Strategy

ESRC equality, diversity and inclusion living action plan 2023 to 2025

From:
ESRC
Published:

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funds world-leading research, data, and postgraduate training in the economic, behavioural, social and data sciences in order to understand the world around us. Our work:

  • helps boost economic growth and productivity
  • address climate change
  • improve public services
  • generate a prosperous, inclusive, healthy, and secure society

It is only by championing and sustaining a dynamic, diverse and inclusive research and innovation (R&I) system that we can maximise the impact of the social science research base and involve and benefit all parts of society.

By harnessing talent from all backgrounds, from every region and from across all career stages, we can maximise the ability of the excellent social science research that ESRC supports to:

  • address the UK’s most pressing economic and social issues
  • meet the needs of decision makers and practitioners across all sectors

Action we are taking

This equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) living action plan 2023 to 2025 has been produced in the context of the development of the first edition of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) EDI strategy and associated UKRI collaborative EDI actions. It sets out the actions that ESRC is undertaking to support the social science research community and the challenges that are encountered as people progress their research and innovation careers. We also aspire to ensure EDI for all who work in ESRC.

Our actions on internally facing EDI work are fully integrated with, and flow from, the UKRI workforce plan, while taking account of ESRC’s specific circumstances and remit. We will listen and value everyone who works for and with ESRC and demonstrate respectful and inclusive behaviours to each other and everyone we work with.

This plan is a living document that will be reviewed and updated annually as our knowledge, understanding and capacity develops. The information below sets out the actions that ESRC will prioritise in 2023. We will develop an evaluation framework to monitor and measure the impact of our actions.

Objective 1: foster a world-class research and innovation system, ‘by everyone, for everyone’

Specific objective 1: catalyse and support change with the social science research community

ESRC action: co-fund a joint EDI programme with the Academy for Social Science (AcSS)

We will co-fund a joint EDI programme with the Academy for Social Sciences (AcSS). The partnership will support AcSS member societies who represent disciplines and sub-disciplines across the social sciences to develop their approach to EDI.

The programme will involve identifying and addressing gaps in EDI data, sharing good practice, and providing small grants to test and scale practices aimed at diversifying the pipeline of researchers and practitioners in the social sciences.

Timescales

The joint programme will run from 2022 to 2025.

Priority areas and rationale

AcSS and its member societies play an important role in developing the pipeline of researchers in the social sciences. This partnership allows ESRC to support the community at the disciplinary level while reflecting disciplinary differences.

Success criteria

The success criteria is that the programme supports a broad range of learned societies to develop their EDI strategies and introduce new practices or scaling existing interventions that address under-representation.

Specific objective 2: support evidence-based decision-making by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the sector

ESRC action: commission an ‘equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) caucus’

We will commission an ‘EDI caucus’ in partnership with the British Academy and other UKRI research councils. This interdisciplinary network of academics and practitioners will generate and share evidence on practices that improve equality, diversity and inclusion outcomes in the research and innovation (R&I) system.

The caucus will help ensure that practice within ESRC and the wider sector is informed by the best available evidence on what works to create a more dynamic, diverse and inclusive R&I system.

Timescales

This will be a 3-year investment commencing in early 2023.

Priority areas and rationale

We are strongly committed to ensuring our EDI practices are informed by robust evidence on what works to improve EDI outcomes.

Success criteria

The success criteria is that the evidence on practices that improve EDI outcomes generated and shared by the caucus is used by UKRI and other parts of the R&I system to broaden opportunities and improve workplace cultures.

Objective 2: include and support a diversity of people and ideas through our funding and partnerships

Specific objective 1: strengthening EDI expertise within our advisory structures

ESRC action: engage and consult

We will engage and consult with members of the ESRC council, our Strategic Advisory Network, the EDI caucus, and other key stakeholders with EDI expertise as we further develop our EDI action plan and our next strategic delivery plan.

Timescales

This will be ongoing.

Priority areas and rationale

Support ongoing development and effective delivery of our action plan and next strategic delivery plan.

Success criteria

Success will be that ESRC stakeholders can provide rich expertise and effective challenge and support for the ongoing development of the ESRC action plan and next ESRC strategic delivery plan.

