects with the requirement of young people to engage in education and training till they are 18. Thus new apprenticeships still include traditional skill training and employment recognition but off-the job training offered by colleges and private providers, funding to contribute to off-the-job training costs and an industry wide framework based on NVQs
As the OECD points in its skills report http://www.oecd.org/els/emp/OECD%20Apprenticeship%20Note%2026%20Sept.pdf apprenticeships are a good fit for young people who may have the qualifications for HE but who consider that HE is not for them, and for other young people who are less academic and want to learn technical skills while working. It also stresses the need for apprenticeships to be opened up to women and disadvantaged young people generally. This support for apprenticeships is good news for employers who remain committed to training and developing a new generation of young people with key technical skills, which is fundamental to good quality apprenticeships schemes. But the OECD also stress the importance of good governance to avoid young people being exploited as cheap labour, which may be a risk as apprentice routes are widened in the UK to include new industries and new sectors.
As apprenticeship schemes expand from their traditional heartlands of construction and manufacturing to include public services such as local government, finance and even estate agencies. There has been one area that has been politically contentious and that is the low level of minimum pay for apprentices, which is set by government. There has always been an element of cost sharing re training among employers and apprentices but there have been concerns about the low level of apprenticeship wages and the threat of exploitation.
For example the former business secretary Vince Cable has been particularly vocal in support for a rise in the apprentice national minimum wage (Horsley, 2015). Additionally trade unions have expressed concern at the level of apprenticeship pay which they label as exploitative (BBC, 2015). Trade unions bodies including the national union of stduents also express concern that apprentice schemes are not fully inclusive for young people due to the low level of pay (NUS, 2015). On the 17th March 2015 the UK coalition government announced a 20% increase in the apprenticeship national minimum wage which took effect in October 2015.
Minimum Wage Levels
Year 21and over 18 to20 Under 18 Apprentice*
2015 (current rate) £6.70 £5.30 £3.87 £3.30
2014 £6.50 £5.13 £3.79 £2.73
*This rate is for apprentices aged 16 to 18 and those aged 19 or over who are in their first year. All other apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage for their age. https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates
However, despite these rises Green (2015) http://journals.hw.ac.uk/index.php/IPED/issue/current indicates that the OECD is right to highlight governance as an issue with apprenticeships. A National Union of Students (2015) report states that the apprentice wage is not enough to cover basic living expenses such as travel, rent and food. In order to cover these expenses many apprentices are having to seek additional part-time employment. It is argued the exploitative wage results in potential apprentices from disadvantaged backgrounds being excluded from the scheme due to the unaffordability. London Council (2012) reported that many young people would in fact be better off receiving benefits than partaking in an apprenticeship scheme. It is also argued the low wage of apprentice scheme creates an inclusivity to those with financially secure parental support, with low income families being unable to afford the resulting loss of child benefit. Also there is evidence Winterbotham et al. (2014) found that 24% of 16-18 year old apprentices are paid below their entitled minimum wage rate, a worrying trend when the level of pay is below the minimum wage. And this was the case with one apprentice that Green interviewed. Furthermore there is unequal apprenticeship wage distribution the TUC (2013) reported in (2013) that women had no representation in the highest paid apprenticeship occupations such as electricians, whose training has a higher cost premium. However it has to be recognised that the importance of pay to some apprentices is low because it is offset by training and development opportunities.
The apprentices all had negative perceptions of the apprentice national minimum wage. In regard to the apprentice national minimum wage as Green’s interviews (2015) outline the apprentices found travel and living costs difficult to meet: “It is barely enough to pay the bus fares to work each week…” (Apprentice 1, Sales) “No one could possibly live on £2 something an hour” which was the figure when the apprentice was interviewed. (Apprentice 3, Manufacturing).
A politician who was interviewed accepted that the pay was low but that was why the level was reviewed each year. A manufacturer who employed apprentices picked up on the politicians point about affordability “I recognise it is low…but we must consider the costs”. But this viewpoint was not shared by all the employers with an insurer who pays well above the minimum rate confirming that they didn’t think the low levels were fair.
A notion of unfairness emerged when talking to the apprentices as one apprentice who received over £7.00 a hour indicated with the low rate. It’s ridiculous… it takes the piss out of people” (Apprentice 2, Insurance).The apprentices all had negative perceptions of the apprentice national minimum wage. In regard to the apprentice national minimum wage the apprentices stated that travel and living costs were difficult to meet because they were barely able to pay the bus fares to work and that anyone who had to live on ‘£2, something an hour’ would struggle to keep a car on the road that would get them to work.
It was clear that the apprentices were dependent on family support because of the low levels of pay. For example, a manufacturing apprentice made reference to how cautious he/she had to be when spending and not living at home was not an option. It was the only way to afford the apprenticeship. A hairdressing apprentice considered her/himself to be entirely financially dependent on parental handouts: “I’m not financially dependent on myself at all really… Mum and Dad pay for everything” (Apprentice 4, Hairdressing).
The role of family support in apprenticeships was also mentioned by the trade union representative who viewed it as crucial for successfully completing an apprenticeship scheme because without it they “can’t even get to work” (Union representative). Furthermore the plastics manufacturer who ran 20 apprenticeships regarded parental support as vital to apprenticeship schemes: “It is important with apprenticeship schemes that you have a stable, supportive family” (Plastics manufacturer).
Based on an analysis of Green’s research this suggests that apprenticeships in the UK are viewed as tenable only when apprentices have stable family backgrounds and support, which as the OECD report highlights is not helping those from disadvantaged backgrounds who have more fragmented families. There also needs to be a recognition of the extent of financial dependency on parents and guardians in being able to pursue an apprenticeship scheme and this is clear in the government web-site which has an information site for parents and guardians. This is a point that needs to be considered politically as there is an assumption that all young people have access to this support, which is not always the case and that young people from more challenging home environment will self-select themselves out of consideration and find themselves excluded from this type of work thereby continuing to perpetuate wider social exclusion for those from unstable family backgrounds.