Jul 28 2015

Racial Biases in Recruitment

Leave a comment

Many organisations are promoting diversity throughout their workforce to create a competitive edge in the market. However, there are questions as to how bias in the recruitment and selection process hinders an organisation’s efforts. Snéha Khilay discusses bias in the recruitment and selection process, and its effect on organisations who are trying to achieve a competitive edge with reference to some thought provoking cases. 

Being good is easy, what is difficult is being just.

Victor Hugo

Latest research conducted by McKinsey indicates that organisations in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians*.

@ Flickr Alan Cleaver

@ Flickr Alan Cleaver

Other research has shown that teams with a wide spread of diversity outperform homogeneous teams.  Too many similarities within the team members can lead to teams being complacent resulting in poor decision making process, whereas allowing for multiple perspectives lead to innovation and more consideration being given to potential risks.

In spite of general acknowledgement of a sound business case for implementing diversity in organisations, concerns about the low percentage of black and minority ethnic colleagues at middle to senior management levels continue.  One of the roots of this gap could be on the recruitment processes. Are these processes robust in monitoring and evaluating whether the outcomes are reasonable and fair? Recent research conducted by Race for Opportunity found that only 29% of Black and Minority Ethnic candidates, applying through a recruitment agency, were successful in securing jobs compared to 54% of their white counterparts. A colleague from a recruitment agency mentioned that her agency is hesitant about putting forward CVs with unusual or ‘foreign’ names as these CVs are often rejected by their clients. Furthermore recruiting managers seem to be spend more time in evaluating positive information on white candidates’ CVs and dismiss relevant and positive information on CVs of non-white applicants.

Bob** Founder and Managing Director of an IT company (300 employees) recently indicated that he would only appoint someone who thinks, acts and talks like him. He added that during the interview process, he assesses whether the candidate has the potential to be a Director of his company. In essence Bob is actively seeking candidates whom he considers to be a ‘good fit’ to the organisation.

Using Bob as an archetypical panel member in an interview process, he would most likely align himself with those who are like him and thereby subconsciously reject candidates who he considers not to be a good fit. Malcolm Gladwell claims that within the first 7 seconds of meeting someone, we make eleven judgements about the person and subconsciously we gather data to justify and maintain these judgements.

©Flickr user FutUndBeidl

©Flickr user FutUndBeidl

Let’s take this further. We have two candidates for the same job, Mike who is white and male and Sukhdev who is male and Sikh, wearing a turban. During the interview, Bob, identifying more with Mike would inadvertently give Mike the ‘benefit of doubt’, if Mike stumbled or was hesitant in response to a question. Bob would put him at ease and show patience. By contrast, Bob might not be so tolerant/patient of Sukhdev’s hesitation. Bob’s conclusion would be Sukhdev is not confident or articulate and therefore will not fit into our organisation’.  Bob’s perceptions about the interviews would constitute his reality.  Bob might feel that he had conducted all interviews similarly, but not recognise that his decision of appointing Mike was subconsciously driven by his alliance to  and feeling comfortable with Mike. ‘It’s like going on a date, you just know when you are compatible’ Quote from a recruiting manager

Often there is the concept of social awkwardness, a process of trying to build rapport with Black and Minority Ethnic candidates. I call these the ‘Are you sure?’ moments all linked to perceptions of personal norms. In a recent interview, a candidate, again wearing a turban introduced himself as ‘Philip Singh’. He was asked, ‘are you sure that is your name’. Philip responded with a yes to which the interviewer asked whether he was christened with the name. Philip’s parents simply liked the name. In another interview, a black male candidate asked about support networks for LGBT staff. He was met with the response of ‘Are you sure you are gay, I don’t think I have met anyone who is Black and Gay’. In another situation, a black man on appointment was told by our archetypical Bob, ‘I have never had a black man in my team, are you sure you will teach me how to behave myself so that I don’t make mistakes on race issues? Although we can argue with a vehement ‘surely not in this day and age!’ the reality highlights a different truth. Incidentally in the latter two scenarios, both candidates with their wealth of knowledge, skills and experience turned down the job offers.

