UKRI’s approach to people, culture and talent

Female manager stands addressing team at board meeting

A world class research and innovation (R&I) system has people at its heart, so everyone can contribute and benefit.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) aims to help foster a world class R&I system in the UK.

To achieve this strategic priority, we’ll need not just a diversity of people, but also a diversity of opportunities in a system that allows and supports its many different parts to connect effectively. A system resilient enough to thrive in a complex and competitive world, with a culture that gives everyone the opportunity to contribute and to benefit.

The policy areas we need to work within and across to achieve this systemic change are inter-dependent, overlapping and broad, often with blurred boundaries.

This is why we are drawing together our people, culture and talent (PC&T) work into a portfolio. Having a holistic approach, while not easy, will give us an opportunity to connect work most effectively and avoid silos.

To support this PC&T work we will have a single point of oversight which I have been pleased to take on as UKRI’s Executive Champion for People, Culture and Talent.

I will be supported by a cross-UKRI Change Board, that will help to co-ordinate and prioritise the many different strategies, policies, funding, and operations that make up PC&T, and the interconnections between these.

We are focused on four key outcomes:

  1. Talented people with the right skills and opportunities.
  2. Shared values that enable a full spectrum of people and ideas to thrive and to deliver excellent research and innovation.
  3. Frameworks that encourage positive and productive behaviours.
  4. Engagement that inspires participation and a sense of shared endeavour.

Working in this way will help us to deliver on short-term commitments, such as those in the UK government’s research and development people and culture strategy (published in July 2021).

It will also establish a sustainable approach for the future that can address long-standing, systemic issues, ones often requiring profound culture change. This encompasses reviews of the Research Excellence Framework, working in partnership with the funding bodies in the devolved nations. It will also include peer review systems and a new public engagement strategy, through to tackling challenges with career path diversity and research integrity.

This change takes time and concerted collaborative action. We know there are many people across the community working hard to achieve change.

We are keen to listen and understand how we can meaningfully contribute. We’ll need to work closely with partners to:

  • understand what needs to change
  • trial new ways of working
  • establish the evidence for what works
  • agree the right steps forward.

UKRI is doing this in a number of ways including:

  • direct dialogue in forums to address bullying and harassment or global talent visas
  • events such as our recent international conference supporting community uptake of a narrative CV (the Resume for Research & Innovation)
  • consultations on the New Deal for Post Graduate Researchers or our draft equality diversity and inclusion strategy.

By bringing together multiple policy areas into a single, broad portfolio approach, we hope to find new ways to cut through the complexities that have accumulated over time. This will drive through sustained and meaningful change.

I’m looking forward to leading this approach, bringing together people within and outside UKRI to make the most of our collective expertise, insight and energy.

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