Many of you have expressed your discontent at the recent blanket policy of Head of School positions automatically going out to external advertisement, and in some cases the use of headhunters in the recruitment process. The committee shares these concerns and the strength of feeling against this policy. Our wider opposition to this policy and motions passed by the branch on the issue are laid out here. In this email, we wish to draw attention to a particularly pernicious element of management’s justification for the imposition of this policy: the spurious deployment of the equality and inclusion agenda.
In negotiations on this issue representatives of the university executive group have argued that the blanket policy of external recruitment was justified because it would bring about a greater diversity in senior management. While in some specific areas of the university the external recruitment of Heads of Schools may have led to greater diversity in the senior management team, the notion that a blanket policy will achieve this aim is not credible. In many disciplines the wider pool of likely candidates within the sector is highly skewed towards white men. In addition, in some schools external recruitment represents a marked change in practice and will be an obstacle to the career progression of current staff from underrepresented groups. The university has provided no empirical evidence to support the claim that this blanket process will result in greater diversity.
Moreover, we are alarmed at the casual and, seemingly, instrumental deployment of such an important agenda. In the context of the failure of the university to enter into formal negotiations on either our gender pay claim or our anti-casualisation claim (HESA data shows that women and BAME staff are over-represented on these insecure contracts), which the branch submitted over the last academic year, it is especially disappointing and objectionable.
As a result, we invite members performing equality and inclusion roles for the university to consider whether the cause of equality and inclusion is best served by their continuance in these positions while the imposition of externally advertised Head of School posts remains.