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Where we stand

Where we stand

Promoting equality, diversity and inclusion is an integral part of our vision to deliver new knowledge and an enriched, healthier, more sustainable and resilient society and culture, and to contribute to a prosperous economy.

To maintain the UK’s world-leading position in research and innovation, we need to become more effective at drawing people from the widest possible pool and better facilitate career advancement so that talented people are progressing and ready to take up more senior positions. As a major funder and employer of circa. 7,000 people, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is in a unique position to do this. We will do so by modelling equality, diversity and inclusion in our own actions and take a strategic lead in promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in the research and innovation landscape, nationally and internationally.

UKRI believes that everyone has a right to be treated with dignity and respect, and to be provided with equal opportunities to flourish and succeed in an environment which enables them to do so. We also recognise and will seek to maximise the benefits achieved by diversity of thought and experience within inclusive groups, organisations and the wider community.

As UKRI, we are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion for its own sake, and to continue to attract and nurture talented people from the widest pool to maintain a global lead in research and innovation and remain internationally competitive. This is supported through two equality, diversity and inclusion specific strategic objectives:

  1. Champion equality, diversity and inclusion across the research and innovation sector, and support a healthy and high integrity culture
  2. Be a great place to work, which inspires, engages and learns from its people.

OurStrategic Prospectus outlines our focus on four key areas for the foundations for excellent research and innovation: leading talent, a trusted and diverse system, openness and transparency and research culture.

Our Principles

As a major funder, a strategic voice for research and innovation, and as an employer, we are guided by these principles:

  • We embed equality, diversity and inclusion at all levels and in all that we do, both as an organisation and as a funder.
  • Words are important, but we recognise action is more important concentrating our actions alongside our investments to have the most influence.
  • We take an evidence-based approach commissioning and funding research to understand the issues, what interventions work, where and for whom – and what does not work.
  • We collaborate and engage with partners nationally and internationally, to facilitate sector-wide change.
  • We recognise compliance is important, but understand these will not change outcomes unless the culture, processes and practices support the spirit and aims of equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • We recognise the importance of creating a culture that facilitates and safeguards the opportunities for all to be respected and treated fairly.


The increased investment expected from the public and private sector to achieve the Government target of 2.4% investment in research and development by 2027 provides an extraordinary opportunity to enhance the diversity of the UK’s research and innovation system.

Professor Jennifer Rubin, Executive Chair of the Economic and Social Research Council, as the Executive Champion for equality, diversity and inclusion. In this role Jennifer will lead a team to identify barriers and challenges for equality, diversity and inclusion, build knowledge of what works to improve outcomes in this area, and support the development and implementation of effective practices across the sector and internally for our own staff.

In September 2018, 11 members were appointed to a new External Advisory Group for equality, diversity and inclusion. The group will work with UKRI to identify and prioritise areas to make the most progress on equality, diversity and inclusion and improve outcomes in this area. 

Professor Rubin will act as Chair, and Dr Karen Salt of the University of Nottingham will act as Deputy Chair. Details of the groups members can be found here.

Bullying and harassment

In a world class research and innovation sector there is no place for bullying and harassment – of staff or of students – from any source. Our vision is for an environment in which everyone is supported to contribute on the basis of their talent and skills, and where the wellbeing of staff and students is actively nurtured and promoted as a priority.

In October 2019 we published an evidence review (PDF, 3.3MB) looking at challenges with respect to bullying and harassment as well as an overview of the effectiveness of approaches being used to address and tackle the issue. We used these findings to inform our Bullying and Harassment Position Statement (PDF, 981KB) and going forward we will expect organisations that are funded by us to adopt ACAS good practice guidance (or an equivalent framework) to tackle bullying and harassment.

In May 2020, UKRI published its policy on Preventing Harm (Safeguarding) in Research and Innovation, which includes our expectations of research organisations on addressing bullying and harassment. It now also sets out the actions we may take where incidents arise.

We continue to work collaboratively to develop measures that support an inclusive, respectful and safe culture. Current priority areas include:

  • Tackling the barriers that prevent reporting and improving data collection to better understand and monitor the scale of the problem across the sector
  • Working with other funders and regulators to harmonise policies and minimise administrative burdens
  • Developing a Code of Conduct for Investigations for organisations to adopt, to give everyone confidence that complaints will be handled properly
  • A funded programme to support the development of new evidence-based prevention strategies and training offerings such as bystander/upstander interventions

The recently published report on research integrity highlights the perceived impact of bullying and harassment on research integrity. Within UKRI, we will work with the new Research Integrity Committee and across the organisation on tools and processes that address the issues highlighted. We have convened a Funders’ Forum to work with national and international partners on the root causes of the problem, as well as join up our policies and resources, where appropriate, to help drive culture change across the research and innovation sector.

Public Sector Equality Duty

From the 1st April 2018 when it came into being, UKRI complies with the Public Sector Equality Duty. UKRI will consult with stakeholders to develop a set of high-level objectives for equality, diversity and inclusion. As part of the specific duties, UKRI will publish existing data across its constituent parts and, where feasible, provide a UKRI narrative. The creation of UKRI presents an opportunity for developing better data and more integrated analysis across our constituent bodies for supporting a diverse talent pipeline across research and innovation. UKRI will use its data to assess how effective our policies and procedures are in promoting equality, diversity and inclusion.

Diversity Data

In June 2020 UKRI published its first set of harmonised diversity data for all seven research councils for the past five academic years. It includes grant and fellowship applications, as well as doctoral student population and Co-Investigator data. We will continue to publish diversity data annually and have also set out to enhance our data capabilities, while continuously using insights from data analysis to drive our EDI policy development.

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

Gender pay gap reporting legislation was introduced in April 2017 requiring employers with 250 or more employees to publish the following four types of figures annually:

  • Gender pay gap (mean and median averages)
  • Gender bonus gap (mean and median averages)
  • Proportion of men and women receiving bonuses
  • Proportion of men and women in each quartile of the organisation’s pay structure.

UKRI has published its 2018 Gender Pay Gap report (PDF, 167KB) and Council data, and a combined 2019 Gender Pay Gap Report (PDF, 6.1MB).