EDI strategy case studies

AHRC EDI statement and action plan

The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) strategy is a framework that anchors and supports EDI action plans across UKRI. These action plans are living documents that will drive change across our organisation as we grow and develop our implementation of the strategy.

People and organisations across the sector, and teams within UKRI, are at different stages of their EDI journeys. Learning from ourselves and others is important as we experiment and innovate to foster an inclusive and accessible research and innovation system.

The experience and learning from the development of an EDI action plan by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) will help inform how other teams in UKRI develop their plans.

AHRC is committed to promoting the values of equality of opportunity, diversity and inclusivity. As the AHRC Executive Chair, Professor Christopher Smith, has described it,

for research to be at its best there need to be diverse experiences and diverse voices.’

AHRC’s vision is to ensure a transparent, consistent and robust approach towards EDI in its governance, decision-making, policies, practices and processes. This includes:

  • addressing barriers to equality and diversity
  • building a strong evidence base to promote EDI in the arts and humanities
  • offering and advocating support for researchers from racial and ethnic minorities and with disabilities through the various stages of their research careers.

In May 2021 AHRC published its first action plan to further its work on EDI. This acknowledged the need to collaborate within and outside of UKRI to address the longstanding systemic issues that exist, as well as developing targeted strategies to address underrepresentation in the arts and humanities.

The plan outlined priorities to be addressed, which were:

  • further diversifying AHRC’s peer-review college and decision-making structures to more accurately reflect the diversity of UK society, bringing a more diverse range of perspectives into decision making
  • understanding and addressing the lack of representation of Black and minority ethnic researchers and researchers with disabilities in our award holders and across our doctoral funding schemes
  • Acknowledging that many EDI issues are systemic and not specific to arts and humanities research, a commitment to working more closely with colleagues throughout UKRI on the wider structural EDI challenges faced by researchers, students and institutions.

View the action plan.

It aims to be a process of continuous analysis and transformation, rather than a definitive final plan.

The plan will evolve over time with feedback from the communities that AHRC works with and funds, as well as the opportunity to reflect wider lessons as UKRI’s EDI strategy develops with input from across the research and innovation sector.

MRC EDI Advocates Programme

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is piloting an advocates programme for EDI.

This work will contribute to a key objective in UKRI’s EDI strategy, to become a more diverse and inclusive organisation. Investing in and developing our expertise, capability and capacity in EDI is one of the near-term actions in our strategy.

An EDI advocate is someone who, with training and support, proactively works for change. The aim is to help create an inclusive workplace culture where all staff can:

  • flourish
  • enjoy equal access to opportunities
  • have their voices heard, be recognised
  • feel valued
  • be themselves
  • work in a way that supports their individual needs.

Ultimately, EDI advocates will aim to make a difference to improve people’s working lives and help promote EDI across MRC and more widely within and outside UKRI.

The main focus of the programme is to implement the five E’s:

  • educate
  • enable
  • equip
  • empower staff to influence EDI activity within their roles and teams
  • evaluate the impact.

EDI advocates will play a key role, as part of UKRI’s wider EDI programme of work, in improving ways of working and will act as visible champions for an inclusive, equitable and open culture that encourages diversity of opinion and background.

They will also contribute towards driving positive culture change by challenging behaviours, attitudes and how we talk about diversity and inclusion, as well as providing confidential points of contact for staff.

The programme will:

  • develop a wide cohort of individuals who have specialist training in EDI
  • create a community to support one another and share good practice
  • offer staff a unique opportunity for personal and professional development.

Any interested member of staff is encouraged to get involved. Although the programme started in MRC, it has been opened to staff across UKRI and some MRC institutes and centres.

There are 49 people in the first cohort undertaking a series of accredited EDI training. Everyone who works for UKRI has a role to play in making UKRI a more inclusive organisation by actively considering EDI in their work, actions and behaviour.

The EDI Advocates Programme is one of the ways that we are supporting people to achieve this.


Last updated: 21 June 2022

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