Specific objective 2: improve access to funding and support for under-represented groups

ESRC action: refresh our approach to peer review

We will review and refresh our approach to peer review to reduce the likelihood of bias impacting on decision making and ensure our funding supports a broad range of people, ideas, and perspectives.

We will continue to work with colleagues across UKRI to update and improve:

  • guidance and support for panel convenors and members on inclusive practices
  • training for peer reviewers, panel members and staff on objective and fair decision-making
Timescales

The review will be complete by October 2023. Work will be ongoing following the review in response to evidence produced by the EDI caucus.

Priority areas and rationale

This action will make sure that our policy and processes follow best practice in ensuring objective and fair decision-making.

It will also ensure potential applicants without a track record of securing UKRI funding have a greater understanding of application requirements.

Success criteria

The success criteria is that ESRC peer review processes are recognised as exemplars of good practice in relation to EDI. They will also contribute to ongoing work to ensure a greater diversity of people, ideas and perspectives are represented in our portfolio of investments.

ESRC action: extend programme of workshops

We will extend our existing programme of workshops to support applications from early career researchers, and particularly encourage researchers from under-represented groups.

Timescales

The extended programme will launch in 2023.

Priority areas and rationale

This will ensure potential applicants without a track record of securing UKRI funding have a greater understanding of application requirements.

Success criteria

Success will be when applicants understand, and are supported to navigate, the application process, particularly those applicants who may be at less research-intensive organisations.

ESRC action: review of responsive mode research grants

We will explore, as part of our review of our responsive mode research grants (‘open call’), how universities’ procedures and support infrastructure can affect the applications we receive.

This will include work on potential barriers to application and providing guidance to research organisations on developing approaches to mitigate these barriers. This will inform the ongoing development of this action plan and further EDI work within ESRC.

Timescales

The review will be complete by April 2023.

Priority areas and rationale

ESRC does not control all the levers for change, and we need to work closely with the research organisations that support the applications we receive.

Success criteria

Success for this action will be that the review helps us understand how university practices affect the applications we receive and indicates areas for further work.

ESRC action: Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) pilot scheme

We will pilot the use of R4RI for our New Investigators Scheme. This will form part of the UKRI roll out of narrative CVs. The evaluation of R4RI is still under development and this section will be updated once further information is received.

Timescales

The ESRC R4RI pilot will launch in 2023.

Priority areas and rationale

We will ensure our submission requirements reflect best practice.

Success criteria

The success criteria are:

  • applicants can evidence a wider range of activities and contributions
  • by evaluating the impact of our pilot and supporting the UKRI-wide rollout of narrative CVs, we move towards a simplified, cohesive and comprehensive approach to assessing what is valued

ESRC action: UKRI end-to-end review of peer review

We will support and contribute to the UKRI end-to-end review of peer review, ensuring we engage the social science research community on what excellence looks like and how this should be reflected in assessment criteria.

Timescales

This is dependent on timescales for UKRI review.

Priority areas and rationale

We will ensure our policy and processes follow best practice.

Success criteria

The success criteria is that the social science research community is engaged with and informs the end-to-end review of peer review.

ESRC action: doctoral training partnerships (DTPs)

ESRC is working with colleagues across UKRI to ensure our doctoral training provision supports talent of all backgrounds and delivers a world-class, highly skilled R&I community. We will continue to work with our DTPs and UKRI DTP colleagues to ensure they recruit a diverse pipeline of talent into the social sciences and provide an inclusive environment for all students by:

  • requiring all our doctoral training investments to provide an EDI strategy, to be reviewed annually, as an assessed part of their bid for funding. This should include information on how they will encourage applications from under-represented groups and their evaluation approach
  • supporting DTPs in collecting the demographic data they need to understand whether they are building a diverse talent pipeline
  • supporting our doctoral training investments to increase participation of under-represented groups in doctoral study, including by commissioning a series of facilitated workshops to promote and share good practice amongst DTPs and explore how we can make entry requirements more inclusive, with greater focus on assessing potential
Timescales

A new round of DTP commissioning will conclude in 2023, with successful DTPs accepting students from 2024.

Priority areas and rationale

DTPs play a critical role in developing the pipeline of researchers in the social sciences. We will ensure that the DTP commissioning process incorporates ESRC EDI priorities and builds on work already happening with the existing cohort of DTPs. We will liaise with other UKRI research councils working on their DTPs, and link up with wider UKRI work being done and dock into wider UKRI work being done.