At the same time, there is the flip side, do the rapport building questions from the interview panel members highlight differences? In one situation during the social pleasantries exchange stage of an interview, a Muslim woman wearing a hijab was asked whether she would be fasting during Ramadan. She subsequently raised a formal complaint against the interview panel members, convinced that she was not offered a job because she was Muslim.

Fundamentally if organisations want to have a competitive business edge, considerable care needs to be given during the recruitment and selection process to ensure that relevant, valid and reliable information is taken into consideration.  There should be a process in place that provides justification or explanation when distinguishing potential candidates from those who are considered as not suitable. There needs to be some form of accountability on attitudes and behaviours. The quote from Victor Hugo (1802) sums it well “Being good is easy, what is difficult is being just.”

*While correlation does not equal causation (greater gender and ethnic diversity in corporate leadership doesn’t automatically translate into more profit), the correlation does indicate that when companies commit themselves to diverse leadership, they are more successful. Mackenzie Report

** Names have been changed

SnehaSnéha Khilay is a diversity and leadership consultant/trainer. Snéha carries out consultancy and training on Diversity and Inclusion, Managing Diversity and the Law, Cultural Competency, Dignity at Work and Conflict Resolution. Snéha has published articles on diversity and leadership in Management Today, Start Your Business, Simply Business, Professional Manager, Change Board, People and People Management. Visit Snéha’s website at www.bluetuliptraining.co.uk.

Print Friendly
Posted by: Posted on by akhtarn2 Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

Jul 20 2015

Women’s Library@LSE archive – women and the Miners’ Strike

Leave a comment

This article was originally posted on the LSE History blog

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Archivist Kate Higgins uses the Women’s Library@LSE archive to look back at women’s response to the Miners’ Strike 1984-85, on its 30th anniversary.

Thirty years ago this month the miners’ strike of 1984-85 – called nationally by Arthur Scargill of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on 12 March 1984 following National Coal Board announcements of pit closures – ended and miners began to return to work. It had been the longest major period of industrial action in British history.

Miners' Strike rally, London 1984

While women in mining communities had not participated actively in earlier miners’ strikes, this strike was different because the proposed closures threatened the communities’ entire way of life –affecting whole families, villages and towns as well as individuals. Spurred by this and by early press reports that miners’ wives were not supporting their striking husbands, women formed local groups to organise community kitchens, fundraising events, demonstrations and other supportive activities. These community groups coalesced into a national body called Women Against Pit Closures (WAPC), founded in Barnsley by local women including a Women’s Studies lecturer at Northern College, Jean McCrindle.

The papers of Jean McCrindle and WAPC are now available on the Women’s Library@LSE online catalogue. These include national WAPC and Barnsley branch minutes, financial records, correspondence, conference papers and administrative records; ephemera; Jean McCrindle’s personal campaign-related records including diary entries; the WAPC newsletter ‘Coalfield Woman’; and objects such as photographs, postcards and badges.

These papers illuminate the story of female involvement in the miners’ strike, and in particular illustrate not only the strike itself but also the revolutionary effect it had on women’s lives and their role in local communities. Previously mining communities had a traditional structure with women expected to centre their lives around their homes and families, but their involvement in WAPC and related miners’ support groups enabled them to learn new skills, explore new fields and develop talents in a way not previously possible.

Further LSE study resources relating to women and the Miners’ Strike

External web resources

External archival resources

Contributed by Kate Higgins (Assistant Archivist, LSE)

March is Women’s History Month and Sunday 8 March is International Women’s History Day #IWD2015



LSE 120th anniversary



Find out more about LSE’s history and join in the 120th anniversary celebrations at lse.ac.uk/lse120#LSE120

Print Friendly
Posted by: Posted on by akhtarn2 Tagged with: ,

Jul 7 2015

‘Brilliant rhetoric’ – Malcolm X at LSE, 11 February 1965

Leave a comment

This article was originally posted on the LSE History blog

On 11 February 1965 LSE’s Old Theatre was packed to listen to Malcolm X; on 21 February he was murdered while preparing to address a meeting of the Organisation for Afro-American Unity in New York.

