Building the evidence base

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is committed to transforming research and innovation environments in order to ensure that they are safe, open and inclusive.

EDI Caucus

As major public funders of research and innovation (R&I), UKRI’s research councils, Innovate UK and the British Academy have a responsibility to ensure a thriving and diverse R&I system, now and in the future.

In June 2022, the Economic and Social Research Council, Arts and Humanities Research Council, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Innovate UK and the British Academy opened a new funding opportunity. We invited applications for an interdisciplinary team to establish and lead an equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) Caucus.

In January 2023, we announced the outcome of the commissioning process and the work of the EDI Caucus began.

Evidence reviews

2 evidence reviews on EDI, carried out by Advance HE on our behalf, provide a picture of the key challenges and the effectiveness of different interventions and practices.

Key findings include:

  • most interventions focus on gender (or sex) equality or ‘general’ EDI, such as diversity training ​
  • most UK interventions focus on higher education and career progression, and changing working culture​
  • there is a lack of interventions in other areas, especially in innovation​ and non-STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) related areas
  • data collection practices for EDI vary, hampering robust analysis
  • there is wide variation in the way EDI activities are evaluated, meaning it is difficult to measure effectiveness
  • ​more consideration is needed to the design of funding calls, such as the timing of calls and interdisciplinarity

The reviews find that successful interventions tend to:

  • involve collaboration across the organisation
  • have commitment from senior management
  • embed EDI awareness and initiatives within organisational culture

View the UK review (PDF, 2MB) and the international review (PDF, 4MB).

Bullying and harassment

Another evidence review has informed our position statement on bullying and harassment (PDF, 981KB).

Bullying and harassment is detrimental to individual careers and experience. It also leads to loss of talent and expertise from the sector and is damaging to the wider culture and environment in research and innovation.

We now require organisations receiving grants from us to have measures in place to prevent and address bullying and harassment. As an employer we are following guidelines from Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) and will expect organisations funded by us to follow suit or to mirror those standards.

Evidence review on bullying and harassment

The review by the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London, Bullying and harassment in research and innovation environments (PDF, 3.3MB), examines the wider evidence base.

Drawing on reports and workplace surveys, it reveals differing methodologies, unclear definitions and low reporting levels of bullying and harassment. However, even if we cannot accurately measure the scale of the problem, that does not deter us from working to eradicate bullying and harassment.

We will work collaboratively with our partners and other stakeholders to create interventions that are informed by evidence and can be effective.  The review recommends that we:

  • take a ‘whole institution’ approach by embedding activities across the organisation
  • secure visible commitment from senior leadership to tackle the issue
  • remove barriers to reporting by setting out clear processes and speedy disciplinary systems
  • implement a prevention strategy with codes of conduct and training programmes.

These recommendations have informed the framing of our position statement and forward plan.

Addressing bullying, harassment and discrimination in the workforce

As set out in our workforce EDI (WEDI) plan, we are committed to a culture of dignity and respect – where there is no place for bullying, harassment and discrimination (BHD).

In order to understand how to eradicate BHD we need to understand the underlying reasons for why it happens. We commissioned The Inclusive Leadership Company to carry out a review into workplace behaviours and experiences.

The findings are informing how we will improve our internal policies, practices and procedures to create a culture of trust, psychological safety and inclusion.

View a summary of the findings.

Impact of COVID-19

We have responded to the Women and Equalities Committee parliamentary inquiry, ‘Unequal impact: COVID-19 and the impact on people with protected characteristics’.

View our response to the Women and Equalities Committee parliamentary inquiry (PDF, 168KB).

Last updated: 15 November 2023

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