EPSRC’s role is to promote the formation of a diverse and inclusive research culture to support people in achieving world-class research, as outlined in the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s R&D People and Culture Strategy: People at the heart of R&D.
EPSRC aims to embed equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in all that we do. Our EDI expectations guide below and accompanying blog aims to help the engineering and physical sciences community to identify and address the specific EDI barriers in their own environment by taking into account differences such as location, discipline, role, and career stage.
How to use the guide
The expectations are grouped in six themes and accompanied by resources including toolkits, articles and webinars, and examples of grants, policies and practices already in use in our community. They have been drawn together following conversations with the engineering and physical sciences research community. You should see them as a starting point for you to develop your own strategy. Some examples may be more applicable to your own situation than others.
It is not an exhaustive list of every barrier, but a resource to help you identify and overcome local barriers and to be used alongside other toolkits provided by organisations and your local institution.
Everyone is capable of doing something, regardless of role, seniority, subject matter or research project size. We don’t want people to be overwhelmed by these expectations and we encourage you to be curious. This is not a pass or fail exercise but an opportunity to embed inclusive actions into the way research is carried out.
Embedding these expectations is not about ticking a box (or every box, in other words, every expectation). It is about helping people on the journey to positive change. It’s about what is right for you and your team, your context and where you are on that journey, whether you are at the very start or further down the line.
The first stage is understanding the environment in which you conduct your own research and questioning what you can influence and impact. Small steps build and lead to cultural change. Providing this resource will also enable peer reviewers to critique EDI in EPSRC proposals when it is an assessment criterion.
Note: The resource section includes projects and research that EPSRC and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) have directly funded as well as tools, reports and web pages from private companies that have no affiliation with UKRI or the research councils. Some of the free resources may also offer paid services.
Monitoring and reviewing our expectations
We will adapt these expectations as we work with the community and monitor the barriers and diversity across the EPSRC portfolio. We plan to review these expectations annually with our EDI Strategic Advisory Group (SAG) to ensure they are fit for purpose. We will also continue to monitor our practices and the diversity of our portfolio to ensure our own processes are fit for purpose and implement our own changes to ensure the grant funding system we manage is fair and inclusive. We will publish our forthcoming EDI action plan later this year.
We will also continue to train our employees on EDI to ensure we are knowledgeable and able to confidently identify EDI-related issues across our portfolio.
These expectations were developed in conjunction with EPSRC EDI SAG and members of our engineering and physical sciences community. The SAG was formed to advise EPSRC on issues specific to EDI as we developed our understanding and addressed disparity in our portfolio. It consists of “generous generalists” in the engineering and physical sciences community who are champions of EDI in their own fields. EPSRC has co-published a blog with the SAG about these expectations, which explores what we hope to achieve.
UKRI EDI strategy
UKRI is in the process of producing an EDI strategy that will act as a framework for research councils to produce their own EDI action plans.