18 June 2019
As an International HRM student, diversity and inclusion are very important to me. The University of Edinburgh has its own way of making its employees feel like they are part of the family, one of them being through the Staff Pride Network. The Staff Pride Network (SPN) at the university aims to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all its employees who identify themselves as part of the LGBT+ community, along with interested PhD. students.
Last month, I got in touch with Jonathan MacBride at the University, who identifies himself as a gay, disabled man, and has been co-chair of the Staff Pride Network (SPN) since it formed three years ago. Jonathan took it on himself to revive the Staff Pride Network. He wanted to ensure diversity and inclusion were present at the highest levels of the committee, which is why the committee comprises a Bi Rep, Disability Rep, BME Rep and Trans & Non-Binary Rep, among others.
To ensure that everybody knew of this network, it was necessary that the identity, the purpose, and the people were effectively communicated, which was one of the major challenges for them.
Events and projects
The SPN hosts multiple events every month and organises projects, which include:
- A monthly evening event
- Lunch time monthly events at Central, KB and Western General campuses (these staff-only social events are for networking and feedback)
- Celebrating commemorative events such as LGBT History Month, LGBT STEM Day, Bi Visibility Day and Trans Visibility Day
- Poster campaigns
- The rainbow lanyard campaign
- Conferences / academic paper presentations
The main aim behind organising these campaigns and events is to celebrate the diversity of the individuals who are a part of the university and the community. This not only helps them personally, but also positively affects their productivity, which ultimately impacts the organisation’s growth and development.
The SPN at the university received the Stonewall Scotland Network of the Year 2018 Award for its efforts to making a difference in the lives of the individuals identifying themselves as LGBT+.
Representatives of SPN have not only positively influenced the work environment at the university, they have also worked in partnership with other universities and local community groups to fundraise for charities and spread awareness. The strength of the SPN lies in its hardworking, enthusiastic, dedicated, and motivated volunteers, who put in all their efforts for the success of the events and campaigns. The SPN has recently launched its new blog, which will publish all the updates of the network and their events/ achievements. To encourage awareness of the Staff Pride Network, the team promotes the SPN and its activities on social media. It also has merchandise such as T-shirts, pens, business cards, and posters available to all those interested in equality at the university.
SPN is a great platform for the staff members to support and advise each other. I believe this to be a huge step taken by the university to ensure the well-being of its employees. In today’s competitive world, it is very important for organisations to value their human resources and their individuality. It is a great move that signifies that the university believes in non-discrimination on any grounds.
To make sure that the students from the community do not feel left out, there is a Pridesoc student network that addresses their issues and supports them. To celebrate equality and diversity in the year of their 100 year anniversary, the Business School also started 3 new scholarships this year for its MSc and MBA students, called the Positive Action for LGBT+ Scholarship.
Personally it feels great to have been a part of the Rainbow Lanyard project, which gave me an opportunity to make my contribution in support of the Staff Pride Network at the university, and I look forward to similar opportunities in the future.
Vinisha Prakash, MSc International Human Resource Management