Complaints Procedures Working Group

At its Trinity Term 2021 meeting, the History Faculty Equality and Diversity Committee agreed to establish a working group to review complaints procedures in the Faculty. It responds in part to data deriving from surveys carried out in 2018 for Athena-SWAN and from the 2021 Race Equality Action Group survey highlighting concerns around the complaints process. The Working Group met over the summer and was expanded in Michaelmas Term 2021.  The group will review the Faculty’s processes, as they are set-out under University policy, as well as researching examples of best practice at other institutions. It will make recommendations to the Faculty in Hilary Term. The current members of the working group are:

  • Dr Christina de Bellaigue, Vice-Chair of the History Faculty and convenor of the working group
  • Dr Cheryl Birdseye, Faculty Administrative Staff Representative & providing administrative support
  • Dr Stephanie Cavanaugh, ECR Representative
  • Oxford History Graduate Network Representative
  • 2 Undergraduate Representatives
  • 2 Postgraduate Representatives
  • Dr Conrad Leyser, Harassment Officer and Athena-SWAN Coordinator
  • Dr Sloan Mahone, Harassment Officer
  • Isabelle Pitt, Humanities Division Equality and Diversity Officer
  • Dr Hannah Skoda, Athena-SWAN Coordinator

We welcome suggestions and input from all members of the History Faculty – undergraduates, graduates, ECRs, professional and support staff, lecturers and postholders. Please do not hesitate to email if you wish to comment or have questions.

Outline of the process of reforming harassment policies and complaints procedures

The History Faculty CPWG will meet regularly from the end of MT2021 with a view to presenting a full report and recommendations to the History Faculty Board at the end of HT2022. The CPWG can make recommendations as to the following:

  • Suggestions of practical measures to improve access to information about harassment and complaints procedures for Faculty members
  • Suggestions of practical measures to embed a culture of no-tolerance of harassment and bullying in the History Faculty
  • Recommendations for changes and improvements to University Policies and Procedures to put to the Humanities Division, to Senior University Bodies, and to the University project underway to review harassment policies and procedures.

A review of current policy and responses to harassment is currently underway at University level, led by the Head of the University’s Equality and Diversity Unit and the Head of Human Resources Policy.

The History Faculty will draw on the report of the CPWG to make recommendations to this review for the improvement of harassment policies and procedures. Representatives from the Faculty will also make representations to the relevant University committees and officers which have oversight over policy and/or the authority to change University-level policy and procedures (which may include Trade Union Representatives, Education Committee, Personnel Committee, Senior Tutors’ Committee, the Conference of Colleges, University Council, and Congregation).

Update on the activities of the CPWG

The full CPWG met for the first time on Tuesday 30th November. It discussed the objectives and schedule of the project and proposed four measures for consideration at the next meeting of the Faculty Board (on Thursday 2nd December). Full minutes of the meeting are available on request to

The four measures proposed by the CPWG were approved by Faculty Board and are currently being put in place:

  1. Expanding the information about harassment support displayed in the Faculty by including QR codes that link to the relevant Faculty webpages and ensuring that this information is displayed in toilet cubicles in the History Faculty and History Faculty Library.
  • These posters are now displayed in toilet cubicles, when the website has been updated, the posters will be replaced with new versions including the relevant QR codes
  1. Expanded training and information about harassment for Faculty Officers.
  • The Humanities Divisions Equality & Diversity Officer will briefed all members of the Faculty Board about harassment policy and complaints procedures at its next meeting on Thursday of week 2 of Hilary Term (27th January)
  • Planning is underway for a training session reflecting on a range of equality and diversity issues will be arranged for Faculty members, potentially in collaboration with another Faculty from the Humanities Division.
  1. Expanded training and information about harassments for those training for teaching through the History Faculty.
  • All candidates for the Faculty Preparing for Learning and Teaching at Oxford (PLTO) course, required for any graduate student proposing to offer tutorials, were invited to attend a special online workshop on equality and diversity in teaching practice and on handling issues around harassment on Wednesday 26 January, 2.15-3.45 (week 2)
  • A similar session will be offered to ECR Teaching Associates during the course of Trinity Term
  1. Harassment and Complaints issues have been added as a standing item on the Equalities Working Groups, Equality and Diversity Committee, and Faculty Board

The CPWG presented a full report with recommendations for action at Faculty, Divisional and University level to the second History Faculty Board meeting of Hilary Term on 10 March 2022. This report is available to read here.

The History Faculty approved the report of the CPWG and agreed to facilitate the implementation of actions recommended at Faculty level. It also endorsed the recommendations for action at Divisional and University level; members of the CPWG will now share the report and its recommendations with the relevant University committees and officers which have oversight over policy and/or the authority to change University-level policy and procedures.