What does leadership mean to you? | Lurraine Jones
The challenges for leaders in Higher Education are many and ever-changing, as the past few years dealing with the pandemic and the current preoccupation with artificial intelligence illustrate.
The murder of George Floyd and COVID-19 shone a stark light on racism and the health and wider inequalities that persist in society, with the disproportionate impact on those who already face disadvantage and discrimination.
Calls for curriculum decolonisation in such as ‘Rhodes Must Fall’, ‘Why is My Curriculum White?, ‘Why Isn’t My Professor Black?’ along with the Black Lives Matter movement has helped unveil the long-standing inequalities present in Higher Education.
Successful leadership in Higher Education today requires critical thinking about inequality and oppression to combat systemic and institutional discrimination and biases. The most effective leaders are prepared to work toward eliminating disparities in educational outcomes and not only inspire learners and prospective students, but also those who work in the university.
There are so few Black academics and leaders in Higher Education and in my leadership role I aim to positively role model, to listen, to support, to encourage, to advocate, to develop others and to do this by being my authentic self.
I pay homage to those leaders I admire and who have helped me, and I try to pay it forward and empower others. To me, leadership is about trust and accountability and being open to critique, challenge and reflecting on that.
As a leader, I aim to value and respect other people’s lived experiences and opinions and bring marginalised voices into spaces where they are not often heard.
We are all leaders in our own ways, and we need to hold each other to account but we also need to hold each other up.
Lurraine Jones is· Director of Equality Diversity & Inclusion at The Open University. She’s a motivated educator with comprehensive knowledge of EDI legislation, social justice issues and access to education affecting marginalised communities.