Strategy

STFC equality, diversity and inclusion action plan 2022 to 2023

From:
Science and Technology Facilities Research Council (STFC)
Published:

Introduction

This publication presents the latest iteration of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) action plan 2022 to 2023. As a world-leading multidisciplinary research and innovation organisation, this plan details why equality, diversity and inclusion are important for our organisation, our staff and our communities.

We are part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which is the largest public funder of research and innovation in the UK. We have developed our action plan in the context of the development of the first edition of the UKRI EDI strategy and associated UKRI shared EDI actions.

We aspire to ensure equality, diversity and inclusion for all who work in and with STFC. We will actively listen and value everyone who works for and with STFC and demonstrate respectful and inclusive behaviours to each other and everyone we work with.

Our EDI action plan is a rolling 12 to 18 month action plan that will be reviewed and updated at least annually.

In addition to STFC funding research in particle physics, nuclear physics, astronomy, space science and particle astrophysics, we build and operate many of the UK’s largest multidisciplinary research facilities at our national research and innovation campuses.

This has created an ecosystem of supporting facilities, institutions and people that catalyses, nurtures and accelerates innovation in science and technology. This allows the UK to enjoy competitive commercial advantages along with the wider industrial, societal and economic impacts that come with it.

Our fundamental research seeks to understand the Universe from the largest astronomical scales to the tiniest constituents of matter, and creates impact on a very tangible, human scale.

We have funded and provided key technologies for the UK to play a leading role in some of the most groundbreaking discoveries of the last 50 years, including the discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN and the first direct detection of gravitational waves.

These profound and exciting discoveries have changed the way we understand the universe. They, along with many of the other activities STFC supports have the potential to inspire the next generation of young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

We are one of the largest science delivery organisations in the UK with around 2,700 directly employed staff, most of whom are in scientific, engineering and technical roles. As part of UKRI, we have an integral role to play in helping to secure the UK’s position as a world-leader in science, technology and innovation. To achieve this, the UK needs to attract, develop and retain a diverse pool of talented people.

UKRI's EDI strategy and action plans

Excellence in research and innovation requires a culture that values and supports different people, ideas and perspectives. Embracing the widest possible range of exceptional talent and skills will strengthen research and innovation and the ability to improve lives, helping to create a knowledge economy that benefits everyone and supports growth and prosperity.

In 2022, UKRI ran a consultation on its draft EDI strategy and received a broad range of feedback and views. UKRI has used this feedback, together with long-term work across UKRI and extensive engagement across the research and innovation sector, to help refine the strategy and develop a suite of action plans.

It is clear that a variety of approaches and interventions will be needed to create a more inclusive research and innovation system, where people, creativity and ideas can flourish. The UKRI EDI strategy serves as a unifying framework, to which our suite of action plans are directly linked.

These action plans enable us to test, pilot and evaluate approaches in different contexts. Some will be system-wide, while others will be more focused. The plans are informed by data, insight and engagement with our communities.

The action plans are living documents that will continue to evolve as we learn from ourselves and others. We will use our people, culture and talent portfolio approach to connect work across these action plans and actively share learning as we make progress.

Through this approach, we are giving greater visibility of the work happening across UKRI to foster a research and innovation system ‘by everyone, for everyone’. We will continue to share our experiences, successes and challenges as we develop and evolve our plans.

STFC's case for EDI

Thanks to our position as a major employer of scientific and engineering staff and through working collaboratively with many UK and international research institutions and industrial partners, STFC has a key role to play in developing and helping to secure the UK’s position as a world-leader in science, technology and innovation.

To achieve this, the UK needs to attract, develop and retain a diverse pool of talented people in the areas of science, technology and innovation, and STFC has an ongoing programme aimed at achieving that.

Current data shows that 25% of STFC staff have declared that they are female and 6% have declared they are Black, Asian or minority ethnic. This compares with around 51% and 14%, respectively in the UK population.

Our demographics are comparable with those of our research communities. For example, in a 2019 survey of Institute of Physics membership 25% of respondents declared they were female and 9% were Black, Asian or minority ethnic.

This does indicate that there is a larger pool of talent and potential we could be recruiting from in the UK population alone, which could benefit not only our work, but also contribute to wider reaching impacts.

UKRI’s EDI strategy has four objectives:

  • foster a world-class research and innovation system, ‘by everyone, for everyone’
  • include and support a diversity of people and ideas through our funding and partnerships
  • create a more inclusive and fair organisational culture, where everyone can contribute and participate, and feels valued and respected
  • advance and grow knowledge and capability to support a thriving research and innovation system by being a creative, evidence-based and evidence-informed organisation

The case for why EDI is important to STFC is aligned with these objectives and falls in to the following four areas.

