UKRI workforce equality, diversity and inclusion plan 2022 to 2026



UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has a critical role in fostering an outstanding research and innovation system in the UK, to which everyone can contribute and from which everyone benefits. To deliver on this vision we must ensure that everyone who works for UKRI can flourish, developing and making the most of their skills and talents.

More than 8,000 people work for UKRI across our 9 councils and shared functions, and in our centres, institutes and units, in the UK and internationally. Our people are our greatest asset, bringing together the full range of skills and knowledge needed to serve the wider research and innovation system.

Our first UKRI workforce equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) plan sets out how we will build a more inclusive culture at UKRI, to offer opportunity for all, and to develop the diversity of people and thought we need to be a world-class organisation. Critically, we must make sure everyone at UKRI can thrive in their careers, feel valued and able to realise their potential. This is essential for our productivity, creativity, and ability to solve problems and address challenges.

This plan brings together previous work undertaken across the whole organisation. It meets and exceeds our legal obligations to the Equality Act 2010 in our public functions as an employer.

I and all the senior leaders in UKRI are committed to delivering this work. This plan provides clarity on what we want to achieve, how we will measure progress and how we can hold ourselves to account. We are committed to sharing our successes, failures, and learning to evolve our plan and actions as we go.

Professor Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive


The Public Sector Equality Duty, created under the Equality Act 2010, requires that UKRI must, in carrying out our public functions and as an employer, demonstrate we are giving due regard to the need to:

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

In accordance with the Public Sector Equality Duty, this Workforce EDI Plan meets and exceeds the requirements for public bodies to publish their equality objectives.

The plan supports delivery of UKRI’s Strategic Objective, set out in our 5-year Strategy, to be a world-class organisation that:

  • empowers talented people to collaborate and thrive
  • is efficient, effective and agile
  • catalyses change and impact

It also puts structures and practices in place to enable us to attract and retain the best possible talent, to maximise innovation and foster a dynamic and diverse research and innovation system. We know our people are our greatest asset and we will enable these talented people to collaborate and thrive.

The Workforce EDI Plan was developed to align with our emerging EDI Strategy, particularly the following draft objectives:

  • objective 1: fostering an inclusive and diverse research and innovation system, ‘by everyone, for everyone’
  • objective 2: advancing equality and inclusion through our investments and how we work
  • objective 3: everyone who works for UKRI will feel included, valued and able to contribute and participate
  • objective 4: to develop approaches to monitor, measure and evaluate change

Our aspirations for this plan align with the goals set out in the Department for Business, Environment and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) Research and Development (R&D) People and Culture Strategy:

  • people: valuing all the roles that make it a success and ensuring the UK has the capability and capacity it needs
  • culture: working together to make lasting change happen so that researchers and innovators with diverse backgrounds and ways of thinking can thrive and do their best work here
  • talent: renewing the UK’s position as a global leader in R&D in attracting, retaining and developing talented people, making sure careers in UK R&D are attractive


The Workforce EDI Plan is data-driven, evidence-based and delivery-focused. We consulted with a wide group of colleagues across UKRI’s 9 research councils, centres, institutes and units, corporate functions and our staff networks to develop the plan.

To identify our priorities and measures, we used our existing human resources (HR) data, our 2022 People Survey results, and feedback from our Inclusive Employers Index Bronze award.
We developed the plan considering good practice examples and insight from other public bodies, universities, charities, private companies, local government and the UK Civil Service, and we asked Inclusive Employers to review our plan for an independent validation of our approach.


We have identified 6 priorities to help us accelerate change by 2026. This plan details clear objectives, actions and measures of progress for each priority we wish to achieve by 2026.

Priority 1: build a shared UKRI approach to mainstreaming Workforce EDI, based on collaboration and communication

Feedback from our Inclusive Employers Standard (Bronze) award noted the need to connect EDI from component parts of the organisation into a coherent voice, at all levels. We recognise fully this need and have an opportunity to maximise the benefits of bringing together the seven research councils, Innovate UK and Research England, our centres, institutes and units (CIUs), staff networks and shared functions to do this.

We must therefore capitalise on existing good practice within UKRI and pool our expertise and resources to deliver and mainstream EDI as effectively and efficiently as possible, while recognising local needs across all parts of UKRI. We will increase collaboration across UKRI to break down silos and support our staff to contribute to delivery of the EDI plan.

