Promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in research

Best research for best health … by everyone for everyone

The NIHR is committed to actively and openly supporting and promoting equality, diversity and inclusion.

We always aim to be a diverse and inclusive funder, both in terms of the people who lead and run the NIHR and the people who lead, deliver and are involved in our research. To achieve this we will endeavour to:

  • Understand the causes of any inequities and barriers to diversity in NIHR training, research and delivery, and understand the interventions that work to address these
  • Extend our reach to include communities where our research will make the biggest difference, and involve a broad range of patients, public and carers at every step
  • Embed equality, diversity and inclusion in our culture and the way we work, so that we can attract the best people and take forward the best ideas and the best research.

NIHR people

The NIHR relies on an impressive range of people to help us achieve our work. We strive to create the right environment so that our people are valued and supported to thrive and grow and that they are treated with respect. We also endeavour to be open and fair in providing opportunities that are responsive to our people’s needs.

The staff, researchers, advisors, participants and public contributors who constitute NIHR’s people

Our approach

The NIHR is working with partners to develop its ambitions in equality, diversity and inclusion, to foster an inclusive environment. This initiative is being taken forward by a working group and a range of advisors, and is underpinned by a plan of action.

We are currently prioritising areas that we believe will have the greatest impact. We are also evaluating some of the interventions already in progress, so that we can build on what works.

For example, since 2011, the NIHR has championed implementation of the Athena SWAN Charter for women in science. Securing the silver level of this award has been a condition of funding for organisations applying to host an NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and those that host researchers on the NIHR Integrated Academic Training Programme.

The Athena SWAN Charter is not perfect, and some see it as burdensome, but it has certainly contributed to creating a more supportive and inclusive culture in applied and clinical research.

Simpler interventions have been transformative, such as the requirement for women to make up at least one in every two people nominated by organisations for an NIHR Research Professorship. Half of NIHR Research Professorship awarded since the introduction of this requirement are to women.

Transparency and accountability

We have committed to publishing annual data, to provide transparency and accountability on NIHR’s levels of equality, diversity and inclusion.

We will publish diversity data on applications and awards for each of our research and training programmes each year. We will also publish data on the constitution of the committees, boards and groups that advise our work and the diversity of our own workforce. We will monitor changes over time as we strive to be more inclusive.

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