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Diversity data

The NIHR is committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion and addressing inequalities. One key theme of our EDI strategy is to develop an evidence-led approach to our equalities and inclusion work

One of the most important tools to enable us to make progress in this theme of work is by collecting data and evidence. Understanding where we are now will help us establish how we can get to where we want to be. Only by collecting and analysing our data can we identify the bias and under representation in our systems, and set our priorities for future work.   If you engage with NIHR as an award applicant, award holder or as a professional committee member, you will be asked to aid us in our data collection efforts. 

Diversity Data Report 2022

Our 2022 report marks an important step in developing an evidence-based approach to reducing inequalities and maximising inclusion.

It consolidates our understanding of the diversity challenges we face at the NIHR. It also helps us to establish a benchmark which we can use to measure our progress in the future.

Key findings:

Applications from female researchers decline with higher career stages; from 71% for pre-doctoral programmes to 37% for senior researcher programmes.

Applicants from ethnic minority groups are less likely to be successful than white applicants. People from ethnic minority groups are also underrepresented on our funding committees.

There is an under-representation of disabled applicants, award holders and professional committee members.

We are committed to understanding and addressing the imbalances and biases faced by our research applicants and our committee members. In late 2022, we will publish the NIHR Research Inclusion action plan: a programme of work which will address the issues identified by our diversity data reports.

Read the 2022 Diversity Data Report (HTML)

Read the 2022 Diversity Data Report 

Diversity Data - FAQs

Why do NIHR ask for diversity monitoring information?

The NIHR has a commitment to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in research. We understand that providing diversity monitoring information can seem intrusive. You can therefore answer with ‘prefer not to say’ for each question.  However, the more information you share with us, the better we can identify under-representation across different groups.  This allows us to focus on barriers and plan interventions to remove these,  so that people from all groups can work with us. This information also helps us ensure our interventions are better targeted and more effective. 

I have already provided information to NIHR. Why am I being asked to provide this information again?

Before 2023, the NIHR only collected diversity information on age, disability, ethnicity and sex. From April 2023 we are collecting all 9 characteristics protected under the Equality Act 2010. We are also collecting information about socioeconomic status and caring responsibilities. So we are asking people to update their information for these new questions.

This update will allow us to monitor equality of opportunity across these characteristics. Once you have provided your information, we will request that you review it at regular intervals to ensure it remains up to date. This meets the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), Article 5, clause d. You can access the research management systems at any time to update your information as needed.

How will NIHR use the information I share?

NIHR uses this information to understand the diversity of people that engage with us. This helps us identify which groups are underrepresented, and the barriers that affect certain groups.  It also ensures we are complying with our legal obligations under the under the Equality Act 2010. Your information will help us understand where to focus our efforts so we can make meaningful progress and move towards becoming a more inclusive research funder. Some examples of initiatives we have developed in response to collecting this information include:

  • Setting diversity targets to address under-representation among professional committee members.
  • Launching a major engagement project in 2023 to understand the experiences of disabled people who work with us. This information will inform our Disability Framework, which will improve inclusion for disabled people at the NIHR.
  • Developing mentoring and support programs for applicants to help us retain talented researchers.

To be transparent, we publish diversity information on a no-names basis in our diversity report.

How often does the NIHR publish diversity data?

The NIHR published diversity data in 2021 and in 2022. We are now focusing on delivering our strategy, to meet the targets we have set.

Whilst we will continue to monitor data annually, we will be moving to a three year public reporting cycle. This will help us strengthen the robustness of the data we collect as well as the insights this provides. Our next diversity data will be published in the financial year 2025/ 2026.

Is it legal for the NIHR to ask for diversity monitoring information from me?

Yes. Public sector bodies must monitor equality of opportunity between groups protected under the Equality Act 2010. If NIHR don’t collect diversity information, we can't measure equality of opportunity.

