Woke university issued warning inclusivity policy risks breaking law

Woke university issued warning inclusivity policy risks breaking law

Watch: Anti-woke course launched at University of Buckingham combats 'distortion of academia'

GB News
James Saunders

By James Saunders

Published: 21/04/2024

- 17:58

The policy was slammed by barrister Akua Reindorf KC who said it was 'partisan and ideological in nature'

A London university has been told one of its in-house employment policies which covers staff seeking promotion could risk breaking the law.

King's College London (KCL) asks academics applying to be professors or readers to provide evidence that they "create an inclusive environment where colleagues are valued and able to succeed".

The university details attributes which may contribute to fostering any kind of "inclusive environment", including "educating yourself about issues of equality, diversity and inclusion and how exclusion occurs".

The requirements have been panned by Sex Matters, a "human-rights charity" which campaigns on trans issues; the group said it had been approached by Dr John Armstrong, a member of KCL staff eyeing up a promotion, who claimed his disagreements with "ideas about sex and gender" would "count against him".

Trans flag/KCL sign

A KCL spokesman said the university was "proud of the work we've done to build an inclusive atmosphere on campus"


Sex Matters said its analysis suggested the policy was "unlawful in several respects", and brought in a barrister, Akua Reindorf KC, to provide a legal opinion.

The organisation said Reindorf "concluded that the policy was likely to constitute unlawful discrimination on grounds of gender-critical belief, and that it would also be likely to contravene the new law on academic freedom due to come into force in August".

Reindorf added that she believed it was "strongly arguable that KCL's approach to EDI [Equality, Diversity and Inclusion] in respect of sex and gender conflicts with and/or actively contradicts the law in certain key respects, and that it is partisan and ideological in nature".

The barrister added that the requirements placed people with "gender-critical beliefs" at a "particular disadvantage" during applications.


Sex Matters campaign statement

Sex Matters called on KCL to commit to "ending unlawful discrimination against staff with gender-critical views"

Sex Matters

Sex Matters called on the university to "commit to an immediate and full review of its hiring and promotion criteria [and] its EDI policies", as well as to "ending unlawful discrimination against staff with gender-critical views".

In response to the calls, a KCL spokesman said: "We're proud of the work we've done to build an inclusive atmosphere on campus in collaboration with our staff networks and EDI experts.

"Academic staff applying for promotion choose how they provide evidence to support their individual applications against a range of specific criteria, in line with employment and higher education regulations.

"We regularly review all university policies to ensure compliance with changing laws."

The Russell Group university has come under fire from gender-critical voices before - last year, a report in the Telegraph highlighted that KCL had told staff that supporting LGBT charity Stonewall could also help them in their promotion efforts.

The charity has drawn criticism for its stance on trans issues like gender-neutral language and pronouns - and had given King's College a "gold award" in 2022 as part of its "Workplace Index" scheme which ranks employers on inclusivity.

Dr Armstrong had claimed at the time: "We are being told that if we campaign on Stonewall’s behalf it will help with promotion."

But KCL hit back, saying: "Academic freedom is fundamental to King's success and is underpinned by the Freedom of Expression Standing Advisory Group, who ensure that freedom of expression in our academic and student community is fully supported."

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