The Beaver, 18 February 1965

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska. After a difficult and disrupted childhood Malcolm X joined the controversial black supremacist movement the Nation of Islam while he was in prison for larceny and breaking and entering. At the same time he began to use the name Malcolm X, explaining that the X represented the African family name he would never know.

Despite much searching in the LSE archives the only record of Malcolm X’s visit to come to light is a report in The Beaver published 18 February 1965. Malcolm X was invited to speak by LSE’s Africa Society although the background to the invitation is unknown. Tim Gopsill was the 20-year-old editor of The Beaver in 1965. In an interview Gopsill remembered meeting Malcolm X but not the content of the speech. He did recall that: ‘He was quite intimidating. It had something to do with his charisma. He had strength – just his presence.’

By the time Malcolm X visited LSE he had left the Nation of Islam and established a new religious movement, Muslim Mosque Inc, and a secular group, the Organisation for African-American Unity, to fight for the human rights of African Americans. A highly controversial figure, his visit to LSE has been the subject of great interest, coming so closely to his murder. According to The Beaver the speech received ‘prolonged applause’ and was well received, by many students. You can read The Beaver report on the LSE Digital Library.

The following day Malcom X visited Smethwick in Birmingham where the Conservative MP had won the seat in the previous year’s general election on a strong anti-immigration ticket. Prior to his LSE visit, in 1964 Malcolm X had taken part in a debate at the Oxford Union, losing the vote but getting a great deal of publicity. The theme of the speech was the relationship between the newly independent African states and the Black Moslem movement. You can read the surviving text of the speech.

Following Malcolm X’s death The Beaver followed up with an editorial on Malcolm X and his legacy reporting that: ‘’There is no doubt that Malcolm X was an orator and political leader of genius.” Though there would be many views on the nature and impact of his views and campaigns. The full editorial is available online.

If anyone reading this can remember the visit it would be great to hear your comments.

Contributed by Sue Donnelly (LSE Archivist)

Read the Beaver’s own commemoration here.

LSE 120th anniversaryFind out more about LSE’s history and join in the 120th anniversary celebrations at lse.ac.uk/lse120#LSE120

Print Friendly
Posted by: Posted on by akhtarn2

Jun 1 2015

Exciting events in June by LSE POWER for LSE staff

Leave a comment

Friday 5th June:  Professional Networking Skills –  Sue Tonks

(website: http://www.suetonks.co.uk/)

This event will be run in two parts.  Part 1 will run from 12.30pm to 14.00pm (with lunch) and Part 2 from 14.00pm until 16.00pm.  PLEASE NOTE:  those attending Part 2 must have attended Part 1)

Networking event (part 1), including lunch (12.30pm-14.00pm)
This consists of a ‘working the room’ practical session on arrival, as the delegates come in and have lunch. This will be a standing session of about 20 minutes as the delegates are doing what is natural, standing and chatting. This is a fun and highly informative session on how groups work, group formations, joining groups, leaving groups, joining and leaving the single person, offloading the boring person!! We will then go into to more formal part of the session, which consists of: What is Networking, Building Relationships, Creating Immediate Rapport, Asking Ice Breaker and Small Talk questions. Answering the question “What do you Do?”

Networking event (part 2) (14.00pm-16.00pm) [NB: those attending the second session must have been to part 1]
The longer session will consist of: The Networking Structure, Asking Business Related Questions, Developing the Current supplier and User Questions, Spotting the Opportunity (Ah Ha Moment), Creating the Link To Contact them, Avoiding the Gollum Moment, Preparing the Follow Up Call.

