Higher Education

Changing mindsets to reduce discrimination at work – ft. Dominic Pates

Update: video with full captioning finally added.

Today is the World Day for Safety & Health at Work, the day where there will be talks about physical and psychological safety and health, most likely a session that will take place during lunchtime or at five pm, or let’s make that 6pm. And the remaining days, we will scuffle around and do everything possible simply to get that paycheck, including putting at risk our own safety and health at work, and/or that of our colleagues too. It is high time we change our mindset around how we do our work.

This post is about changing mindsets, it specifically highlights the need of changing mindsets to reduce discrimination at work as part of the Celebrating Small Steps in HE series. Are you a non-racist or an antiracist? This blog features:

  • An interview with Dominic Pates, highlighting the importance of changing our mindset at work
  • The mindset to work against discrimination
  • Being an antiracist – Committment: making time, being brave, and reflecting

@Tee_Nadan interviews @dompates on the importance of changing our #mindset to reduce #discrimination #higherEd Are you non-racist or an antiracist?

In the video below, Dominic Pates, Senior Educational Technologist at the City University of London, discusses four main aspects that he considers when tackling discrimination, which is all about adopting the appropriate mindset:

  1. Lead by example
  2. Listen to colleagues
  3. Recruit diverse teams
  4. Bake diversity into practice

Dominic also gives an example of how he changed his approach to working with someone who has cerebral palsy, and also highlights how shocked he has been hearing about lived experiences of colleagues of colour, and his continuous determination to be an antiracist. Read to the end of this post for considerations and tips if you wish to implement the approach taken by Dominic in your own work.

“Celebrating small steps in HE” – Changing Mindsets to reduce discrimination at work ft. Dominic Pates

The mindset to work against discrimination

Working around discrimination is a constant cycle of reflection and improvement in one’s thoughts, behaviours, and practice, that is, keeping change is a constant. It is important to highlight that within the Higher Education sector:

  1. there is a staggering number of discrimination cases that go unreported, and
  2. because you have not witnessed discrimination or are aware of it, it does not mean there is no discrimination within your institution.

Looking into racism, this change takes the form and shape of: Are your behaviours and practices non-racist or antiracist? Are you committed?

Being committed to antiracism needs a change in mindset so that you can change your practice. You need:

  • Make time
  • Show bravery against challenges
  • Reflect on your practice

Being an antiracist – showing committment

Time. It is important to spend the time required to do what needs to be done. You do not want to rush into a performative measure and then again having to discuss racism issues in your next institutional strategic vision.

Being an antiracist is a journey. Working on antiracism is a journey too. And both need time. Being an antiracist means making time to:

  • show up to meetings with antiracist agendas
  • work on antiracist initiatives
  • assess ethnic community needs
  • listen to concerns and challenges
  • reflect
  • take a step back when needed and change strategy, among others.

Bravery is needed to make a stand against racism. In your early journey, you will encounter non-racist measures which are thought to be antiracist. And you need bravery to challenge these. Another example of bravery in your early journey is standing up for power and authority. Let’s face it, most institutions have a very white male-dominated senior management team that has to authorise antiracist initiatives, while holding the power and authority for final decisions. You might be more familiar with the several DEI Deans who have recently been recruited within UK HE in the last two years, but sadly they do not hold the ultimate decision-making power, this is probably your white male VC. How do you stand against this decision-making power/authority? How do you stand up to get decision-making power/authority?

Reflection is important for change. Here are some pointers to reflect on:

One common challenge that you may face in your early stage of being an antiracist is tone policing. This comes from non-racist perspectives and the misunderstanding of the difference between being a non-racist and an antiracist. What you may find is you are faced with people who dictate how things should be reframed just so they feel comfortable hearing those statements. You would usually face tone policing from people who are non-racist and/or who do not have the committment (time and bravery) to be an antiracist.

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