Inclusion in research and innovation will only improve if sector ‘walks the talk’

April 4, 2022

The research and innovation sector needs to stop discussing equality, diversity and inclusion challenges and start implementing concrete actions.

GW4 Alliance has made that one of its key messages in its response to the first UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) EDI strategy.

UKRI has been seeking input on its draft strategy, which sets out the organisation’s ambitions for an inclusive research and innovation system “for everyone, by everyone”, as part of a wide public consultation.

It follows the UK Government’s Research and Development (R&D) People and Culture Strategy, published in July 2021, which called for the sector to deliver on its commitments.

In a written response, GW4 outlines where it sees value in UKRI’s plans but also where improvements need to be made. These include greater clarity in the main objectives, enhancing how data is captured across the sector, deploying funding mechanisms more effectively, and embedding EDI aims into its main corporate strategy.

Dr Sabrina Fairchild, GW4 Talent and Skills Manager, said: “To put it simply, we challenge UKRI to drive sector change immediately. The sector needs to stop discussing the need for change and start implementing it.

“We need to work in an agile manner, testing solutions, disseminating what works across higher education institutions, research institutes and beyond, while being brave enough to jettison ideas that prove ineffective.”

GW4 also emphases the critical role collaborative research alliances can play in helping UKRI achieve change. One key example is GW4’s ability to coordinate activities and share best practices across its four institutions.

Dr Joanna Jenkinson MBE, GW4 Alliance Director,  said: “GW4 is unique among regional alliances for its institution-funded, dedicated programme of support for postgraduate researchers, early career researchers and technical staff. We deliver sector-leading professional development programmes that cross career stages, job families, and disciplinary silos to support our talented people.”

“Collaboration is at the heart of GW4. We know that we have the greatest chance of enacting change if we work in partnership with UKRI and other sector leaders,” she added.

Read GW4 Alliance’s full written response to UKRI here.