How do I book:

Part 1: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lse-power-professional-networking-skills-part-1-tickets-17073608623

Part 2: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lse-power-professional-networking-skills-part-2-tickets-17073745031

 Wednesday 10th June:  Social Media Workshop – Amy Mollett and Sonja Grussendorf

This will be held from 12.30pm to 13.30pm, but no lunch will be provided.

We will explore the opportunities for using social media in professional networking and effective communication; learn how to use social media to its fullest extent when hunting for jobs; explore how to maximise conference experiences, and consider the pros and cons of creating a “personal brand”. The workshop format will be discursive and explorative. The aim is to provide participants with the skills to make intelligent choices about a variety of platforms now and in the future, as social media brands have ‘short shelf lives’. We recommend that participants bring some mobile device to the workshop (laptop, tablet, smartphone), though it is not entirely necessary and laptops and ipads can be made available for loan for the workshop if needed.

How do I book: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lse-power-social-media-workshop-tickets-17073887457

Print Friendly
Posted by: Posted on by Equality and Diversity

Mar 20 2015

Women at the front – pioneering LSE teachers

1 Comment

This article was originally posted on the LSE History blog.

LSE accepted women students from its earliest days. For Women’s History Month we take a look at the women who stood at the front of the classroom during the early years of the School.

Gertrude Tuckwell

Gertrude Tuckwell

The first woman to appear in the list of teachers in the LSE Calendar is Gertrude Tuckwell in the School’s second year. Gertrude Tuckwell (1861-1951) gave six lectures in the Lent term on factory legislation. Gertrude (1861-1951) initially trained as a teacher but through the influence of her aunt Emilia Francis, wife of the liberal politician Charles Dilke, from 1893 she had become deeply committed to women’s trade unionism and employment rights. In 1905 Tuckwell would become President of the Women’s Trade Union League and also sat on the executive committee of the International Association for Labour Legislation, founding the British section along with Sidney Webb.

 Ellen MacArthur

In 1897-1898 two women appeared as teachers who were both linked with Girton College, Cambridge. In Lent Term Miss E A MacArthur, Head Lecturer, Girton College, lectured on The Development of the Office of Justice of the Peace, with special reference to its Economic Functions. Ellen MacArthur took a first class honours in the Cambridge History Tripos in 1885 and taught history at Girton from 1886 becoming principal history teacher from 1896-1907. From 1907-1911 she was also Head of the History Department at Westfield College, standing in for another Girton College and LSE student, Caroline Skeel. MacArthur was an active supporter of women’s suffrage sitting on the executive committee of National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies in 1910.

Lilian Knowles (nee Tomn)

Lilian Knowles

Less well-known at the time was Lilian Tomn, then a research student at LSE, who gave three lectures on The Referendum. She had recently edited a translation of a book by Simon Deploige, The Referendum in Switzerland, about the use of the referendum in Swiss democracy. Lilian Tomn reappears in the Calendar as a Lecturer in Economic History in 1903. She married a fellow LSE student Charles Knowles and they had a son. At LSE this did not prevent her becoming the first female Professor of Economic History in the country in 1921. Lilian Knowles was an advocate of equal pay and employment rights and waged a long campaign with the LSE administration about her own pay and conditions. It is likely that Knowles and MacArthur were recommended to the LSE Director by the economic historian William Cunningham, an early supporter of Cambridge education for women and an intermittent occasional lecturer at LSE from 1895-1915.

Beatrice Hewart

In 1898-1899 only Ellen MacArthur is listed as a teacher but in 1899-1900 two new names appeared. Miss A Hewart gave three lectures on Friday evenings at 7pm from 20 October. The Regulation of Industry in the North of England covered the growth of the textile trade during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the imposition and enforcement of legislation. Sadly little is known of Beatrice Hewart who had been an undergraduate at Aberystwyth University and in 1898 published The Wages of London Vestry Employees in the Economic Journal, but she is also listed as the recipient of a research studentship.

