About the EDI Unit
The establishment of an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Unit in University College Cork was announced by President Patrick O'Shea on International Women's Day, March 8th 2017. This announcement came as the Higher Education landscape in Ireland and Europe has begun to focus in a holistic and targeted way at gender equality in particular:
- UCC was one of seven universities involved in the cross-European GENOVATE consortium. A Gender Equality Action Plan was developed for UCC, which the University Management Team committed to implementing in September 2015. Amongst its nine gender equality actions, GENOVATE recommended the establishment of a “structural focal point for equality in the University.”
- Lead by Professor Caroline Fennell, UCC also applied for the Equality Challenge Unit’s Athena SWAN Bronze institutional award in 2015. The university received this award in August 2016 based on its 2016-2019 Action Plan.
- The HEA National Review of Gender Equality in Higher Education Institutions published in June 2016 recommended that national funding agencies require institutions to hold an Athena SWAN Bronze award byu 2019 in order to receive further funding. This report also produced a range of recommendations on advancing gender equality in senior leadership, organisational culture and policies.
However, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion have been a core focus of teaching, research and policy activity for a wide range of UCC staff and students for decades. At University level, the UCC Equality Committee has existed for many years and has advised the University on equality initiatives, and produced equality strategies and annual reports. A Higher Education Equality Unit existed in UCC from 1998 to 2002.
The EDI Unit is lead by Dr Avril Hutch, who was appointed to the role in June 2021, taking over from its first director, Dr Karl Kitching, Avril comes to UCC from the RCSI, where she was for four years the Associate Director/Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion. Some of the key responsibilities of the EDI Director are to:
- Lead on the development and delivery of the EDI strategy across UCC, working with the University senior leadership team and wider partners in support of the University Strategic Plan.
- Provide high-level special guidance on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and access additional expert resource from across the University.
- Work in conjunction with the Deputy President and Registrar and Director of Human Resources to take responsibility for setting EDI strategic objectives, developing policy and delivering KPIs.
- Work collaboratively with colleagues on strategic objectives across the organisation to increase participation of all parts of the University and develop robust knowledge sharing mechanisms to ensure the University management team and colleagues are briefed and the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion are embedded and inform every aspect of the University’s work
- Lead and oversee the University’s Athena SWAN award and other national initiatives and provide effective management and support of various University committees and groups.
- Support staff to demonstrate their commitment to EDI.
- Raise awareness amongst all staff to fulfil their responsibilities to comply with UCC’s regulations, policies and procedures.