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New forum for tackling bullying and harassment

Bullying and harassment have no place in a research and innovation culture. Today, we are pleased to announce the establishment of a new forum dedicated to addressing this issue.

The Forum for Tackling Bullying and Harassment in Research and Innovation brings together funding, policy and regulatory organisations, both in the UK and internationally, which will work together at a system level by:

  • campaigning at a sector-level to raise awareness and bring about culture change, focusing on prevention and a healthy research culture
  • sharing and disseminating learning and practice across organisations
  • promoting collaboration to maximise the impact of policies and resources and reduce bureaucracy wherever possible.

Bringing organisations together

Chaired by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the group will meet quarterly to consider issues, drawing on members’ ongoing work and priorities and those surfaced by members of the community, including those who may not currently have a chance to engage with funders.

Priorities for the first year include:

  • improving data and definitions, including approaches to policy evaluation and measuring progress
  • examining funders’ policies and practices, including requirements of research organisations, considering their effectiveness
  • providing guidance for what good behaviours and practices look like, in the context of wider work on healthy research culture.

The forum is committed to transparency and dialogue with its communities.

Summaries of discussions will be published on the UKRI website and the public will have the opportunity to bring topics to discuss with the forum.

While the forum will involve regulators, it is not itself a regulatory or whistleblowing institution and will not pursue individual cases.

Dialogue and transparency

In addition to the core members, forum meetings will be joined by observers and guests and the group will engage with a wide range of sector groups and stakeholders. The initial membership will be reviewed annually and organisations wishing to work with the forum are invited to contact the chair via equality@ukri.org.

Members of the forum are:

  • British Academy
  • British Heart Foundation
  • Cancer Research UK
  • GuildHE
  • National Institute for Health Research
  • Office for Students
  • Royal Society
  • The Royal Society of Chemistry
  • UKRI
  • Universities UK
  • Wellcome.

The Leverhulme Trust and National Science Foundation (USA) will attend meetings as regular observers.

We are also currently in discussion about representation on the forum by government departments, unions, UK funding bodies, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, as well as relevant professional bodies and research-active business and industry.

UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser said:

Bullying and harassment are totally unacceptable in any context and it is deeply concerning that they are so widespread in the research and innovation system. They are damaging to the mental health and wellbeing of those in our community who are affected, and destructive to the inclusive and supportive research culture needed for creative and collaborative research.

A major priority must be to stamp out bullying and harassment by supporting research organisations to develop effective policies and practices for addressing them when they occur and, crucially, for fostering research cultures that prevent their occurrence.

The forum announced today is an important step toward realising our vision of fostering a safe and supportive environment for all. The forum will improve collaboration, raise awareness and share learning and resources across the sector.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:

It is so important that our brilliant scientists and researchers are able to drive forward their innovative ideas in a culture of fair treatment and respect.

Promoting health and wellbeing is a personal priority of mine and the creation of a research sector-led forum will address this issue of bullying and harassment head-on, helping to stamp it out once and for all, at every level of the UK’s research community.

Further information

For further information about the forum, please contact equality@ukri.org.

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