Beatrice Webb

Beatrice Webb, c1900

The second name was that of LSE founder Beatrice Webb, or as she was listed, Mrs Sidney Webb. For the next two years Thursdays at 5pm were Beatrice’s regular teaching slot. In 1898-1899 she taught on Problems of Trade Unionism and Factory Legislation and in 1899-1900 delivered a course on free competition in the labour market. Both courses were inspired by the Webbs’ research into the history of trade unionism and the text course books included their History of Trade Unionism andIndustrial Democracy copies of which were placed in the Student Lending Library for the special use of students on the course. Beatrice who had received little formal education and certainly no degree must have been happy to lecture and prove her expertise. After the lecture Beatrice and Sidney would go up to the top floor flat occupied by Charlotte and Bernard Shaw for dinner.

On October 30 1899 she wrote in her diary:

“I enjoy lecturing every Thursday: the preparation of my lecture takes the best part of two mornings either in actual preparation or in resting so that my brain may be clear. The weekly class brings us into close connection with the work of the School: I see some half dozen students every week and talk over their work with them.”

In time these women were joined by others including Mrs HAL (Lettice) Fisher in Social Science and Administration and the Fabian Mabel Atkinson, lecturing on public administration.

For many years women were only a small percentage of the teaching staff and often concentrated in particular departments including Economic History and Social Science and Administration. However LSE was progressive in allowing married women and mothers to continue to teach and undertake research.

There are more stories to be told about these pioneering women.

Contributed by Sue Donnelly (LSE Archivist) 

LSE 120th anniversary

Find out more about LSE’s history and join in the 120th anniversary celebrations at lse.ac.uk/lse120#LSE120


Gertude Mary Tuckwell by Bassano Ltd from http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw114338/Gertrude-Mary-Tuckwell?

Lilian Knowles from LSE archives

Beatrice Webb from LSE Library Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/lselibrary/sets/

Print Friendly
Posted by: Posted on by Equality and Diversity Tagged with: , ,

Mar 12 2015

The Audacity of Race: How colour-blind are our ‘seats of learning’?

Leave a comment

Monday 16 March, 12.30pm
Book a place here – https://apps.lse.ac.uk/training-system/userBooking/course/7448681

Following on from our discussion last term where we explored the lived experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) academic and professional services staff in Higher Education, the second part of our conversation series will focus on the discourses of identity related to the career trajectories of BME academics in the UK. We will also take a closer look at the impact of the lack of the ‘visible minority’ on the BME student experience. Our confirmed panel of speakers for this event includes:

  • Dr Kalwant Bhopal, Reader in Education at Southampton University and author of the Leadership Foundation report ‘The experience of BME academics in higher education: aspirations in the face of inequality.’
  • Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard, Head of Research for the Runnymede Trust.  The Trust has recently produced the report ‘Aiming Higher: Race, Inequality and Diversity in the Academy’.

The session will be facilitated by Carolyn Solomon-Pryce, Equality and Diversity Manager and Dr Ohemaa Nkansa-Dwamena, Student Counsellor.

We would find it helpful if attendees considered the following reports and formulated questions in advance of the session: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/364309/ and http://www.runnymedetrust.org/uploads/Aiming%20Higher.pdf

There will be a sandwich lunch provided prior to a prompt start at 12.30.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Print Friendly
Posted by: Posted on by Equality and Diversity

Mar 2 2015

Beatrice Webb – the early years

Leave a comment

March is Women’s History Month. Let’s take this opportunity to find out more about Beatrice Webb – the only woman among the four co-founders of LSE.

This post was originally published on the LSE History blog.

“The early spring months have always been sweet at Standish and the loveliest memories of my childhood gather round the first long days, when the dreary walks along the muddy roads directly after the midday meal, were replaced by the scramble among hyacinths and ferns, the gathering of primroses and violets and the building of grottoes in the hours of sunset and dusk.”

Beatrice Webb c1875

In 1884 Beatrice recalled her childhood at Standish House, Gloucestershire, where she was born on 22 January 1858. It was a period of her life about which she had decidedly mixed feelings.

