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Equality, diversity and inclusion and governance

Supporting boards and governors to tackle inequalities and promote equity.

Most institutions have issues to address such as widening participation of students from different groups; ensuring fair degree outcomes; addressing pay gaps; supporting pipelines of diverse teaching and research talent; or connecting with and serving their wider communities. Boards need to be equipped with the range of perspectives and skills to navigate and challenge on these issues.

We are leading work in UK HE on enhancing EDI perspectives within institutional governance, in terms of both board diversity and board assurance, including partnering with other sector groups such as the global 30% Club for gender diversity and the global search firm Perrett Laver. We draw on insight from developing and running the internationally recognised Charters accreditation schemes in race equality and gender equality for universities.

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Complete the form by clicking below and we will be in touch to discuss your requirements and how we can support you in achieving your goals.

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Supporting a step-change in Board diversity

The second report into the diversity of HE governors in the UK published by Advance HE reveals insights from our analysis of HESA data looking at the diversity characteristics of governors in UK higher education.

Findings from the Advance HE analysis of this data revealed that:

  • The proportion of women on governing bodies increased by just 0.2% to 42.4%, a slowing of the positive trend recorded over the past decade.
  • 12.2% of governors were from racially minoritised ethnic groups, very similar to the proportion within UK HE academic staff (12.1%).
  • Over half (54.0%) of governors were aged 56 or over, with this being the least diverse age group, though still contributing significantly to the diversity of the governor population as a whole.

The report puts a spotlight on the current diversity of boards, and provides the data to bring to light areas of underrepresentation. This is an important milestone for the sector to understand the data behind board diversity, in order to put in place measures and develop a culture to increase board diversity.

Download the report

Supporting effective processes and strategies for board diversity and inclusion

As the data shows, diversity on boards in the UK sector is lacking. We provide bespoke reviews and support towards effective board recruitment and succession plans, working with secretaries and nominations committees.

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Board Diversity Toolkit

Board Diversity Toolkit launched in November 2021 as an output of the Board Diversity Practice Project, run by the University of Gloucestershire, in collaboration with the international executive search firm Perrett Laver as part of Advance HE's 2020-21 Collaborative Development Fund

The Toolkit is designed to help member institutions to improve the diversity and inclusivity of their governing bodies, whether as a Secretary, Chair of Governors, Governance and Nominations Committee member, or anyone interested in tackling under-representation and aiming for inclusion at the Board level in the higher education sector.

Advance HE members can access the Toolkit and accompanying resources here.

Download the toolkit
Toolkit - board diversity
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Key resources

Board diversity framework

Following the publication of the Leadership Foundation report ‘Increasing the diversity of senior leaders in higher education: the role of executive search firms’  authored by Professor Simonetta Manfredi in March 2017, we have published a diversity principles framework to support greater diversity in board appointments. 

Download the framework

Board Recruitment Framework

In line with the diversity principles framework, Advance HE has launched a board recruitment framework as part of the project. This includes guidelines for preparing job descriptions, person specifications and advert texts for board roles which are inclusive. 

Download the framework

Board Recruitment and Diversity in Higher Education

Diverse and inclusive boards support institutional success, with the confidence to assure equality, diversity and inclusion matters. Our guidance webpage collates resources and publications to support your board and governors.

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The role of Governance in Equality in Higher Education

Governance should influence -  and drive progress in – equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) for students and staff, and wider society. Our guidance webpage collates resources and publications to support your board and governors.

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Who we've worked with

EDI Governance - Who we've worked with
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Keep up to date with Advance HE

Monthly Governance Bulletin

Every month we send out a newsletter that collates the latest news from the month and our most recent resources, including blogs and Advance HE reports. The newsletter also highlights upcoming dates for key events and programmes within the Advance HE portfolio.

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Governance News Alerts

Our News Alerts provide regular updates from across the sector on the latest policy changes or introductions, updated guidance and news. We provide an at-a-glance view of the piece along with the implications for boards and governors.

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Resources and guidance

Advance HE is committed to producing and sharing news, guidance, research, publications, resources and toolkits to support good governance. Take a look at our Governance guidance pages where these are collated.

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