Equality, diversity and inclusion policy


The Arts And Humanities Research Council (AHRC) is committed to promoting the values of equality of opportunity, diversity, and inclusivity. We will work closely with UKRI colleagues to ensure equality, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) is embedded both at all levels of our organisation and in the portfolio of research that we fund and support.

It is our view that arts and humanities disciplines depend on a diverse range of methods, viewpoints, subjects and approaches in order to continue to thrive and develop; as the Bonn Declaration puts it, freedom of scientific research is inseparable from a plurality of voices. One important way to achieve this is through continuing to diversify the range of people and projects that we fund.

As a UK public sector organisation, we are fully committed to our legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010 legislation and the Public Sector Equality Duty. We are also dedicated to the principles expressed in international instruments such as the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UNESCO’s Convention on Cultural Diversity and to ensuring that they are embedded throughout the organisation. It is our ambition that meeting these responsibilities should be our minimum expectation.

Vision statement

With the support of its Council, Executive Chair, and the use of various tools such as data analysis and training, AHRC aims to:

  • ensure a transparent, consistent, and robust approach towards Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in its governance, decision-making, policies, practices, and processes as both a funder of innovative research and as an employer of a creative workforce
  • address barriers to equality and diversity in arts and humanities research and encourage the development of programme content to enhance the diversity of its component disciplines
  • achieve greater representation of racial and ethnic minorities and persons with disabilities in arts and humanities research
  • offer and advocate support for arts and humanities researchers from racial and ethnic minorities and with disabilities through the various stages of their research careers
  • build a strong evidence base, including of good practice, to promote EDI in arts and humanities with the participation of relevant stakeholders
  • position itself as a leading voice for EDI in the arts and humanities.

Our current EDI priorities

In the context of our long-term commitment to EDI we are aware that there are several issues that need to be addressed as a matter of priority. These are:

  • further diversifying our Peer Review College and other decision-making structures to more accurately reflect the diversity of UK society
  • understanding and addressing the lack of representation from Black and Minority Ethnic researchers and researchers with disabilities among our award holders and across our doctoral funding schemes
  • because many EDI issues are systemic and not specific to arts and humanities research, committing to working more closely with central UKRI and other Research Councils on the wider structural EDI challenges faced by researchers, students and institutions
  • diversifying AHRC itself as an employer at all levels.

Key drivers of change

We acknowledge that the challenges we face in both addressing these issues and embedding a more positive EDI culture at AHRC is complex, multifaceted and ever-changing. Our approach will be to confront  these challenges on an ongoing basis and at different levels, using a variety of tools and resources at our disposal:

  1. Governance and decision-making: Embed a transparent culture of EDI throughout all levels of our organisation and ensure this is reflected in our governance, decision-making structures and day-to-day operations, processes of review and ways of working.
    • KPI A1: By December 2021, a measurable increase in the overall diversity (in line with the demographic breakdown of UK society and taking account of Protected Characteristics as detailed under the Equality Act 2010) in the membership of AHRC Council, AHRC Advisory Board, Peer Review College, Assessment/Moderation Panels across all funding schemes and modes and all AHRC-convened committees, boards and decision-making fora. (To be benchmarked against relevant measurements at January 2020 and ONS Population Data, or comparable, at December 2021).
    • KPI A2: By December 2021, a reported improvement in peer reviewer and panel/committee members’ assessment of the extent to which EDI considerations inform meeting processes, working practices and decision making. (To be benchmarked against extant data from PRC or light-touch polling at April 2021 of members on experiences, challenges and expectations).
  2. Building a strong evidence base – Develop and analyse a bank of data and evidence, based on internal sources and material obtained through our external partnership and engagement work. Use all available evidence and data to understand the nature of the barriers and inequalities that our stakeholders face, and explore interventions or initiatives necessary to address these.
    • KPI B1: Produce (and keep current) a high-level mapping/detailing of barriers to participation and inequalities evidenced (Availability of a high-level resource for the organisation to consult, to inform stakeholder engagement, design of funding opportunities and the development of future interventions.
    • KPI B2: Record the instances and organisation-wide usage levels of intel from this data bank, in all relevant work from Jan-December 2021 (EDI Team to record all cross-team engagements on EDI issues).
  3. Partnerships and collaboration – we acknowledge that we cannot do EDI work in isolation and need to ensure that we are engaging and working with the right people and organisations, that our stakeholder networks bring on board underrepresented voices and viewpoints and that these are satisfactorily reflected in our policies, processes and procedures.
    • KPI C1: all new AHRC policies and processes are in line with this EDI statement, and AHRC have, and publish, Equality Impact Assessments for all new activities.
    • KPI C2: AHRC produces and maintains a high-level stakeholder mapping document and commits to direct EDI-focused engagement with a minimum of five new relevant organisations, or individuals by end financial year 21/22. Activity coming out of these engagements and in pursuit of AHRC’s aims will be added to the action log and updated accordingly.
    • KPI C3: Commit to quarterly meetings with central UKRI EDI team and commit time to collaborative project work where required.
  4. The strength of our disciplines – Support and promote research opportunities to raise awareness of important EDI issues and maximise opportunities for impact.
    • KPI D1: Timely and successful appointment of an academic coordinator to support and promote AHRC’s growing EDI research portfolio by October 2021; delivery against objectives for the post to be assessed at June 2022.
    • KPI D2: By March 2021, conduct macro-analysis of application and award baseline data by discipline. Further 2021 data releases to be published to an agreed schedule, to be confirmed by May 2021.
  5. Communications and engagement – ensure that the untapped potential of AH research to capture and convey its relevance to contemporary EDI challenges is actively promoted and fully communicated.
    • KPI E1: In 2021, we will research, produce and publish a minimum of six case studies, blogs, news stories or other pieces of communications content covering a diverse range of subjects, disciplines and researchers, to coincide with the launch of AHRC EDI programmes, EDI events and relevant sector moments.
    • KPI E2: Measurements on reach and significance of EDI comms outputs (Measured through qualitative and quantitative communications metrics, and responses from key stakeholder groups to content, to be tracked via PSE stakeholder engagement activities).