Beatrice was the eighth daughter of Richard and Lawrencina Potter. Richard was a businessman,  involved in the delivery of prefabricated huts to the army during the Crimean War and in 1849 he joined the board of the Great Western Railway and later the West Midland Railway. He also had interests in railways in North America. His father, Richard Potter, was a wealthy businessman who became a radical, non-conformist MP for Wigan and supported the foundation of the Manchester Guardian. Lawrencina was the daughter of Liverpool merchant, Lawrence Heyworth who was born in Bacup, Lancashire, and built up a successful business trading with South America.

Beatrice’s birth was followed in 1862 by the birth of a long awaited son, Richard, and by a ninth daughter, Rosalind in 1864. Richard’s death in 1864 and her mother’s grief overshadowed Beatrice’s childhood and adolescence.

Beatrice Webb had no formal education but Richard Potter encouraged his daughters to read widely. They experienced the London Season and mingled with the family’s friends, including the philosopher Herbert Spencer who advised Beatrice on her reading. When he visited North America on business Richard Potter usually took two of his daughters with him. In 1873 Beatrice joined him on a trip which included visiting New York, Niagara Falls, Chicago and Salt Lake City and began to regularly keep the diary she was to continue until the end of her life.

Beatrice and Sidney Webb c1895

On the death of her mother in 1882, Beatrice Webb as the eldest unmarried daughter undertook the management of the household for the following ten years until her father’s death. At the same time the support of her sisters allowed her to organise four months of the year to undertake her own work beginning her interest in research and social investigation. This included an incognito visit to Bacup to visit her mother’s family, working as a rent collector in Katherine Buildings in the East End and undertaking research for Charles Booth’s Inquiry into London Life and Labour.

In 1883 Beatrice became infatuated with the radical politician Joseph Chamberlain, but it was not a match which would have enabled her own work. By 1888 Chamberlain had married elsewhere and in January 1890 Beatrice met Sidney Webb and with a courtship of fits and starts began a partnership of over fifty years whose fruits would include the founding of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

As she wrote in 1936:

“In old age it is one of the minor satisfactions of life to watch the success of your children, literal children or symbolic. The London School of Economics is undoubtedly our most famous one; ….”

Contributed by Sue Donnelly (LSE Archivist)

Read more about Beatrice and Sidney Webb in LSE’s digital archive, Webbs on the Web.

LSE 120th anniversary

Find out more about LSE’s history and join in the 120th anniversary celebrations at lse.ac.uk/lse120. #LSE120

Print Friendly
Posted by: Posted on by Equality and Diversity Tagged with: , ,

Feb 11 2015

LGBT History Month at LSE

Leave a comment

Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender History Month takes place across the UK every year in February. It celebrates the lives and achievements of the LGBT community. LSE Spectrum (@LSESpectrum), the LSE network for LGBT staff has the following events taking place later this month: 

A Night at the Movies with Spectrum!

Double Bill: ‘Paris is Burning’ and ‘Talking Transgender’

Date: Wednesday 18 February
Time: 6-8pm
Venue: 32L.LG.18, 32 Lincoln’s Inn Fields

Drinks and snacks provided.

paris-is-burning-posterParis Is Burning is a 1990 American documentary film directed by Jennie Livingston. Filmed in the mid-to-late 1980s, it chronicles the ball culture of New York City and the African-American, Latino, gay, and transgender communities involved in it. The film is considered to be an invaluable documentary of the end of the “Golden Age” of New York City drag balls, and critics have praised it as a thoughtful exploration of race, class, gender, and sexuality in America. Running time: 76min approx.

Talking Transgender introduces a group of transgender individuals who candidly share their personal stores with compassion, honesty and humour, to widen knowledge, to increase understanding and to promote an awareness of transgender issues. Running time: 26min approx.