1. We have an ethical and legal responsibility to our staff to provide a workplace that is equitable and where all feel included and valued. As one of the largest parts of UKRI, we can support the delivery of parts of the UKRI workforce EDI plan. By developing the right working environment and culture, we can also help to mitigate risks around retention and recruitment. In addition, under the Public Sector Equality Duty, we are required to:

  • eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation
  • advance equality of opportunity
  • foster good relations

2. Diverse organisations are more efficient and have been shown to out-perform those that are not. For example, McKinsey’s 2020 report finds that companies with gender diversity executive teams were 25% more likely to be profitable and this increases to 35% for culturally and ethnically diverse executive teams. STFC’s mission of discovery and innovation is best achieved by utilising the talents of diverse teams. By recruiting from a wider talent pool, we future proof those key technical areas where failure to recruit and retain talent will put STFC’s mission at risk.

3. STFC is a public body and we have a public responsibility to support the health of our research and business ecosystems and represent the public. As Professor Melanie Welham, UKRI Executive Champion for People, Culture and Talent, said: “As the UK’s largest public funder of research and innovation, UKRI has a responsibility to catalyse and convene change across the system.”

4. STFC can make a difference to the national skills agenda. Women and minority ethnic people are significantly under-represented in STEM, particularly in physics and our research communities. We can help develop national skills pipelines to support our research and business ecosystems, including in emerging technology areas where the UK has an opportunity to be world-leading.

STFC EDI action plan for 2022 to 2023

Our EDI action plan is a rolling 12 to 18 month action plan that will be reviewed and updated at least annually. In this first phase (updated January 2023), a significant number of the actions are focused on EDI in the workplace, but in the next phases, we will aim to increase the external focus.

1. Create an inclusive workplace

We have nearly 3,000 members of staff working across five locations in the UK, as well as internationally. We are operating at the cutting edge of science and technology, working in partnership with UK and global research communities and businesses. We have responsibility to provide a workplace that is equitable and where all feel included and valued and can contribute to their best.

Inclusive leadership and culture

These actions are focused on engendering a supportive and inclusive culture throughout STFC. This includes improving understanding of our colleagues so that we can work together more effectively. The actions should also help to attract and retain staff, which is one of the greatest risks to successful delivery of our mission.

Trial the STFC leadership behaviours framework

To promote and develop inclusive leadership in STFC.

Priority: high.

Who is leading: STFC human resources.

Status: the pilot was launched in spring 2022, with 75 staff at Band F and above.

Review lessons learned from the trial of the STFC leadership behaviours framework and consider further development and roll-out

Priority: high.

Who is leading: STFC human resources.

Status: due to be reviewed spring to summer 2023.

Analyse the STFC results of 2022 UKRI people survey and develop local plans

To celebrate strengths and also take corrective actions to tackle any hotspots.

Priority: high.

Who is leading: STFC human resources and department directors.

Status: plans were developed in autumn 2022 and progress will be reviewed prior to the next people survey.

Promote EDI training, with the target of staff having completed the EDI fundamentals by the end of March 2023

Priority: high.

Who is leading: UKRI workforce EDI team and STFC internal communications.

Status: training was launched November 2022.

Promote national laboratories’ EDI activities

To embed EDI into local activities and ways of working.

Priority: high.

Who is leading: STFC EDI champions.

Status: ongoing activity. Work for 2023 programme under way.

Participate in and promote local and national EDI events

Advertised in the UKRI EDI calendar.

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: STFC EDI champions and networks.

Status: ongoing activity and programme.

Hold a neurodiversity awareness event

To enable more effective working with our neurodiverse colleagues.

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: STFC EDI champions.

Status: to be held spring 2023.

Work with the UKRI EDI workforce team to develop a pilot for STFC to trial an anonymous reporting tool to raise concerns, so that these can be investigated and addressed

This requires appropriate UKRI policy and processes to be in place.

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: UKRI EDI workforce and STFC human resources team.

Status: not started.

Workplace accessibility

Our sites provide a workplace for several thousand people as well as hosting thousands of visitors each year including facility users and school visits. These actions are focused on providing healthy and accessible working environments across all of STFC’s estates, and supporting our future growth and development plans.

Develop guiding principles for STFC’s welfare and wellbeing amenities and incorporate these in the design guides and site development plans

To have a consistent approach to provisioning dedicated spaces for welfare and wellbeing amenities across all of STFC’s estates.