Success criteria

The success criteria are:

  • an increase in the diversity of students supported through our doctoral training investments
  • ESRC doctoral training investments are recognised as exemplars of good practice in relation to EDI and help drive good practice across the sector

ESRC action: summer research placements scheme pilot

We will pilot a summer research placements scheme for undergraduates from under-represented groups. The scheme will offer participants first-hand experience of undertaking a research project supported by researchers and information on graduate study.

Timescales

The summer research placements scheme pilot was launched March 2022 and will run over 2 years.

Priority areas and rationale

We will encourage and support students from diverse backgrounds to move into postgraduate training and careers in research.

Success criteria

The success criteria are:

  • participants gaining benefits in terms of their confidence, skills and experience that will enhance their CVs and future postgraduate applications
  • the scheme contributing to an increase in applications to doctoral study from under-represented groups

ESRC action: equality impact assessments (EIAs)

We will continue to embed the use of EIAs in all aspects of ESRC work, extending their use to our strategy development and strengthen training and support offered to colleagues in the development and consideration of EIAs. We will work with the UKRI cross-council group for developing a unified EIA process as part of the UKRI EDI strategy.

Timescales

This will be ongoing and embedded in business as usual. UKRI will roll out revised, harmonised process by October 2023.

Priority areas and rationale

Consistent process for considering EDI in all we do and communicating our decision-making to the research community.

Success criteria

The success criteria are:

  • ESRC publishing EIAs for all new funding opportunities and strategies, ensuring a systematic and transparent approach to embedding EDI considerations in our decision making
  • ESRC’s approach being compatible with the wider UKRI EIA framework and a cross-council working group ensures that the process between councils is streamlined

Specific objective 3: diversify the membership of ESRC decision-making and advisory bodies

ESRC action: improve recruitment strategy

We will continue to improve our strategy for recruitment onto our decision-making and advisory bodies. As part of our interim EDI action plan, we conducted an internal review of our current approach to recruitment. We will work with our key stakeholders to consider and take forward the recommendations.

This will include:

  • increased targeting of our communications to try and reach under-represented groups with the scientific expertise required
  • safeguarding the appointment process through better guidance, training and increased support on EDI issues for the appointment panel
  • establishing minimum and stretch targets for recruitment of under-represented groups
  • work to increase reporting of EDI data by members
Timescales

This action will be ongoing.

Priority areas and rationale

We will maintain the momentum on work already started and help safeguard our decision-making.

Success criteria

ESRC decision-making and advisory bodies will be more representative, and decision-making and work will be enhanced by access to broader knowledge, networks, and resources.

Specific objective 4: develop our investments as exemplars for best practice by championing inclusive research design and inclusive teams

ESRC action: inclusive approach to research design

We will require applicants for large-scale investment activity to take an inclusive approach to research design by engaging research users and key stakeholders from the initial planning phases onwards.

Applicants should also demonstrate how they will build inclusive teams that support the career development of all members. Guidance and assessment criteria will support these requirements. We will pilot strengthening these requirements in our centres competition.

Timescales

This action will be ongoing. The ESRC centres competition will launch in February 2023.

Priority areas and rationale

Large-scale investments are a key enabler and driver of change in the R&I system.

Success criteria

All major investments can demonstrate an inclusive approach to research design and how they are working to create a positive and supportive research culture for their teams. Our centres help deliver wider cultural change within the sector.

ESRC action: share good practice

We will facilitate the sharing of good practice on EDI across ESRC’s research and infrastructure investments. We will use our induction, engagement, and investment management processes to facilitate sharing and raise standards across our investment portfolio. This will enable us to foster better practices and create a more inclusive working environment for ESRC and its external stakeholders and community.

Timescales

This will be ongoing.

Priority areas and rationale

This will allow us to accelerate awareness of good practice by facilitating connections between investments.

Success criteria

The success criteria that we have developed a community of practice between ESRC investments, facilitating the sharing of good practice and supporting the development of new approaches.