To register: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/a-night-at-the-movies-with-spectrum-double-bill-paris-is-burning-and-talking-transgender-tickets-15710343059

LSE Spectrum Literary Festival lecture

A Little Gay History

Date: Monday 23 February 2015
Time: 1-2pm
Venue: NAB 2.04, New Academic Building

Speaker: Professor Richard Parkinson
Chair: Sue Donnelly

Spectrum1Richard Parkinson will present a ground-breaking LGBT history project by the British Museum, drawing on objects ranging from ancient Egyptian papyri to images by modern artists such as David Hockney and films such as James Ivory’s Maurice, to discuss how and why museums should represent same-sex experiences as integral parts of world culture.

Richard Parkinson is Professor of Egyptology at the University of Oxford and was previously a curator at the British Museum. He is a specialist in Ancient Egyptian poetry of the classic period. Sue Donnelly is LSE Archivist.

All events in the Literary Festival are free to attend and open to all. E-tickets can available be booked online via LSE E Shop.

Print Friendly
Posted by: Posted on by Equality and Diversity Tagged with:

Feb 6 2015

LGBT History Month – the Spectrum story

1 Comment

This is an extract from a blog post that was originally published on the LSE History blog.

Spectrum at LSE

LSE Spectrum logo

Spectrum is the LSE LGBT+ staff network for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans(gender) people. (The + relates to other sexual and gender identities: e.g. pansexual, asexual, intersex, polysexual etc.).

The network was formed in May 2008 by a small group of LGBT+ staff, led primarily by Sarah Bailey, Chris Connelly and Gillian Urquhart, who became the first Chair. Sarah organised an LGBT tea and cakes event in the East Building, paid for by the then Staff Development Unit. Thirteen staff members attended and discussed whether there was a need for a staff network at LSE – the answer was yes. A common theme was the need for support; for many, feeling unable to be out in the workplace meant they couldn’t engage with colleagues equally and participate in basic social conversations while at work.

The group decided upon aims and objectives early on: to promote the interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender staff and to give them a stronger sense of visibility and presence in all aspects of School life. Spectrum met monthly, but the perceived stigma around being an LGBT staff network meant that the group weren’t initially sure if they could even use LSE meeting rooms or advertise in staff newsletters.

The network grew slowly but steadily and LSE’s then Director Howard Davies spoke at the launch event, which was held in the Shaw Library in May 2009. In the same month, Spectrum commemorated International Day Against Homophobia (known as IDAHOT – now including Transphobia and Biphobia) by organising an incredibly bold same-sex hand-holding event on Houghton Street and Spectrum leafleting on Houghton Street and the Senior Dining Room.

Staff needed Spectrum in 2008 and they need it today. Over the past seven years, Spectrum has grown into an active and influential network, co-hosting sell-out public events with academic departments on marriage equality and LGBT human rights in Russia, whilst working behind the scenes with School governance to address more systemic barriers to inclusion for LGBT+ staff and students. Spectrum has played a key role in the School’s participation in the Stonewall Diversity Champions nationwide network, and continues to work with Stonewall to improve policy and strategy to better include people who are LGBT+.

Barriers to inclusion and equality persist at LSE, just as with society at large. As Spectrum looks forward, challenging these barriers and maintaining a firm LGBT+ voice at the heart of the School community remains paramount to our aims.

Spectrum is always keen to engage with LGBT+ members of the School as well as those who support LGBT+ issues. Email spectrum@lse.ac.uk to be added to our mailing list, where you can keep up to date with what is going on in Spectrum. Also, visit our website lse.ac.uk/spectrum or follow @LSESpectrum on Twitter.

Contributed by James Deeley (Spectrum Chair, LSE) and Gillian Urquhart (Spectrum founder member, LSE)

Print Friendly
Posted by: Posted on by Equality and Diversity Tagged with: , , ,

Jan 28 2015

Arthur Lewis – LSE’s first black academic

1 Comment

Arthur Lewis was the first black academic at LSE. At a time when UK higher education is starting to think about the lack of black people in academia, Sue Donnelly looks back at Arthur Lewis’ life and hurdles at the time.

This post was originally published on the LSE History Blog.