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: STFC estates.

Status: work on improving existing amenities started spring 2022. Statement due spring 2023.

Develop STFC’s accessible and inclusive design standard

To deliver improved accessibility standards, driving inclusivity for all site occupants and support our plans for growth.

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: STFC estates.

Status: standard has been drafted and is due to be published by spring 2023.

Commission a Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) site accessibility audit

To enable accessibility improvements to be prioritised and aligned with existing property condition surveys and site development plans. This approach will be extended to other STFC sites.

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: STFC estates.

Status: consultant started assessment in autumn 2022. Report is due spring 2023.

Progression and promotion

These have been identified by staff as priority areas for improving EDI at STFC.

Review the STFC promotions process, aligning with work on development of career framework

To streamline the process, reducing bureaucracy and barriers, making it more efficient and fairer.

Priority: high.

Who is leading: STFC human resources.

Status: an initial review was undertaken autumn 2022. A proposal was scheduled for the executive meeting in February 2023.

Publish a guide on the different routes to promotion in STFC

To provide transparency of career progression and promotion options.

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: STFC human resources.

Status: complete.

2. Increase diversity in STFC

To help succeed in our mission, we need to convene diverse teams and encourage diversity of thought. These actions are focused on increasing diversity in STFC and also exploring options to improve mobility and porosity in our research and innovation ecosystem.

Recruitment

STFC’s demographics are typical of our communities, but there are talent and skills that we could benefit from. These actions are focused on attracting and recruiting a wider range of people and experience into STFC.

Trial the STFC talent attraction framework in hard-to recruit areas, featuring messaging “discover what’s possible”

To attract a wider pool of candidates, aiding both recruitment into STFC and diversity of staff.

Priority: high.

Who is leading: STFC human resources.

Status: launched spring 2022. We have seen an increase in both the number and diversity of candidates.

Review talent attraction framework pilot and develop plans to implement for all STFC recruitments

Priority: high.

Who is leading: STFC human resources.

Status: to review spring 2023.

Improve guidance on recruitment best practice

To produce more inclusive job adverts, improve diversity on interview and selection panels and attract a more diverse pool of candidates.

Priority: high.

Who is leading: STFC human resources.

Status: work is ongoing to improve guidance on hiring managers. Use of Taleo tool commonplace.

Undertake campaign to improve quality of staff EDI data (part of UKRI EDI workforce plan)

To understand barriers to disclosure of EDI date and inform the development of new UKRI enterprise resource planning system.

Priority: high.

Who is leading: STFC human resources and UKRI workforce EDI.

Status: undertaken autumn 2022.

Assess interview training and options for provision of refreshers and training

Interviewers follow inclusive practice and do not unintentionally disadvantage any candidates.

Priority:medium.

Who is leading: STFC human resources and UKRI workforce EDI.

Status: to do spring 2023.

Wider diversity considerations

These actions are to support diversity in STFC, beyond recruitment.

Trial a six-month reverse mentoring pilot focused on Black and minority ethnic mentors

To improve racial awareness within STFC senior management and decision-makers and to identify how we can improve as an employer of this under-represented group.

Priority: high.

Who is leading: UKRI racial inclusion and striving for equity (RISE) network.

Status: a professionally supported pilot was launched autumn 2022 and is in progress.

Review the outcomes from the reverse mentoring pilot and consider wider implementation, for example to other protected groups and across UKRI

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: STFC human resources and UKRI workforce EDI.

Status: to do spring 2023.

Review outcomes from the STFC hybrid working trials

To improve our flexible working offering.

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: continuous improvement.

Status: complete. Updated guidance provided to staff.

Develop options for secondment opportunities both within STFC and UKRI, and to and from industry and academia

To promote greater cross-fertilisation of ideas and building of networks.

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: to be confirmed.

Status: to do during 2023.

3. Represent the public good

As part of UKRI, we have a responsibility to support the health of our research and business ecosystems. Public engagement and outreach activities have long been an important part of our programme and pre-COVID, we typically had a million interactions each year. These actions are focused on our grants processes and engagement with the public.

Grant funding

These actions are focused on encouraging diversity of the people we fund, enabling more people to contribute, participate and benefit from our investments.

Undertake equality impact assessment (EIA) for all funding opportunities and train staff in completing these following the UKRI process

To advertise funding opportunities to as wide an audience as possible.

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: UKRI EDI workforce and STFC programmes.

Status: to do spring 2023.