Objective 1a: build and implement a collaborative framework for EDI across UKRI for all parts of the organisation to participate

Action 1.1: Develop a responsibility assignment matrix for EDI work, completed by end of March 2023.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 1.1.1 Production of a stakeholder map of EDI activity in conjunction with all areas of UKRI
  • 1.1.2 Completion of a RACI of EDI with key results communicated

Action 1.2: Develop and implement collaborative ways of working and a delivery model for Workforce EDI, completed by end of March 2023.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 1.2.1 Implementation of a Workforce EDI governance structure
  • 1.2.2 Creation and implementation of a delivery model to join up Workforce EDI across HR; the 9 councils; CIUs; corporate hub; People, Finance and Culture Committee; EDI Strategy; staff networks and different types of EDI roles within UKRI (formal or informal) and staff networks
  • 1.2.3 Workforce EDI Forum created to share practice
  • 1.2.4 A framework piloted, and a ‘collective’/group established for gender equality

Objective 1b: engage our staff in EDI work through strategic and inclusive communications

Action 1.3: Develop and implement an EDI communications plan, completed by end of March 2023.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 1.3.1 A strategy in place for EDI communications
  • 1.3.2 EDI communications plan developed and implemented
  • 1.3.3 Success measures defined and agreed to assess the effectiveness of EDI communications and changes in awareness and behaviour
  • 1.3.4 EDI engagement campaigns devised, implemented and evaluated

Action 1.4: Develop and implement an approach to inclusive communications, completed by end of December 2023.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 1.4.1 Inclusive communications process developed and implemented
  • 1.4.2 Inclusive style guide developed and implemented. Accessibility guide and related assets developed and implemented

Priority 2: improve our data and insight to build an evidence-based approach to EDI

The UKRI Strategy commits to enhance our data analytics to inform all our decisions and improve our performance. This creates the right environment for how we improve our data collection, analysis, quality and insight consistently across UKRI to build a strong evidence base for EDI.

Such improvements will inform and drive the interventions we need to make to meet our legal duties to eliminate disadvantage and to embed opportunity. We also need to understand how our workforce demographics compare with relevant benchmarks across the research and innovation (R&I) sector, so that we can set stretching targets to achieve change.

Objective 2a: improve our workforce data

Action 2.1: Develop a standardised UKRI-wide EDI question set based on legal requirements and EDI best practice by end of March 2023, which is implemented from then onwards.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 2.1.1 UKRI question set and accompanying guidance is developed and published, that is aligned with legal requirements, data frameworks, benchmarking and EDI, sector and government good practice across the UK
  • 2.1.2 The question set is adopted in 100% of surveys and data collection activities across UKRI where EDI data is required

Action 2.2: Improvement of our data collection infrastructure, completed by end of December 2023, with additional actions delivered up to 2025.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 2.2.1 Completed review of existing HR staff data systems and changes required identified
  • 2.2.2 Systems and related reporting structures are updated to reflect the standardised question set and then launched in 2023
  • 2.2.3 Successful launch of the SHARP (Services for HR, Accounting, Reporting and Procurement) system with standardised question set included. Data template to support Athena Swan applications in CIUs (as a pilot for other relevant charters) delivered by 2025

Action 2.3: Improvement of diversity sharing rates, with actions completed by end of January 2024.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 2.3.1 Reasons for low disclosure rates identified and a pilot set of actions to address these created
  • 2.3.2 The UKRI annual People Survey results show increased diversity declarations
  • 2.3.3 A disclosure rate by staff on HR staff systems across disability, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation achieved in first year following the pilot set of actions is increased by 20%

Objective 2b: better understand our workforce diversity profile

Action 2.4: Establish workforce diversity benchmarks, by end of December 2023.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 2.4.1 Research undertaken into benchmarks across populations, disciplines, functions and sectors, with key benchmarks identified
  • 2.4.2 Benchmarking insight system is implemented
  • 2.4.3 Relevant EDI stretch targets and KPIs are set across Councils to 2030, monitored quarterly and annually, feeding into Strategic Workforce Planning

Objective 2c: build a complementary qualitative evidence base

Action 2.5: Create a register of internal EDI practice against which to benchmark interventions and share good practice, completed by end of March 2024.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 2.5.1 Register of practice launched and maintained
  • 2.5.2 Process implemented to measure effectiveness of using the good practice register in shaping UKRI policy and activities. Completion of a report on impact after year 1

Action 2.6: Develop a process to research, evidence and integrate staff experiences into our evidence base, completed by end of March 2025.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 2.6.1 Development of a survey operations and governance framework
  • 2.6.2 Development of a process and framework for focus groups and other ways of capturing experiences
  • 2.6.3 A data utilisation rate from qualitative methods of 25% in Workforce EDI projects

Objective 2d: improve our reporting on our workforce

Action 2.7: Publish enhanced workforce data, starting in 2023.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 2.7.1 Annual external publication of the EDI workforce monitoring report
  • 2.7.2 Annual publication and review of the Gender Equality Plan
  • 2.7.3 Quarterly reports on progress towards targets provided to leadership and governance committees are provided
  • 2.7.4 Annual monitoring and review of the Workforce EDI Plan is undertaken
  • 2.7.5 Continued publication of pay gap and equal pay reports

Priority 3: diversify our workforce

Our organisation operates across the UK and has global reach. We want our workforce to reflect that. We recognise and value the diversity of experiences, skills and knowledge of our people, and how these enhance our innovation, creativity, productivity and problem-solving as an organisation.