Arthur Lewis

Arthur Lewis

23 January 2015 marks the centenary of the birth of the Nobel Prize winning economist, William Arthur Lewis (1915-1991) – whose appointment in 1938 to a one year teaching contract, later converted to a four year appointment, makes him LSE’s first black academic.

Lewis was born in St Lucia and left school at 14 after completing the curriculum, working as a clerk in the civil service. Lewis’s ambition was to be an engineer, but aware that neither the government nor white businesses would employ a black engineer he decided on a career in business and planned to study business administration.  In 1932 Lewis won a government scholarship to study in Britain and in 1933 arrived at LSE to study for the B.Commerce degree.

LSE’S B.Commerce degree started in 1919 and students studied economic theory and economic history alongside statistics, accounting, commercial law and elements of geography. The course was taught by LSE luminaries such as Lionel Robbins, Friedrich Hayek, John Hicks and Arnold Plant who was Professor of Commerce.  Plant, who had taught in South Africa, was interested in the economic impact of racial discrimination particularly on the labour market, and was supportive of Lewis throughout his time at LSE. In his Nobel Prize biography Lewis called his studies at LSE “marvellous intellectual feasts”. In 1938 Lewis obtained at first class degree and obtained a scholarship to begin a PhD. His thesis The Economics of Loyalty Contracts was completed in 1940.

Although academic life was successful Lewis later recalled that he was “subjected to all the usual disabilities – refusal of accommodation, denial of jobs for which he had been recommended, generalised discourtesy and the rest”. In 1937, despite his first class degree, he was rejected by the Colonial Services for a post as an administrator in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Ironically by 1941 he was undertaking research for the Colonial Office.

Lewis’s appointment to a temporary assistant lectureship in 1938 reflected this ambivalence. Although the decision to appoint Lewis was unanimous the LSE Director, Alexander Carr-Saunders felt the need to restrict his teaching and explain the appointment to the Court of Governors:

LSE students Grove Lodge, Cambridge

LSE students at Grove Lodge, Cambridge

“He would therefore not see students individually but in groups. The Appointments Committee is, as I said, quite unanimous but recognise that the appointment of a coloured man may possibly be open to some criticism. Normally, such appointments do not require the confirmation of the Governors but on this occasion I said that I should before taking any action submit the matter to you.”

This did not prevent Hayek describing Lewis as one “one of our best teachers”. During LSE’s evacuation to Cambridge during the Second World War as one of the few teachers not called up for civil or war service, Lewis undertook a heavy burden of teaching – particularly as his classes contained both LSE and Cambridge students. The 1942-1943 LSE Calendar records that Lewis was teaching transport economics, and business economics alongside an elements of economics course which included money, banking and international trade. In 1944 colonial economics was added to the list and in 1947 Lewis was appointed Reader in Colonial Economics.

Alongside this heavy teaching load Lewis was also working for the Colonial Office after being recommended by LSE as “the most suitable member of staff”  to undertake a report on the financing of mining and industrial development in the colonies. Some Aspects of the Flow of Capital into the British Colonies was published in 1942 and was followed by further reports and Lewis’ appointment as secretary to the newly formed Colonial Economic Advisory Committee (CEAC). Lewis’ desire to set economic research in the context of the wider needs of Britain’s colonies often conflicted with the Colonial Office’s narrow technocratic agenda and Lewis’s 1944 resignation letter described his time as secretary as “largely a waste of time” – but it helped in defining his views on development economics.

In 1948 Lewis joined Manchester University as a full professor, leaving in 1957 to advise the government of newly independent Ghana. He was Principal of University College of the West Indies becoming the first Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies. He was knighted in 1963 and from 1963-1983 held a professorship at Princeton University. He also headed up the Caribbean Development Bank.

In 1979 Sir Arthur Lewis was awarded the Nobel Prize for economics for “pioneering research into economic development research with particular consideration of the problems of developing countries”. He died in Bridgetown, Barbados, in 1991.

Sue Donnelly is the Archivist at LSE.

Print Friendly
Posted by: Posted on by Equality and Diversity Tagged with: , , ,