Tony Nneke is a Higher Education Specialist who is passionate about promoting equality, diversity and inclusion. I am proud of the great strides Tony has made to raise awareness about these important issues, and he has reflected on these below in his blog.
The title of this blog has been the topic of much discussion and debate, at many conferences, and rightly so. This is a hot topic within all industries; across public and private sector.
Higher Education institutions, in particular, are honest enough to ask themselves “Does our leadership, academic and student profile reflect society when it comes to representation of diversity, equality and inclusion?” It is a question that presents the opportunity to review current processes - reshape, rethink and revalue. Then either continue with conscious competence that they are heading in the right direction or start to implement changes, to better reflect the society they will be enriching. This resonates with me personally and professionally.
The focus of this blog is on the staff community but I am mindful of the greater reflection and action needed in the student community. A more positive change towards diversity, equality and inclusion for students, is from my personal experience, something that is close to my heart and quite frankly could be its own blog.
Whilst attending a seminar hosted by the Higher Educational Policy Institute I was asked “So what does Oracle do in this area?” It was quite a simple question and I know Oracle does a lot to promote and support these issues. I was surprised they didn’t know, but of course why should they? We shouldn’t expect them to know; I certainly shouldn’t have.
It is all our responsibility to share our stories; it is our job to wax lyrical about the good work we are doing to encourage greater representation of diversity, equality and inclusion. We should be just as obsessive about our great initiatives in this area as we are to showcase our customer success stories of Oracle applications and technology.
It became clear to me that the Higher Education industry could benefit from hearing what Oracle is doing to embrace and uphold diversity, equality and inclusion. I felt it important to champion sharing our learnings, stories and programmes with the sector. After all, sharing best practices is vital when trying to build a community that truly wants to focus on these pillars of society.
So I set-about organising Oracle’s first Diversity, Equality & Inclusion in Higher Education Conference. I was thrilled with the support and guidance of Diana Beech - now Policy Adviser to the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation - to ensure the agenda accurately covered the challenges of the sector. I also wanted this to raise awareness of Oracle’s fantastic programmes and highlight how Oracle works in partnership with Higher Education institutions.
A great example of this is our work with Women In Industry. The Oracle Women Leadership (OWL) programme empowers and mentors Oracle’s female staff to develop their careers; instilling a sense of pride and inspiring them to continue forging ahead in their profession. Women at Oracle get to hear from and be mentored by senior leaders; they get to support and are a part of great causes aimed at motivating women to know their worth. After the conference, I was approached by universities to help them create similar initiatives for their female staff.
We also discussed and shared the great work Oracle is doing in supporting the LGBT+ community; particularly with Oracle Pride Employee Network (OPEN). In fact the conference keynote was given by the chair of this group, who is transgender. She provided a very thought-provoking and personal insight as to what it was like for her whilst at university and for transgender in general. She described what Oracle does through OPEN and how it provides a platform for LGBT+ colleagues to share their experiences without prejudice and fear. It is a place to discuss innovative ideas, to continue to promote awareness and positive change for all.
These are just a few examples and Oracle continues to look at all angles of diversity, equality and inclusion. For example I am part of a new internal team creating a BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) group that will pride itself on continuing the great work of our all programmes, through stronger cultural leadership.
Quite rightly, more and more customers don’t just ask us whether our solutions can meet their needs. They also ask us to demonstrate how we as an organisation encourage and maintain diversity, equality and inclusion. Customers want to know the type of organisation they are provisioning products and services from and that we have the capability to understand all of their needs, and their customers’ needs. At the conference, we explained how Oracle had to change to focus on this aspect, to be able to accurately evidence this, as part of the sales process.
I learned from our conference that core principles are very much transferrable in most professions, as they are really social and moral values at play. Four questions to ask yourself:
Oracle wants to be part of the discussions and debate. Oracle has great programmes in diversity, equality and inclusion. We are speaking to universities about these, as we believe in the social value impact. Above all, it is something that we are very proud to talk about.