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Our policies on 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 Strategic 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.

Learn more about our commitment to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion.

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.

UKRI to tackle diversity problem in research

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.

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.  

Full membership of the group is: 

  • Dr Dina Belluigi, Queen’s University Belfast  
  • Zamila Bunglawala, Cabinet Office  
  • Dr Rosanna Duncan, Palladium 
  • Zabeen Hirji, Strategic Advisor, Canada 
  • Professor Wendy Loretto, University of Edinburgh Business School  
  • Simon McKeown, Teesside University  
  • Dr Claire Murray, Diamond Light Source  
  • Professor Eugene Oteng-Ntim, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust  
  • Professor Giovanni Razzu, University of Reading  
  • Dr Karen Salt, University of Nottingham 
  • Professor Tom Welton, Imperial College London 

The group brings together both national and international experts from across the public, private and charitable sectors. UKRI will work with the Advisory Group to identify and prioritise areas to make the most progress on equality, diversity and inclusion and improve outcomes in this area.

Read more about the group here.

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.

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

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.