Action plan

AHRC is committed to a long-term plan of action around equality, diversity, and inclusion. The following table documents current AHRC EDI activity, along with priorities for the next 12 months:

Current and ongoing activities

Activity Aims and Objectives
Equality Impact Assessments carried out for all new activity Safeguard against discrimination in our activities, events, policies, and processes
Task internal AHRC EDI working group with ensuring the EDI principles set out in this document are embedded throughout the organisation Help to foster a culture of EDI awareness across AHRC, in partnership with Central UKRI EDI specialists
Work with Central UKRI teams and other Research Councils on specific EDI focused task-and-finish activities Ensure a joined-up approach to EDI across all UKRI councils
Consult and work with AHRC DTPs, CDTs and CDPs to embed best EDI practice in the delivery of training grants throughout their lifetime, including EDI recruitment strategies where applicable Diversify recruitment to our doctoral training schemes and ensure they are more inclusive

Actions to be completed within three months

Activity Aims and Objectives
Focus Peer-Review College recruitment exercises to ensure diversity and inclusion Improve the diversity of our college and the robustness of our peer-review processes
Review and update this action log and report on progress to AHRC senior team and Council on a quarterly cycle To ensure that EDI-focused activities are monitored and reviewed for ongoing effectiveness and ensure that the commitments AHRC is making to diversity are being met.

Actions to be completed within six months

Activity Aims and Objectives
Update EDI section of AHRC website Ensure that all necessary information on our EDI approaches and policies are easy to find
EDI Fellowships funding opportunity – Produce a report based on feedback received from applicants and assessors to understand how to evolve the pilot most effectively. Understand how to best support impact-focused EDI work
Work with UKRI to produce a detailed analysis of application and outcome data. To understand what areas of our portfolio are particularly underrepresented and use as evidence for decisions around appropriate support and interventions.
Work with the Central UKRI Workforce and EDI teams to ensure that all AHRC recruitment rounds are reaching a diverse range of potential applicants and observing good EDI practice in assessment and selection To ensure that AHRC as an organisation is diverse and representative.

Actions to be completed within 12 months

Activity Aims and Objectives
Within a developed Communications framework, a diverse range of EDI work will be showcased at least six times in the next twelve months Raise awareness of the EDI-relevant research we are funding
Appoint and work with a specialist independent EDI coordinator To help coordinate AHRC’s portfolio of EDI research and advise and steer future AHRC EDI interventions and activities
Review and refresh the AHRC EDI statement Has progress been made against expectations? What new work has been identified? Are the priorities still relevant and do we need to add new ones?

Contact us

We welcome any feedback on this statement. It will help us develop and shape our actions and activities to meet the diverse needs of the different communities we serve. Please let us know what you think at: enquiries@ahrc.ukri.org.

Last updated: 22 March 2024

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