Objective 3: create a more inclusive and fair organisational culture, where everyone can contribute and participate, and feels valued and respected

Specific objective 1: develop staff understanding and capability relating to EDI and foster an inclusive organisational culture where everyone can contribute, participate and feels valued and respected

ESRC action: workforce EDI plan

UKRI published the workforce EDI plan in January 2023. ESRC will continue to work closely with colleagues across UKRI and refresh our action plan to reflect collective actions.

We will continue to ensure ESRC staff have access to UKRI training, guidance, and tools to support the delivery of our action plan and contribute to an inclusive work environment. We will use our ESRC employee forum to drive engagement and inform our requirements.

Timescales

The UKRI EDI workforce plan was published in January 2023, with ongoing ESRC actions.

Priority areas and rationale

It is essential for UKRI in its role as funder, employer, and leader in the research and development sector to deliver its vision for an outstanding research and innovation (R&I) system in the UK.

Success criteria

The success criteria are:

  • ESRC staff understand their role in implementing the EDI action plan and have the skills and knowledge to deliver our commitments
  • staff surveys show workplace wellbeing and engagement to be increasing
  • our staff consultation forum ensuring that staff engagement and communication around EDI is accessible
  • feedback from existing channels such as the ESRC People Survey continue to allow us to monitor and improve using staff feedback

Specific objective 2: increase the diversity of the ESRC workforce

ESRC action: understanding under-representation in our workforce

UKRI published the workforce EDI plan in January 2023. ESRC will refresh our action plan to reflect collective actions.

We recognise and value the diversity of experiences, skills and knowledge of our people, and how these enhance innovation, creativity, productivity and decision-making. We will work closely with colleagues across UKRI to understand under-representation in our workforce. In addition, we will review and enhance our recruitment processes to ensure we reach a diverse pool of applicants and observe good EDI practice in the selection process.

Timescales

The UKRI EDI workforce plan was published in January 2023, with ongoing ESRC actions.

Priority areas and rationale

ESRC needs to attract, retain, and develop people with a diversity of skills and backgrounds to maximise our impact in supporting world-class research. We will also work with UKRI colleagues on their pilot projects to address areas of need that will further enhance the benefits to ESRC’s workforce.

Success criteria

The success criteria is that we realise measurable improvements in the diversity of our workforce over the next 3 years. This will be measured through collection of EDI data and staff feedback, as well as results from UKRI pilots that ESRC have participated in.

Objective 4: advance and grow knowledge and capability to support a thriving research and innovation system by being a creative, evidence-based and evidence-informed organisation

Specific objective 1: advancing how equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) data are collected, used and analysed to be more open and transparent and inform our strategic decision-making and that of stakeholders

ESRC action: analysis and insight

We will work with UKRI colleagues and other stakeholders in collecting and publishing data and analysis of the EDI characteristics of our applicants, awardees and decision-making bodies. This will facilitate analysis and insight for ourselves and the sector.

Timescales

This will occur annually.

Priority areas and rationale

We will demonstrate our commitment to openness and transparency and to support a constructive challenge of our work.

Success criteria

The success criteria are:

  • stakeholders view UKRI’s data release as accessible and insightful
  • analysis and insights enable ESRC to improve practices, measure improvements, and refresh the EDI action plan
  • data and insights are used to improve processes internally in ESRC, along with other measures outlined in this plan

ESRC action: contribute to development of the Funding Service

We will proactively contribute to the development of the new Funding Service, making the platform more accessible and user-centred and allowing us to broaden our data collection capabilities by improving our digital platforms and services.

Timescales

This will be ongoing.

Priority areas and rationale

We will expand our understanding of inequities in our portfolio of investments.

Success criteria

Success will be the new Funding Service increasing our data collection capabilities.

Specific objective 2: developing effective approaches to measuring and evaluating change

ESRC action: evaluation framework

We will develop a clear evaluation framework to monitor and measure the impact of our actions and interventions informed by EDI and evaluation specialists. We will engage with the wider performance framework and other monitoring and evaluation work across UKRI.

Timescales

The framework will be developed in 2023, and use of the framework will be ongoing.

Priority areas and rationale

Regular monitoring and measurement of progress is essential to understanding the effects of our actions and informing the development of our action plan.

Success criteria

The success criteria are that we can understand and evidence the impact of our actions and interventions to inform our future actions and those of others.

Page viewed: 6:32 am on 13 July 2024

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.