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.

NIHR's people can be divided into five main groups. The NIHR workforce comprises staff in NIHR coordinating centres and research delivery staff. These staff are employed through contracts with various employers. Our research workforce is made up of people who apply for or are in receipt of NIHR research funding. Our advisory workforce is made up of people on committees, people on reference groups, external reviewers, and people on advisory boards or groups. Research participants, specifically study participants, comprise our fourth workforce. Our final workforce is our public contributors, whose input spans the activities of the four other workforces.

Our approach

  • Develop robust evidence to understand the impediments in our systems and the biases in our processes which have led to some communities, particularly ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities, being under-represented in our research. We will introduce programmes of change, for example as part of our fellowships and Research Professorship programmes, testing our plans with relevant communities to ensure that we are deploying resources to the areas of greatest need.
  • Diversify research participants in the studies we support and the voices of those who shape our research agenda, by redesigning our processes, introducing targeted interventions and the effective monitoring and evaluation of impact. Using an intersectional approach, we will ensure that we are reflecting diverse interests in our processes. 
  • Embed diversity in all our business processes. We will dedicate resources to the systematic tracking, reporting and evaluation of diversity within NIHR, including data on applications and awards for our research and training programmes, on our workforce and the constitution of our committees and advisory boards, and on the people who shape and participate in our research studies. We will use these data to set appropriate targets to diversify participation in our research and systems.
  • Prioritise a cross-funder approach for addressing behavioural and culture change in research and the research environment, for example bullying and harassment. 

The NIHR has already started to address these.

Our INCLUDE Project, for example, has developed guidance and resources to help include under-served groups in research.

Working with other funders we have also funded a systematic review into understanding the factors that influence career progression in academic careers, particularly in relation to gender inequality. The report from our study of career progression and its recommendations are being considered by NIHR and other funders to shape and develop future initiatives

We have also established a new Race Equality Public Action Group (REPAG) that is working to understand and tackle the barriers members of the public encounter when it comes to participation, involvement and shaping health research. The group has provided its members with race equality training and is now focusing on co-producing an action plan and recommendations to help the NIHR influence change in this area