Earlier this year, Patrick Johnson joined ULaw as the first Director of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI). After just a few months, we’ve already seen the impact of his work, from his involvement in Diversity Matters events to developing staff diversity networks. We caught up with Patrick to discuss his plans for the future and what students can do to become an EDI ally.
My undergraduate degree is in Business Management and I have a postgraduate diploma in Careers Guidance. I trained as a Careers Adviser and worked in schools and colleges for ten years. During this period, I was promoted into management and managed a team of careers advisers working in schools and colleges in Cheshire.
In 2001, I moved to the University of Manchester, where I was a Senior Project Manager and Careers Consultant. I spent several years working with other universities and graduate employers to diversify their workforce by developing internships and mentoring programmes specifically for students from underrepresented groups.
I was then promoted to Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for the University of Manchester, where I supported staff and students for 13 years before becoming Director of EDI at ULaw.
I was drawn to working at ULaw as I wanted a new challenge and felt I could make a difference in another organisation. The fact that this was a newly created role and part of the Executive Board excited me. I felt that ULaw was serious about diversity and inclusion and wanted to further develop this area of work. The excellent student satisfaction results and the innovation and growth happening at ULaw also made me very interested in the role.
I have only been at ULaw for just over seven weeks now, so it is still early days. I have already been involved in hosting two Diversity Matters events for LGBTQ+ History Month and International Women’s Day. I have also just initiated the development of staff diversity networks. We will be having the first meetings of the BAME, disabled and LGBTQ+ staff networks in the next few weeks.
We have also just started a project to create a video highlighting why it is important to have more BAME tutors and teaching staff.
I am still a newbie but I am looking forward to developing and getting involved in many more initiatives.
In the short term, I will develop an EDI strategy that will set out our objectives for the next few years. To give you an indication of the key themes, they will include increasing the ethnic diversity of our academic staff/tutors; ensuring that all students access, continue, achieve and progress equally; and promoting an inclusive environment where every student and member of staff feel safe and have a sense of belonging to the ULaw community.
I am passionate about EDI because I care about people and I believe in fairness and justice. It is very simple for me; every person, no matter who they are, deserves to be treated fairly and with dignity and respect. I don't often come across blatant direct discrimination in my work but I do see indirect, unconscious and unthinking bias. I aim to help raise awareness about unequal treatment both for students and for staff.
Universities play a crucial role in improving diversity; teaching and developing the next generation of leaders. Our future leaders have an important role to play in understanding why diversity is important and ensuring that it is valued, supported and celebrated. If universities don’t impact students’ thinking in terms of diversity, then I believe they will hinder the progress of diversity for future generations.
Students can show their support by engaging in diversity and inclusion activities, initiatives and training. This may be through the Student Association, campus activity or external initiatives. Be an ally and support your fellow students by being an active bystander and calling out unacceptable behaviour where you see it. Be open to difference around you; it makes the world a more interesting place.
This generation will soon be tomorrow’s decision-makers, who will support legislation, campaign and challenge for what is right and set the tone for whether we become a truly inclusive society or not. Every student has a role to play in helping to improve diversity in the workplace.
At ULaw, within the next ten years, I would hope to see a staff body that is as diverse as our students. I hope to see ULaw as a destination of choice for students and staff based on its reputation for excellent teaching and work in diversity and inclusion.
I would want to see every student achieve their potential, and there be no differential outcome based on their socio-economic status, gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation or any other protected characteristic.
Outside of ULaw, I hope to see more diversity in senior influential positions. This will help change the narrative about who and what is important for all of society.
Discover more about our most recent diversity event, Diversity Matters: Gender.