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Refreshments will be provided on the concourse outside the lecture theatre at 1.30pm and the lecture will also be streamed in the Haldane Lecture Theatre at Silwood Campus.

One Size Does Not Fit All: How to make equality, diversity, inclusion and university life work together

At the present time, we seem to be witnessing an important shift. The gender pay gap has lessened for women in their early 20s and Oxbridge admissions are higher than ever for young women. But the choices women make during their study, work and family lives still lead to inequality to disparity. Indeed, when this is looked at in detail, different women are still experiencing varying opportunities and challenges. The same applies to people more broadly because of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious belief, disability and caring status. How can all these elements come together and be seen as a strength rather than a daily battle? How can employers empower staff to produce a societal shift? How can the mainstream majority – yes guys, that’s you – be recruited to constructively disrupt the system? My talk will explore the responsibilities for change at the level of the individual and the collective, and explore some of the small steps that can bring about positive change for all.

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Leyla Okhai heads the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Centre at Imperial College London, where she is in charge of overall strategy and managing a team of staff working on various projects and initiatives. In this role she is also responsible for developing the College’s working relationships with Stonewall, Race for Opportunity, Business Disability Forum, Purple Space and WISE. She was shortlisted for the Race for Opportunity 2014 award in Race Equality: Transparency, Monitoring and Action category.

Leyla has over fourteen years’ experience in developing and implementing diversity, inclusion and equality practices, primarily by working closely with senior leadership teams. She has been responsible for embedding culture change – and not just at Imperial. Before joining the College, Leyla worked at the University of Oxford for over six years, firstly in student recruitment, specialising in increasing applications from underrepresented BAME young people. She went on to pioneer innovative race and religious belief equality initiatives at Oxford’s Equality and Diversity Unit from 2008-2012.

Her work to develop the College’s bespoke disabled and BAME leadership programmes have resulted in increased talent retention and income generation. As a trained coach and mediator a major focus of her role is to help staff navigate institutional boundaries and ensure they reach their full potential. Leyla has also spoken regularly on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, and delivered training programmes and workshops these issues in the HE and private sectors.