School of Biological and Marine Sciences EDI workshop summary

Our first equality, diversity and inclusion workshop was held on 12 December 2023

As part of a drive to make the School of Biological and Marine Sciences as inclusive as possible, and to help explore new ways of doing so, the school piloted a staff Equality, Diversity and Inclusion workshop on 12 December 2023, with Emma Brown (Source Coaching) and the Leadership Forum Theatre. There were 48 attendees in total: 35 SoBMS staff, 11 facilitators and 2 guests from other areas of the University. 
The workshop aimed to raise awareness and discussion of non-inclusive and unconscious behaviours and attitudes that demonstrate personal power and role power dynamics that can be a catalyst for exclusivity. The Leadership Forum Theatre acted out fictional scenarios which were based on real experiences of staff in the school such as excluding people from inputting on decisions, making assumptions, belittling or diminishing lived experience, lack of awareness of power and non-inclusive or thoughtless language. Trained internal facilitators led group discussions on mixed tables to explore these scenarios further before feeding back to the room. Staff were asked what behaviours they would like to stop, keep and start within the school; these staff-generated outputs will be used to determine actions and next steps. 
Feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive and therefore we would like to celebrate the success of the workshop and highlight other initiatives such as the Women into Leadership programme which are stepping stones on the school’s journey to being more inclusive. 

Many thanks to everyone who attended and participated in our recent EDI Staff workshop. I particularly want to acknowledge those who led, facilitated and made the day happen.

As Head of School, I was very pleased with the way the workshop went. And from the feedback we received so were the folk who were there. This was an excellent start to what I envisage as a series of such workshops.I believe these workshops have a key role in helping us embed EDI within the culture of our school, to make it an even better place to work and study.
I strongly encourage staff to get the workshop dates in their diaries when they are announced – and that will be soon. If you weren’t able to be there last month, make sure you read the account below – it should give you a taste of what we did and what has happened as a result.

Richard PreziosiRichard Preziosi
Head of School


Outputs from the session

The stop, keep, start behaviours from each workshop group have been collated and grouped together. 


  • making assumptions 
  • pigeonholing people into groups
  • having an ‘us’ and ‘them’ attitude
  • viewing EDI as separate
  • microaggressions.


  • opportunities for informal interactions across the school
  • EDI newsletter
  • lunches with Richard (open these to all staff roles)
  • consulting and communicating decisions 
  • the ethos of everyone being valued
  • activities such as this workshop 
  • employing friendly/open people
  • informal discussion groups (make these mixed)
  • discussion groups
  • space for reflection.


  • create ground rules for meetings
  • opportunities for cross-group/role/faculty interactions
  • communal spaces in different buildings
  • supervision
  • integrate technical team
  • more engagement from senior staff with junior staff
  • reinforce positive behaviour
  • better in person induction
  • training for managers
  • more time allowance for management
  • invest in recruiting empathetic staff
  • being an active bystander
  • integrate EDI in meetings. 

Attendee feedback

We have received fantastic verbal feedback from staff. Only 8 SoBMS attendees and 3 facilitators completed the survey, however, the results are overwhelmingly positive.
  • 100% agree the workshop was organised well and 90% agree it was communicated well to staff. 
  • 91% agree the workshop was interesting and engaging and that the forum theatre performances helped them better understand non-inclusive behaviours and unconscious bias. 
  • 73% agreed that their understanding of inclusive behaviours has improved. 
  • 91% agreed the workshop was worthwhile.

Staff responses

Which aspects of the workshop did you find particularly valuable?
  1. Having facilitated discussions – hearing different perspectives.
  2. Benefits of forum theatre piece – clear examples, able to think subjectively, engaging.
  3. Allocated tables – interact with staff from across the school.
How will the knowledge you have learnt benefit you in the workplace?
  1. Increased self-awareness – of own actions, biases, behaviours etc. and the impact these can have. 
  2. Speaking up – challenge non-inclusive behaviour/language, how to intervene as a bystander.
  3. Empowered – continue to discuss these issues and learn more.
Are there any aspects of the workshop which you feel require improvement?
  1. More staff attendance 
  2. Timing – felt a bit rushed, didn’t cover all the content, could have been an all-day workshop.
  3. Not much focus on EDI – only had time to focus on certain areas, focus on poor behaviour rather than inclusivity.
  4. Staff struggle to have difficult conversations.

What have we already done?

Our next steps 

  • SoBMS EDIC and Marine Biology group to pilot ground rules document in committee meetings, these will be made available on SharePoint and SoBMS EDI webpage.
  • Organise a workshop for staff which focuses on difficult conversations, psychological safety and being an active bystander to be delivered in the Summer.
  • Future workshops will have more emphasis on how the content relates to EDI and more explanation as to why the workshop is being held.
  • Explore more opportunities for staff to meet socially cross-role and cross-faculty.
  • Review staff induction process.
  • Share the outputs and next steps with all staff in the school through EDI newsletter and SoBMS EDI webpage.
  • Debrief meeting with facilitators.