Workers raise doubt about NUIG equality post, according to Connacht Tribune article

“We can’t have confidence in someone who is not independent of the senior management team that has presided over institutional discrimination.”

  • Maggie Ronayne, member of SIPTU’s equality committee of NUIG

SUMMARY: The following article appeared in the March 14th edition of the Connacht Tribune regarding reaction to NUI Galway’s recent hiring of a vice president for equality and diversity. You can also read the article by clicking on this link: 

http://connachttribune.ie/workers-raise-doubt-about-nuig-equality-post-809/

by Dara BradleyMar 14, 2016

University workers have raised doubts about the independence of NUI Galway’s new vice-president for equality and diversity.

Trade union SIPTU fears that the appointment could be an “expensive public relations excercise”.

NUIG announced last week that Professor Anne Scott, formerly of Dublin City University, has been appointed to the newly-created position. The press release was not sent to Galway City Tribune.

Professor Scott is currently executive dean of the faculty of education, health and community in Liverpool John Moores University. She will focus initially on “the elimination of gender inequality” at NUIG.

President of NUIG, Jim Browne welcomed her appointment in the new role, which he said “will lead on addressing issues of equality and diversity across the university”.

The appointment of a vice president for equality and diversity was one of the recommendations of the task force on gender equality established by NUIG’s governing body last February. SIPTU did not engage with the task force due to concerns about its independence. And yesterday a spokesperson said the union cannot have confidence in the new vice president.

“We can’t have confidence in someone who is not independent of the senior management team that has presided over institutional discrimination,” said Maggie Ronayne, a member of SIPTU’s equality committee of NUIG.

Ms Ronayne, an academic, said staff would have to adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach and judge the new vice president on her actions but, as of now, the trade union is sceptical.

Ms Ronayne added: “That’s why we have been calling for an independent equality review. She has been appointed by the same management team that has presided over institutional gender inequality and she will be reporting to that same management team. That is not independent. Why are they so afraid of independent scrutiny, what is it that they have to hide?”

Ms Ronayne said Prof Scott’s independence will be revealed by how she deals with outstanding legal cases regarding gender inequality, serious issues in relation to administration staff, who are mostly women, and other equality issues at NUIG.

The cost of the appointment is another factor that concerns SIPTU – the new position commands a salary of between €106,000 and €136,000 per annum, according to the job advertisement.

Ms Ronayne said: “Students and staff face cutbacks across the board, and yet here is a new position with an annual salary well in excess of €100,000. Is this just another expensive PR exercise?”

Meanwhile, the task force recommended that all senior staff undergo “mandatory unconscious bias training” to combat the endemic gender equality at NUIG.

NUIG last week confirmed that “since September, over 160 members of the university leadership have completed this training, including president, registrar and deputy president, vice-presidents, deans, heads of school, chairs of committees and interview boards and all other senior decision-makers.”

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