UCU equality banner


UCU has put equality at the heart of its activities on behalf of its members.

Some UCU branches/local associations (LAs) have equality officers who can assist you if you have any concerns on an equality-related issue. Otherwise your UCU departmental rep or other branch/LA officer will be able to help. To find out if there is an equality officer at your branch and how to contact them ask your departmental rep or branch/LA secretary/president. If you don't know how to contact any local UCU representative contact your regional office. The local contact finder will tell you the relevant regional office for your institution.

Equality and participation unit

UCU has a national team of staff with expertise and involvement in the whole equality agenda. They implement the policies and priorities determined by members through the democratic lay structures'.

  • Helen Carr - National Head of Equality and Participation (and responsibility for disability issues)
  • Seth Atkin - Equality Support Official with specialism for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans equality and age equality
  • Charlotte Nielsen - Equality Support Official with specialism for gender
  • Chris Nicholas - Equality Support Official with specialism for race and religion or belief
  • Sharon Russell - Equality Officer
  • Swati Patel - Administrator

If you have a general equality query, or to join one of our equality network mailing lists (LGBT, disabled members, women & black members) contact eqadmin@ucu.org.uk

If you think you might be interested in becoming a UCU equality officer you can find out more about what is involved on the Equality reps page.

Latest Equality News


May 2016 edition   New

In this edition:

  1. Equality chartermarks
  2. UCU Gender Pay Campaign
  3. Gender Identity Equality
  4. Sexual harassment at work
  5. Changes to Tier 2 Visa
  6. Black Members Network
  7. Day of Action Against Racism
  8. UCU LGBT Research conferences
  9. Training, Publication & Events

  Equality Newsletter May 2016 [294kb]      Equality Newsletter May 2016 [351kb]

About UCU's equality work

There are advice leaflets for members on various types of discrimination, bullying and harassment in the getting support section of this website.

Resources and guidance for UCU equality officers and activists can be found at Campaigning for equality 
Equality advice and guidance
Equality research and policy

If you have a general equality query, contact eqadmin@ucu.org.uk

UCU has negotiated national equality agreements in both HE and FE (see pay and conditions section) which branches/LAs strive to get implemented locally. The national equality unit (see above) supports branches/LAs and regional offices on equality issues and work to influence government policy on equality.

The union provides many opportunities for members to become involved in our equality work. UCU organises events specifically for black, disabled, LGBT and women members. We also have email lists for each of these groups which you can join by emailing eqadmin@ucu.org.uk.

Helping out at a local level is a great way to promote equality at your workplace - you don't necessarily need to become an equality officer, just an offer to circulate newsletters or put up posters for example will be appreciated. See How do I get involved? for more information. If you do think you might be interested in becoming a UCU equality officer you can find out more about what is involved on the Equality reps page.

UCU policy on equality is determined democratically by our members,

While our prime concern is to fight for greater equality at work, we also strive to campaign against injustices members face in other areas of their lives, whether on grounds of sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or belief, age or any other aspect of identity which can lead to discrimination.


If you are experiencing discrimination or harassment at work see the Equality advice and guidance for advice on getting support.

A woman's place is in the union Getting involved

The UCU Equality Conference is held each year in November/December. The current format is for the conference to include four separate sessions for Black members; Disabled members, LGBT members and Women members. During those sessions, the Conference will elect members to the four national equality standing committees. These are:

  • Black Members Standing Committee (BMSC)
  • Disabled Members Standing Committee (DMSC)
  • LGBT Members Standing Committee (LGBTMSC)
  • Women Members Standing Committee (WMSC)

There are 12 members of the BMSC, DMSC and LGBTMSC and 15 members of the WMSC.

The main objectives of each Committee is to advise and make recommendations to the National Executive Committee of the union on issues specific to the members whom they represent.

For example:

  • The BMSC is advising the NEC on actions and initiatives that will ensure Black members are visible in all aspects of the union's work including establishing regional networks.
  • The DMSC has advised the NEC on reasonable adjustments at work for disabled workers
  • The LGBTMSC has advised the NEC on the issues for LGBT staff working abroad.
  • The WMSC is advising the NEC on the impact of sexual harassment at work

The Committees also plan the agenda for their conference every year and also participate in the TUC National Equality conferences. The Committees can also put motions to Congress and the sector conferences which ensures the issues facing equality groups are visible in our core campaigns and policies. Members of the Committees are also encouraged to participate in their branches and regions so equality knowledge and expertise is shared across the union.

To be on the Committees, you must self-identify as belonging to that equality group. For example, to be on the DMSC, you must self-identify as a disabled worker. All levels of experience of being active in the union are welcome as the Committees provide support and guidance to all members, working together collectively.

To find out more, please contact a member of the Equality and Participation team who would be happy to speak to you. Please email: eqadmin@ucuc.org.uk

The annual young members' conference is open to any member aged 35 or under. The conference does not have decision making powers and is non-resolutionary but aims to bring younger members together and showcase campaign work and resources available. For further information contact Patrick Moule PMoule@ucu.org.uk

National Executive Committee

Women members

There are a minimum number of NEC seats that must be filled by women. The total number of seats a geographical constituency has on the NEC depends on its size, but of these at least one quarter to one third must be filled by women. This quota also applies to the UK-elected HE and FE seats. Of the eleven equality seats on the NEC elected directly by all members, three of these seats are for representatives of women in HE, and two for women in FE.

LGBT members

There are eleven equality seats on the NEC, two of which are for representatives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members, one from further education and one from higher education.

Black members

Of the eleven equality seats on the NEC, two are for representatives of black members, one of which must be a woman.

Disabled members

Of the eleven equality seats on the NEC, two of these are for representatives of disabled members. One must be from further education and one must be from higher education.