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Equality, diversity and inclusion

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.

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 R&D by 2027 provides an extraordinary opportunity to enhance the diversity of the UK’s research and innovation system.

UKRI has appointed 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.

UKRI will seek expert advice and input beyond UKRI both nationally and internationally and from all sectors by establishing an External Advisory Group. Further information about the remit of the group, and how to apply, will follow in due course.

UKRI will build on the successes of its constituent parts and help build a diverse talent pool into and through research and innovation careers. The Research Councils will continue to deliver against their action plan launched in 2016 (PDF, 328KB). Research England will work with the Research Excellence Framework (REF) team and Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel (EDAP) on the development of measures to support equality, diversity and inclusion in the REF.

Statement of Expectations for Equality, diversity and inclusion

The Research Councils Statement of Expectation for equality, diversity and inclusion outlines our ambitions to lead by example in ensuring a diverse workforce; challenge bias and work towards fair and inclusive staff development internally and funding processes for the sector; and lead and support change in the research and innovation sector.

Public Sector Equality Duty

From the 1st April 2018 when it comes into being, UKRI will comply 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

The Research Councils’ publish diversity data (PDF, 885KB) annually on applications which includes grant and fellowship applications as well doctoral student population and co-investigator data. It forms part of our action plan to tackle equality, diversity and inclusion issues in research and innovation.

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.

The constituent parts of UKRI have all published their data and UKRI commits to publishing its first report in Autumn 2018.