Equality and Inclusivity
Attendees of Dental Schools Council meetings comprise the most senior levels of dental education. Part of the council’s work therefore concerns encouraging the brightest candidates to rise to these levels, and identifying the barriers that have held certain groups back.
The Dental Schools Council is attended usually by heads of dental schools or heads of the health faculties which contain dental schools. The vast majority of people in these positions have in the past been men. While the council has no means of influencing promotion practices within its member institutions, it aims to promote equality among attendees, foster an inclusive and welcoming environment, and encourage leadership in all groups across the sector.
The central element of this work has been the creation of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Advisory Group and engagement with the Athena SWAN initiative.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Advisory Group
The purpose of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Advisory Group is to advise on equality practices within the membership organisations represented on the group. This includes the Dental Schools Council, Medical Schools Council and Veterinary Schools Council.
It was formed in 2015 as the result of a culture survey taken anonymously by female attendees of Medical Schools Council and Dental Schools Council meetings. These attendees were past and current heads of medical and dental schools, senior staff who had attended in the place of heads, and representatives from other organisations. The survey indicated that more could be done to ensure that all new attendees feel welcome and included on the council.
To further explore and address the matters raised in the survey, the EDI Advisory Group was created with Professor Dame Anna Dominizcak as chair.
Initiatives from the Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Advisory Group include:
- Equality and diversity is now a standing item on the agenda of council meetings
- A bullying and harassment policy and a code of conduct have been developed
- Contracting an external adviser to perform a second culture survey on the council, which included observation of meetings and the relaying of findings back to the organisation
- A member of the Executive Committee ‘buddying’ new attendees for their first three meetings