NERC publishes diversity and inclusion ‘living’ action plan

Aerial view of a desert in topaz color.

We have published our four-year plan to collaborate with academia and partners to improve diversity within UK environmental science.

This plan for action has been developed to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in under-represented groups across the broad range of roles in the environmental science research community.

We are taking action

We recognise that there is a lack of diversity within the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and across UK environmental science.

This means we are missing the chance for a wide range of people to contribute their talent and skills to understand, predict and tackle the most pressing global environmental challenges.

For instance, from 2019 to 2020, of the 935 grants awarded to principal investigators by NERC, only 75 (or 8%) were awarded to individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds. This is compared to the representation of ethnic minority groups in the UK population (PDF, 2.6MB) overall, which is 14%.

Valuable contributions

The plan has been informed by valuable contributions from:

  • NERC community diversity roundtable series
  • our staff
  • our academic community
  • the research and innovation sector
  • wider environmental science stakeholders.

It brings into alignment the ambitions for diversity and inclusion in:

  • NERC Head Office
  • the British Antarctic Survey
  • the British Geological Survey.

Our commitment

Professor Sir Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair of NERC, said:

NERC has a responsibility to ensure the UK has the capability to meet the environmental challenges we face as a society.

We must encourage the widest array of talents, experiences, and backgrounds to bring to bear the ideas and solutions the environmental sector needs.

Through this plan we commit to developing our policies, practices, and procedures to improve and sustain a positive, fair, and inclusive environment for our employees and the wider UK environmental science community.

This plan contributes to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) strategy and also compliments the emerging UKRI equality, diversity, and inclusion strategy.

A ‘living’ plan

The NERC diversity and inclusion action plan focusses on four main areas:

  • maintaining openness and accountability for our actions and deliverables
  • demonstrating active leadership and ongoing community engagement
  • improving our own diversity
  • ensuring equity in improving diversity through funding and grants.

Our plan is an evolving, ‘living’ document. It considers diversity in its broadest sense, adapting and maturing based on continuous engagement and evaluation.

Next steps and reporting

Our next step is to build on the community diversity roundtables, held to develop the action plan, and engage further with a series of roadshow events.

These events will focus on meaningful dialogue with under-represented groups to champion role models and visible inclusion.

We recognise that change will take time and are committed to evaluating our impact annually. In February 2023 we will publish our first report detailing progress against our key performance indicators.

If you have questions about the plan or our approach, please contact: diversity@nerc.ukri.org

Top image:  Credit: AlexanderXXI, iStock, Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

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