There is a well-documented correlation between diversity and organisational performance. It improves attraction and retention of talent, increases employee satisfaction, and results in better decision-making which leads to better outputs (McKinsey report, ‘Why Diversity Matters’).

The UKRI Strategy commits to take action to ensure we can attract and retain talent, creating career paths that ensure people continue to thrive over the long-term. This requires that we understand how we can break down barriers that prevent inclusion and progression of a diversity of people, experiences, and perspectives at UKRI.

Objective 3a: identify and address structural barriers to staff inclusion within our policies, practices and systems across all of our operations

Action 3.1: Review stages of the employee lifecycle to identify and address barriers to different employee groups, completed by end of December 2024.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 3.1.1 Employee lifecycle review completed and associated equity actions according to characteristics created
  • 3.1.2 Improvement interventions, targets and measures set with annual review
  • 3.1.3 Interventions evaluated
  • 3.1.4 A single, integrated Workplace Adjustments Passport is implemented
  • 3.1.5 Review completed into parental transition experiences (particularly maternity returners) with associated recommendations and action plan
  • 3.1.6 Completion of a programme of work to support menopause in the workplace
  • 3.1.7 Completion of a programme of work to support areas related to women’s reproductive health and wellbeing (e.g., pregnancy loss)

Action 3.2: Framework of interventions across UKRI, maximising resource and expertise to address identified barriers is piloted between 2023 and 2026.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 3.2.1 4 pilots delivered successfully across parts of UKRI, prioritised by local need
  • 3.2.2 Pilots reviewed and implemented across the whole organisation, where appropriate

Objective 3b: diversify and strengthen the UKRI workforce

Action 3.3: Incorporate EDI data formally into Strategic Workforce Planning, from 2024 onwards.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

3.3.1 Annual Workforce Planning documents use EDI data to set and meet targets

Priority 4: support our staff networks to foster an inclusive workplace culture

Our 2022 People Survey results showed scope to improve inclusion at UKRI. Our 8 staff networks are vital to help us to achieve this, and they contribute to a safe and inclusive workplace for our people. We have listened to our networks, recognising what they need to grow, and taking steps to support them in doing so.

Objective 4a: support and develop staff networks

Action 4.1: Undertake effectiveness review and needs analysis of staff networks, completed by end of March 2023.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 4.1.1 Review scoped and plan developed
  • 4.1.2 Completion of the review with recommendations for action identified and implemented

Action 4.2: Provide an ongoing support and management function for networks, with key actions completed by end of June 2023.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 4.2.1 Implementation of clear management processes as agreed in the Framework of Operation and Engagement
  • 4.2.2 Implementation of a fair funding allocation process for networks to enable them to access support for events and activities
  • 4.2.3 Initiation and implementation of a mechanism and associated budget for travel expenses related to network activity
  • 4.2.4 Implementation of a learning and development plan for network leadership teams
  • 4.2.5 Implementation of an agreed process for appointing Executive Sponsors, and of Sponsor guidance
  • 4.2.6 Positive feedback from networks that support provided is effective to undertake their roles

Action 4.3: Recognise staff network roles formally in appraisal, development and allocation of workload, completed by end of June 2023.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 4.3.1 Workload allocation to enable Chairs or Co-Chairs to undertake network activities is agreed and implemented
  • 4.3.2 Recognition of all network leadership team roles and network activities in UKRI’s annual performance and appraisal process

Objective 4b: Improve inclusion of staff network insight to support culture change

Action 4.4: Develop a Framework of Operation for staff networks.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 4.4.1 Inclusion of staff networks in the RACI of Workforce EDI activity
  • 4.4.2 Development and implementation of a formal Framework of Operation and Engagement (FOE) for Staff Networks to clarify ways of working, roles and responsibilities in EDI activity

Priority 5: Build capability and confidence of our workforce to embed EDI across UKRI

We must equip our employees, managers and leaders to build EDI into their work, particularly how they do it to deliver the inclusive culture we need for success.

We must also bring about structural change via our policies and processes to enable us to do this. We aim to exceed our Public Sector Equality Duty to build a world-class organisation.

