Research councils launch action plan to drive cultural change in equality, diversity and inclusion
4 May 2016
Research Councils UK (RCUK) has today launched an action plan to promote equality, diversity and inclusion in research, recognising its leadership role in driving a change in culture.
This follows RCUK's 'Statement of Expectations for Equality & Diversity', published in 2013, and outlines our ambitions to lead by example in ensuring a diverse workforce; challenge bias and work towards fair and inclusive funding processes; and lead and support change in our research community. Work has already begun with the roll-out of unconscious bias training for peer reviewers and funding decision-makers.
Alongside this, RCUK have today published its annual data on grants and fellowships applications and success rates by gender, ethnicity and age. This year's dataset includes doctoral students as well as co-investigators.
Professor Andrew Thompson, RCUK equality & diversity champion and chief executive of the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), said:
Every one of us working in the research sector is unique, and we all add something special to our work and our working relationships. Building a depth of diversity in an organisation can generate new ideas and challenge existing ways of working. That said, equality of opportunity and the recognition and celebration of diversity are not always present; individuals may still face discrimination because of their gender, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and age among others.
Keeping the UK as a leading global research nation means using talent, skills and knowledge from everywhere - and guarding and acting against discrimination. The research councils look forward to working in partnership with universities and other key stakeholders to change cultures and practices to increase diversity in the research workforce.
A number of activities will be taking place over the coming months to take forward the action plan. RCUK will be engaging with the research community through a number of external events to help shape the way we implement the actions set out in this plan as well as raise awareness of the critical importance of equality, diversity and inclusion within the sector.
2. The second annual update of research councils' diversity data (PDF) - external link - forms part of our action plan.
3. The RCUK Statement of Expectations for Equality & Diversity (PDF) - external link was published on 17 January 2013.
4. Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven research councils. Our collective ambition is to ensure the UK remains the best place in the world to do research, innovate and grow business. The research councils are central to delivering research and innovation for economic growth and societal impact. Together, we invest £3 billion in research each year, covering all disciplines and sectors, to meet tomorrow's challenges today. Our investments create new knowledge through: funding research excellence; responding to society's challenges; developing skills, leadership and infrastructure; and leading the UK's research direction. We drive innovation through: creating environments and brokering partnerships; co-delivering research and innovation with over 2,500 businesses, 1,000 of which are small and medium-sized enterprises; and providing intelligence for policy making.
The seven UK research councils are:
- Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
- Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
- Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)
- Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
- Medical Research Council (MRC)
- Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
- Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC)