King’s College London has told academics that showing support for the LGBT charity Stonewall could help them achieve a promotion.
The Russell Group university has distributed guidance to staff on education and research contracts about how they can rise to become readers or professors.
They are required to submit an application form that runs to eight pages, one of which is titled “inclusion and support” and lists working with groups such as Stonewall as an example of good practice. Other sections cover teaching, research impact and academic leadership.
It has been criticised by one lecturer at the university, who claimed managers were asking him to “campaign on Stonewall’s behalf”.
Guidance from the human resources team at King’s College London on how to fill out the form, with a deadline of January, says: “You should evidence how you create an inclusive environment where colleagues are valued and able to succeed; how you develop themselves and others; and how you communicate in a way that enables people to excel”.
It says academics “should use part five of the promotion application form to detail specific activity undertaken to support the university’s equality, diversity and inclusion ambitions”.
In a list of such examples, the guidance mentions “participating in equality, diversity & inclusion activity such as Athena SWAN, Race Equality and Stonewall LGBTQ groups”.
Stonewall has been attacked by gender-critical campaigners over its training for employers on gender-neutral language, facilities and the use of pronouns. King’s College London was given a “gold award” last year by the charity’s Workplace Index scheme, a league table of employers.
Dr John Armstrong, a reader in financial mathematics at the university, told The Telegraph: “We are being told that if we campaign on Stonewall’s behalf it will help with promotion.
“There are no college-approved groups that support the needs of female staff or that support academic freedom. This clear bias is discriminatory and undermines the impartiality and credibility of KCL research. It is not just a minor oversight – it is a strategic failure caused by prioritising a corporate view on social justice over academic excellence.”
The King’s College London guidance also lists “promoting the university’s community networks, such as Proudly King’s: LGBTQ+ Network” as an example for the inclusion box. Staff seeking promotion are also “expected” to have completed in-house diversity training.
A King’s College London spokesman said: “We’re proud of the work we’ve done to build an inclusive atmosphere on campus in collaboration with EDI [equality, diversity and inclusion] experts and our staff networks, such as Elevate for women and Nest for parents.
“Academic staff applying for promotion choose how they provide evidence to support their individual applications against a range of specific criteria. 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.”