Equity, Inclusion and Wellbeing Strategy 2022-2025

Introduction by Professor Kathryn Mitchell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive

I am pleased to introduce the new Equity, Inclusion and Wellbeing Strategy for the University of Derby. Our new strategy will ensure inclusion is at the heart of our learning, teaching, and research environments, cultivating knowledge and behaviours in others that will go on to be socially transformative.

As a university, we are bound to a promise that realises the ambitions of our students. Our new inclusion strategy aims to further curiosity by raising awareness of the challenges faced by existing social inequalities and help the University deliver its purpose to empower people to achieve their potential and make a positive contribution to society. We know that racism, homophobia, ableism, sexism, bullying, and harassment continue to socially exist, and, through this strategy, we will challenge prejudice where we find it and enable our staff, students, and partners to add value to the lives of everyone in our region and beyond.

Our new strategy has been shaped by the voices of our staff, students and by organisational need. We recognise that there is a deeply felt connection between inclusion and wellbeing that rests in an environment where people feel psychologically safe to be their whole self and we enable people to contribute where they can. Through inclusion, we will raise awareness of equity and encourage role-modelling positive behaviours.

Vice-Chancellor Kathryn Mitchell
University of Derby Vice-Chancellor Kathryn Mitchell

We see inclusion as everyone’s business. I am proud of our commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion and wellbeing and I believe that this strategy will enable us to deliver excellence in inclusion and create a culture where individuals thrive.

We want our people to make a difference to the society in which they live, and to realise their ambitions through diversity of thought and curiosity. This strategy lays down our philosophy, with themed objectives and progress markers that will be a measure our of success.

the Vice-Chancellor's signature, Kathryn Mitchell

Professor Kathryn Mitchell CBE DL, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive

Our Equity, Inclusion and Wellbeing Philosophy

Our philosophy is a felt, lived, valued and inclusive experience where people feel they have purpose, place, choice and belonging.

Culture of belonging

Equity is important to us, and we want people to feel connected to the University and know that our success is based on the contributions that each makes. We know social inequalities exist, creating barriers for many people and privilege for a few. We challenge inequity and maximise potential through diversity of thought, creativity, and innovation, providing opportunities to succeed.

Zero tolerance

We treat people with dignity and respect, regardless of how they identify. We are committed to providing a safe space with robust mechanisms to enable people to actively call out prejudice of any kind, including racism, harassment and sexual misconduct, and report incidents to us. As active bystanders, we challenge where there is a lack of understanding, we raise awareness and encourage self-awareness.

Free from bias

Our leaders inspire people to be curious, stretch, challenge, and deliver ambitions with confidence, resilience, and pace. We encourage decision-making that is empowered by accountable freedoms and provide an environment that enables open discussion to increase trust. We want to attract and retain the very best talent and we support people to confidently raise issues without fear or favour.

Diverse of thought

We advance gender and race equity by participating with Athena Swan and the Race Equality Charters. We have developed a clear and agreed vision for the cultural outcomes and people experience they deliver. The pledges that we make through employer recognition schemes like the Armed Forces Covenant and Disability Confident, and as Stonewall Diversity Champions demonstrate our values to each other and the communities we partner.

Intersectional by default

We see lived experience as more than one protected characteristic and are transparent in data collection and reporting. Our data analysis raises awareness of hidden characteristics and shapes our investment in equity. We evidence the progress that we make through increased disclosure rates, improved staff and student satisfaction rates and use benchmarking to monitor our success.

Strategy for wellbeing

We take an holistic approach to wellbeing, recognising there is an implicit link between inclusion and wellbeing and how people experience work. We celebrate difference to promote open-mindedness and garner appreciation and wonder. People perform better when they can be their authentic self and, through allyship, we provide psychological safety and maintain health and wellbeing.

Vice-Chancellor Kathryn Mitchell talking to students in a break-out space

The Equity, Inclusion and Wellbeing Strategy 2022-2025

Through six themes, we will deliver excellence in equity, inclusion and wellbeing and exceed our commitment under the Equality Act (2010).

1. Accountability and leadership

Leadership is accountable for the governance of inclusion and wellbeing through our leadership processes.

We will embed inclusion within our governance practices to improve accountability and leadership. Equity, inclusion, and wellbeing will be discussed openly at all levels to engender trust and remove any barriers that equip poor attitudes and hinder progress. We will actively take time to listen to people’s lived experience and shape our processes to enhance staff engagement.

2. Culture and belonging

Develop a culture that is compassionate and culturally sensitive, promoting connections with others through our networks, locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

Collaboration is a key underpinning feature of this strategy, recognising that shared ownership will deliver success. We work closely with our critical friends, networks, allies, employees, and partners to enrich the inclusion agenda and to help us build cultural competencies within our staff and student populations and enhance and strengthen our engagement with the community.

3. Workplace representation

Evolve a workplace that prioritises diversity and equity, maximising the potential of our people.

We aim to improve equity in the workplace by taking proactive steps to empower potential and unlock talent. We will do this by attracting and retaining a diverse workforce that is representative of the city and the region, and that our leadership is representative of the staff body, thereby increasing diversity of thought.

4. Wellbeing and accessibility

Accessibility and wellbeing are inclusive and universal, creating a full people experience.

We take an holistic approach to wellbeing and prioritise workplace health and wellbeing by providing tools and a programme of activity that drives a positive wellbeing environment. Our leaders will manage wellbeing in a consistent way, undertaking open conversations that support good mental health. We will integrate universal accessibility and inclusion into the needs of the organisation, our students, and our employees. We will plan and design inclusion and wellbeing into our buildings and increase digital capabilities through learning.

5. Evaluation and recognition

Gain external recognition through inclusion and wellbeing charter marks, delivering excellence.

We will evaluate our success through the recognition we achieve in the charter marks and employer recognition schemes that we submit to. Through the Race Equality Charter and Athena Swan, our data will enable us to address race and gender equity in the employee lifecycle, our research environment, academic pipeline, and student outcomes. The Mental Health at Work Commitment will increase accountability and responsibility for workplace wellbeing.

6. Student engagement

Cultivate a landscape that embeds inclusion and enables our students to thrive, succeed and become socially transformative.

We enable successful outcomes for students by offering a diverse curriculum that is inspiring and thought provoking. We will deliver positive mental health support for all students and enable employability opportunities in real world settings.

university staff mingle at an event

Ownership and progress

We realise that change takes place from within the circles of debate and not outside of the discussion, therefore we ensure fair representation is given to the action plan that delivers the strategic objectives. Ownership for the delivery of actions is distributed across the whole organisation, seeing all levels of the University leadership driving the inclusion agenda and ensuring that we make progress. The action plan will be monitored by the University Equity, Inclusion and Wellbeing Committee, and will ensure that focus is maintained.

An illustrated dynamic model accompanies the strategy and aims to show how inclusion connects to the University’s values and evolves our culture from the inside to the out. The University’s leadership maintains the momentum of the wheel, driving inclusion as a continuous cycle of progress.

With leadership in the centre, the strength of the wheel is therefore built around:

 Sitting outside of the wheel but attached are the progress markers:

The Legal Framework

We regard the legal framework as a minimum standard. The ambitions held by our university community for equity and inclusion exceed the legislative contexts within which we work.

The Equality Act (2010) imposes general and specific duties on public sector bodies (including higher and further education institutions).


In exercise of all our functions to have due regard to the need to:


Who is covered by the Act?

There are currently nine protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion is relevant to all, as each person can identify with more than one protected characteristic. Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion is the responsibility of everyone at the University.