University of Derby Vice-Chancellor and academic honoured in Stonewall Regional Awards

11 June 2019

University of Derby Vice-Chancellor Professor Kathryn Mitchell and Sarah Barley-McMullen, the University’s LGBT+ Allies Staff Network Chair, have both received a regional Stonewall Award, in acknowledgement of their commitment to role modelling inclusion and equality.

In February this year, the University rose 189 points in the Stonewall Workplace Index, putting it within reach of becoming one of the most inclusive LGBT+ 100 employers in the UK.

Through the work identified in the University’s Stonewall Workplace Index submission, Stonewall awarded Professor Mitchell ‘Stonewall Senior Champion of the Year’ for the Midlands, and Sarah Barley-McMullen ‘Stonewall Role Model of the Year’ for the Midlands.

Professor Mitchell said: "The University of Derby places great importance on having Role Models and Allies for those with protected characteristics, so we are delighted that our work to promote inclusion, equality and diversity has been recognised in this way by Stonewall. 

"Our LGBT+ staff network has over 55 members, who are actively engaged in creating an inclusive culture where students and staff can explore their identity in a safe and supportive environment. 

"Over the last year, we have embedded more specific support mechanisms for Trans and Bi students, deepening the richness of the University's diversity even further. We know that if someone is able to be their whole self when they come through the University’s doors, then they are more likely to engage proactively in their studies, and in their professional and academic roles."

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York, where role models and allies of the LGBT+ community made a stand against the violence and discrimination that was thrown at them daily.

Pride events are now held all over the world, bringing together people who represent many different religious beliefs, identities and abilities.

For the first time, the University is sponsoring three local Pride events in Chesterfield, Derby and Belper. The events celebrate LGBT+ culture and brings together the diverse communities across Derbyshire.

In addition, an Inclusion Quality Mark is being created with graduate employers and stakeholders. This is to ensure benchmarking and the consistency of inclusive practice continues for graduates in employment and students on placement. 

Sarah Barley-McMullen added: "One of the worst things anyone can do to someone else is treat them as though they are invisible and as though how they identify is wrong. Having visible Role Models and Allies within an organisation not only says 'we see you, you matter', it also gives people the confidence to be their whole self within an organisation.

"The University of Derby does not identify difference in order to consciously be inclusive, but instead it creates a culture that normalises difference and respects who we are all meant to be. Through this approach the University is role modelling positive cultural change."

Find out about support for LGBT+ students at the University of Derby.  

Members of the LGBT+ Allies Network at the Stonewall event
Sarah Barley-McMullen and Dr Paula Holt accepting the Stonewall award on Vice-Chancellor Professor Kathryn Mitchell's behalf.

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