Objective 5a: raise awareness of EDI across UKRI to promote greater understanding and engagement

Action 5.1: Deliver a core EDI training curriculum for all UKRI staff, completed by end of December 2023.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 5.1.1 100% participation in refreshed mandatory high quality EDI training
  • 5.1.2 Procurement and delivery of a core non-mandatory curriculum for all UKRI staff
  • 5.1.3 EDI training is effective
  • 5.1.4 Future non-mandatory curriculum developed with evidence from evaluation

Objective 5b: create a culture of inclusion and safety

Action 5.2: Identify and communicate our EDI principles, completed by end of June 2023.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 5.2.1 Publication of a revised EDI Policy
  • 5.2.2 Publication of an Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Statement

Action 5.3: Champion anti-discrimination, anti-bullying and anti-harassment across UKRI, completed by end of December 2024.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

5.3.1 Completion of a cross-UKRI programme of anti-bullying, anti-harassment and anti-discrimination that addresses policy, process, data collection and reporting, and identifies metrics to measure change

Objective 5c: embed equality, diversity and inclusion in all processes, policies and procedures across UKRI

Action 5.4: Create a robust process for the undertaking, monitoring and publishing of equality impact assessments, completed by end of March 2023.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 5.4.1 Creation and implementation of cross-UKRI process and guidance
  • 5.4.2 Implementation of bespoke equality impact assessment training
  • 5.4.2 Publication of equality impact assessments quarterly

Objective 5d: ensure equal opportunities and eliminate discrimination for UKRI staff

Action 5.5: Create managers’ toolkits, focusing on covert behaviours and decisions, implemented by end of 2024, and then evaluated and amended annually.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 5.5.1 A plan for the development of key toolkit areas and themes is created and implemented following scoping work
  • 5.5.2 Production and implementation of toolkits
  • 5.5.3 Evaluation and continuous improvement of toolkits

Action 5.6: Develop high-quality EDI Leadership training across UKRI, completed by end of December 2024.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 5.6.1 Completion of a pilot programme undertaken in an area of UKRI
  • 5.6.2 Completion of an evaluation of effectiveness and learning, contributing to development of a UKRI-wide programme for wider implementation
  • 5.6.3 Role model and allyship programme developed

Priority 6: develop HR’s Centre of Expertise in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion to lead the way for UKRI staff

With responsibility for Workforce EDI, our team based in HR must provide professional insight and excellent service. We strive to continuously develop our subject matter expertise in the team and build collective structures to coordinate EDI effectively across UKRI. We also aim to meet and exceed our duties under the Equality Act 2010 to build a world-class organisation and support its staff.

Objective 6a: meet our legal duties across the UK and international locations

Action 6.1: Publish our equality objectives every four years, starting in 2023 through the publication of this Workforce EDI Plan.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 6.1.1 Legal duties in international locations are identified, and implement where necessary
  • 6.1.2 Workforce EDI Plan, including equality objectives is published, to exceed our Public Sector Equality Duty
  • 6.1.3 UKRI is made a designated body under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act, with voluntary alignment to requirements starting from 2022

Objective 6b: develop the Centre of Expertise in Workforce EDI in our HR function

Action 6.2: Build robust process and system for dealing with EDI queries, EDI ’freedom of information’ requests, EDI complaints and casework, completed by end of December 2022.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 6.2.1 Implementation of relevant processes and systems, including a service level agreement to enable effective triage of enquiries, with quality assurance in place
  • 6.2.2 Receipt of excellent feedback on the service from Workforce EDI from relevant stakeholders

Action 6.3: Build team of subject matter experts to advise and guide UKRI in EDI, completed by end of December 2022.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 6.3.1 Successful recruitment and induction of team cohort
  • 6.3.2 Subject matter expertise developed and matured within the team
  • 6.3.3 Team review shows effectiveness and utility of knowledge plus excellent team satisfaction with development

Action 6.4: Optimise membership of external organisations to enhance capability, completed by end of March 2023.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 6.4.1 Completion of a review of external memberships
  • 6.4.2 Assignment of account managers within the Workforce EDI team
  • 6.4.3 Reports of excellent service from external stakeholders in an annual relationship review
  • 6.4.4 Evaluation of effectiveness of resources used to inform our work

Action 6.5: Build an external peer and professional network of Workforce EDI practitioners, academics and leads to ensure knowledge is current by end of March 2024.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

6.5.1 Development of an external Workforce/HR EDI network which includes a diversity of bodies and sectors

Objective 6c: evidence and celebrate our success and progress

Action 6.6: Identify and apply for key charters and accreditations in order to measure our performance and success against the research and innovation (R&I) sector, completed by end of March 2024.

Our measures to achieve this will be:

  • 6.6.1 Progression of UKRI’s Disability Confident status to Level 3
  • 6.6.2 Bronze Inclusive Employers Standard maintained
  • 6.6.3 Charters Roadmap up to 2030 developed

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