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. Find out more in our Frequently Asked Questions guide.
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.
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.
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.
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.