Under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), NIHR’s legal basis for collecting equality monitoring information falls under condition e of Article 6, and condition h/i of Article 9. This means collecting this information is in the public interest, and has a clear basis in law (Equality Act 2010).

How will my information be stored?

To protect your identity, we store your diversity monitoring information separately from any other information you provide. This includes information about funding applications.  We will encrypt and password protect your information for extra security.

What data is being collected from people based outside the UK?

NIHR is a major funder of high quality global health research that directly addresses the diverse health needs of people in low and middle income countries. We are keen to ensure that the information we collect globally is meaningful. We want to ensure it can be used effectively to identify actions and implement change in the future. We are therefore working to define appropriate categories for monitoring diversity in lower and middle income countries that we work with. In the meantime, for non-UK residents, we will continue to ask for information related to age, disability, ethnicity and sex only. 

Who will see the responses I provide?

Only people who report and analyse diversity data will have access to your information.

How were the equality monitoring questions chosen?

The questions are based on lots of current guidance and good practice recommendations. We have used the latest government guidance in some areas, as well as guidance from Advance HE, academic research, and the ONS Census. Contact the Research Inclusion team, using the email address below, if you have any questions.

What does the occupation of my main household earner when I was a child or young person have to do with my socioeconomic background?

There are lots of ways to measure socioeconomic status, each with their pros and cons. You might be familiar with POLAR4 indices, or indices of multiple deprivation, for instance. We have chosen to ask about the occupation of your main household earner when you were a young person.

Government guidance suggests that this is a good predictor of socioeconomic background. Academic research also suggests that what your parents or caregivers did when you were a young person can have long-lasting impacts. This could impact your own socioeconomic status, education, occupation, etc. when you become an adult.

The parental occupation question is developed from from the National Statistics Socio-economic classification (NS-SEC) approach. This approach is used by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), but simplifies the ONS questions into a single question

Who can I contact for more information or to provide feedback?

For enquiries or more information, you can contact the NIHR Research Inclusion Team at

Diversity targets

Our diversity data reports have allowed us to identify areas for improvement in our decision-making process.

We have set the following aspirational targets to improve the diversity of professional committee and panel membership:

By 2027, we aspire for NIHR committees and panels to include:

  • at least 7% disabled people
  • at least 20% people from ethnic minorities
  • at least 50% female members

Following our evidence-led approach to equality, diversity and inclusion, we will:

  • widen our equality monitoring to include more characteristics such as gender
  • explore why for some characteristics there is a high proportion of ‘prefer not to say’ responses, and identify the steps we can take to foster greater data sharing
  • collaborate to improve diversity and inclusion of public and patient committee and panel members
  • review our targets, their implementation and their impact, to ensure effectiveness

We also want to understand how inclusive our committees and panels are and will look for opportunities to embed an inclusive culture.

Randomised controlled trial participants diversity data

Our aim of improving the health and wealth of the nation requires the research we fund to apply to all individuals.

Randomised controlled trials (RCTs), sometimes called ‘clinical trials’, allow researchers to test the effectiveness of medications, treatments or other interventions on a specific group.

To understand how representative we are, we have undertaken a pilot project to look at the diversity of trial participants. We have benchmarked our findings against the results of the 2011 Census of England and Wales.

Key findings from this project are:

  • The diversity of our RCT participants is in line with the diversity of the 2011 census population.
  • We have an equal representation of male and female trial participants.

We know that we need to do further work to ensure that research includes groups underrepresented in research.

Our future plans in this space include:

  • Encourage research teams to understand the differences between sex and gender and promote the need for disaggregating research findings by sex and gender. This follows the commitment outlined in the Women’s Health Strategy and as part of the MESSAGE project.
  • Collaborate with NHS Digital to collect data on the age, sex, ethnicity, geographic location and deprivation status of NIHR-funded research participants. This will help us to understand where to target activity to improve inclusivity where it is most needed.

Read the full randomised controlled trial participants diversity data report