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Professor Chantal Davies

Professor Chantal Davies, who is Professor of Law, Equality and Diversity at the University, will be using her professorial inaugural lecture to explore the case for using Positive Action as a means of addressing underrepresentation. Positive Action means measures that employers can take to address disadvantage in the workplace faced by people with a protected characteristic (as identified in the Equality Act 2010). In an interactive lecture, entitled ‘Who’s afraid of Positive Action?’, Professor Davies will encourage a reassessment of the benefits of appropriately framed preferential treatment.

Professor Davies said: “Despite laws permitting limited Positive Action initiatives to combat disadvantage faced by minority groups in employment since the mid-1970s, the subject has notoriously been a neglected and highly controversial area in the United Kingdom. It’s great to have the opportunity to reflect on the progress of Positive Action to alleviate disadvantage and underrepresentation, and to dispel the mythology that has built up around this area over the last couple of decades.”

After graduating with a Law degree from the University of Oxford, Professor Chantal Davies qualified as a solicitor with Eversheds in Cardiff, specialising in Employment, Human Rights and Discrimination Law. She then moved on to practice as a Senior Solicitor in Davies Wallis Foyster in Manchester, before heading up a unit within the Equal Opportunities Commission (now merged into the Equality and Human Rights Commission), focussing on the wider strategic enforcement of the equality legislation. She is also the founder and Director of the Forum for Research into Equality and Diversity (FRED), which is hosted by the University of Chester’s Law School.

Most recently, Professor Davies was part of a panel of 10 international experts with gender equality expertise, who supported the establishment of a women-only professorship initiative in Irish higher education. The Senior Academic Leadership Initiative (SALI) is aimed at addressing gender underrepresentation in senior leadership roles across the Irish higher education system. The Irish Government’s Higher Education Minister, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, recently announced the funding and creation of 20 professorships under SALI. The international assessment panel – including Professor Davies – reviewed applications from the Irish universities who wished to take part.

‘Who’s afraid of Positive Action?’ takes place at 6.30pm, on Thursday, January 23, at the Beswick Lecture Theatre on the University of Chester’s Parkgate Road Campus. Free tea and coffee will be served in the foyer from 6pm. Admission is free, but booking is required. Please email

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