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UKRI announces next steps in tackling bullying and harassment


UKRI announces next steps in tackling bullying and harassment
  • UKRI outlines next steps to tackle bullying and harassment, including mandatory requirements for those in receipt of UKRI funding to adopt good practice guidelines
  • New resources will be developed to drive improvements across the sector, including a Code for Conducting Investigations
  • UKRI will work with partners and across the sector to identify and address the underlying factors that are contributing to the problem  

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) outlines its next steps to address bullying and harassment across the sector in a position statement published today, Tuesday 22 October, including requirements for those in receipt of UKRI funding.

All recipients of UKRI funding will be expected to adhere to Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) guidance. This means having preventative strategies in place as well as responding effectively to bullying and harassment where needed.

New resources such as a model Code for Conducting Investigations will be developed to help funded organisations shape and implement independent processes that will support improvements in the research and innovation environment. UKRI will also commission further research to improve our understanding of the scale of the problem, contributing factors and effective approaches to improving research culture and the research and innovation environment.

UKRI Executive Champion for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Professor Jennifer Rubin, said: “In a world-class research and innovation sector, bullying and harassment are unacceptable. It is detrimental to careers and experience, destructive of the culture and environment and associated with loss of talent and expertise from the sector. Our vision is for an environment in which everyone is supported to contribute on the basis of their skills and ability, and where the wellbeing of staff and students is actively nurtured and promoted as a priority.

“As the UK’s largest public funder of research and innovation UKRI has an important role to play in tackling bullying and harassment. We will lead by example and work with partners across the sector to effect change.

“The measures announced today underline UKRI’s commitment, and our expectations of the organisations we fund. We will build on this in the coming months as we consider a range of measures to strengthen our approach, establishing clear expectations, supporting organisations to shape and implement these and addressing the problem when failures occur. These measures could include increased monitoring and restricting access to funding.

“We look forward to working with organisations across the sector to address issues of bullying and harassment and will provide a further update on this work next year.” 

As a starting point, UKRI has updated its funding terms and conditions to require all research and innovation organisations that it funds to have clear, well-publicised policies, processes and training in place consistent with practice as recommended by the ACAS Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace: A Guide for Managers and Employers. The ACAS guide is widely recognised as offering impartial and practical advice for UK employers and managers and emphasises the importance of organisation-wide approaches that include both preventative and responsive strategies.

Further to this, UKRI’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group will oversee a three-year programme of work which will include research and evaluation to improve the evidence base around the extent of bullying and harassment and effective approaches to tackling it. Other work includes developing guidance and resources to help organisations meet our expectations, working with partners across the sector to improve transparency and reporting, and developing measures that will be taken when organisations do not meet expectations. 

The approach draws on recommendations from a commissioned evidence review, conducted by the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, King’s College London (KCL), into bullying and harassment in research and innovation environments.

Read the UKRI Position Statement. (PDF, 981KB)

Read the Evidence Review on Bullying and Harassment. (PDF, 3.3MB)

Notes to Editors

For further information contact the UKRI press office at press@ukri.org or 01793 234136

UK Research and Innovation works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. We aim to maximise the contribution of each of our component parts, working individually and collectively. We work with our many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.

Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £7 billion, UK Research and Innovation brings together the seven research councils, Innovate UK and Research England.


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