Improve the diversity of members on our grants and advisory panels, including maintaining the target for at least 30% women and encouraging diversity across all characteristics

To encourage inclusive and accessible panel and community meetings, and contribute to encouraging diversity of the people we fund.

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: STFC programmes.

Status: ongoing activity.

Engaging with the public

These actions (and those below under ‘Public engagement to further the skills agenda’) are focused on building and expanding on the good foundations of our public engagement.

Incorporate accessibility and inclusivity into the planning of the Daresbury Laboratory open week 2023

To showcase our facilities and science including diversity of people and ideas to over 20,000 members of the public.

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: event project manager.

Status: planning has started. The events will be held in July 2023.

Undertake strategic discussions with national bodies such as Institute of Physics (IoP) and the engineering institutes about greater promotion of STEM

To improve public perception of physics and engineering as a career choice and the importance and relevance of our research.

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: STFC executive.

Status: to do in 2023.

Reinstate an STFC EDI web page, and update and extend EDI-related content

To demonstrate commitment to EDI and to showcase diversity of our work and the people we fund, and provide role models.

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: STFC EDI steering group.

Status: ongoing through 2023.

Engage with our research communities on the forward development of our EDI activities

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: STFC executive.

Status: to do spring and summer 2023 town hall meetings.

4. Contribute to the national skills agenda

To fulfil the UK’s ambition to be a science superpower, the UK needs a vibrant skills pipeline, particularly in technology and engineering fields where there are national and international skills shortages. These actions are focused on where we can use our people, funding and facilities to feed into the national skills agenda.

Early careers skills pipeline

This action is focused on expanding our highly regarded apprenticeship scheme, offering alternative technical careers path as well as up-skilling in key technical areas.

Undertake phase 1 of the STFC skills factory including a campaign to improve diversity within the cohort

To double the number of apprentices by September 2025, providing a pipeline of technically skilled staff for both STFC and industry and SMEs.

Priority: high.

Who is leading: skills factory lead.

Status: preparations are under way to start ramping numbers from September 2023 intake.

Public engagement to further the skills agenda

These actions are focused on using our staff and facilities to enthuse the next generation about careers in STEM.

Continue STFC’s Wonder Initiative to improve our reach with schools and young people from the 40% most deprived areas of the UK

To work with children from diverse backgrounds and encourage them to consider a career in STEM or have a greater interest in STEM.

Priority: high.

Who is leading: STFC public engagement.

Status: ongoing activity.

Expand STFC’s public engagement activities undertaken by STFC’s apprentices and graduates

To provide young role models to school children, helping young people and their families to see STEM as exciting, relevant, and diverse. To also raise awareness of alternative career paths such as technical and apprentice routes.

Priority: high and medium.

Who is leading: STFC public engagement.

Status: the scheme was launched spring 2022. The goal is to deliver over 1,500 days of direct community-focused activities by March 2026.

STFC technicians and apprentices to participate in the technician gallery at the Science Museum

To inspire young people aged 11 to 16 to consider technical careers across a range of industries.

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: STFC technicians commitment group.

Status: in progress.

Improve diversity in the early career researchers

These actions are focused on increasing the diversity of the students and early career researchers we support, with the longer term aim of attracting a wider pool of talented people into research and innovation careers.

Participate in the national 10,000 Black Interns scheme or develop or participate in an equivalent scheme

To support and mentor Black students. Inspire and promote career opportunities for a group that is significantly under-presented in our research and innovation communities.

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: STFC EDI steering group.

Status: planning started for summer 2024 placements.

Encourage diverse recruitment in PhD studentship by sharing best practice from across UKRI with all doctoral investments

To increase the diversity of the people we support through doctoral investments.

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: STFC programmes.

Status: to do spring 2023.

Encourage diverse recruitment across all doctoral investments by monitoring centre for doctoral training progress on actions to encourage a wide range of talented applicants

To understand and promote any actions that have encouraged a wider range of applicants.

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: STFC programmes.

Status: to do by spring 2024.

Review EDI aspects of our current fellowships process

To improve the overall process to create environments where diverse people and innovative proposals are fostered.

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: STFC programmes.

Status: to do spring 2023.

Hold a quantum technologies for fundamental physics engagement event jointly with EPSRC

To start exploring the opportunities and challenges in some emerging research areas such as quantum. Areas of skills shortage need to encourage a wide range of talented individuals to pursue careers in research and innovation.

Priority: medium.

Who is leading: STFC and EPSRC.

Status: event held spring 2023.

 

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