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Equality, diversity & inclusion in MRC

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) is at the heart of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) vision where the aim is to create a research and innovation system that is ‘for everyone, by everyone’. Several key principles guide this work. Within the MRC EDI has been identified as a key priority and in 2021 ‘Diversity’ was established as one of the new MRC Values.

Concerted effort is being made to ensure that EDI is embedded across all MRC work. We recognise that an organisation’s success and competitiveness depend on its ability to embrace EDI, and draw on the diverse skills, understanding and experience of its people.

Every individual working for the MRC has a personal responsibility for implementing and promoting our EDI principles in their day-to-day dealings with each other and with partners and collaborators outside the Council.

We are also working together as part of UKRI to better understand and address the EDI challenges that we face. Find out more about UKRI's commitment to EDI.

MRC EDI Audit

The MRC is currently conducting an EDI Audit exploring four key areas (Data, Policies, Processes and Culture) and bringing together both qualitative and quantitative data analysis with staff consultation. This will enable us to establish a baseline to identify areas around which to implement targeted actions and track progress and impact.

EDI Audits are a powerful means of discovering and generating evidence and data to help shape the MRC’s EDI priorities and generate recommendations, which will be detailed in a comprehensive EDI Action Plan to be published in autumn 2021.

We acknowledge there is much to be done to ensure our policies and practice recognise and support the differing needs, roles, opportunities and responsibilities of our communities and support the wider UKRI EDI objectives. We will monitor and report progress against our Action Plan and identify where more can be done to achieve our ambitions and become an exemplar organisation.

Progress thus far

EDI has long been an important part of MRC’s portfolio and an E&D Vision and Action Plan was published in 2014 and is now being updated. Some examples of good practice include:

  • Diversity within board and panel membership has been a major area of focus. A target was set for gender balance on boards and panels in 2016, and this has been consistently met and/or surpassed year on year. An ethnicity target is currently under discussion.
  • Positive action statements have been utilised as part of board and panel member recruitment.
  • A staff Head Office ED&I Forum was set up in 2020 with an EDI sponsor from the MRC Management Board.
  • Interns were sponsored as part of the Civil Service Summer Diversity Internship Programme.
  • Funding has been provided for the Black British Professionals in STEM (BBSTEM) Bridge Mentoring Programme.

New initiatives

The MRC is currently developing the following initiatives as part of our wider EDI programme of work:

Active Bystander Scheme

The MRC strives to ensure that its funding processes are conducted professionally, consistently and equitably. While we consider we have a good story to tell on this, we cannot be complacent in relation to EDI issues and are endeavouring to enhance and advocate our offering in this space.

The Active Bystander Scheme has been developed to provide further objective supervision to ensure that we are modelling best practice, controlling implicit bias, and providing clearer routes for reporting/addressing any inappropriate behaviours within board and panel meetings. It will also help engage all panellists and board members on this important aspect of our grant decision-making and enhance collaboration and strengthen relationships across different teams.

EDI Advocates Programme

The purpose of the EDI Advocates Programme is to implement the five E’s: Educate, Enable, Equip and Empower staff to influence the EDI space within their roles and teams, and to Evaluate the impact.

EDI Advocates will play a key role, as part of the wider MRC EDI programme of work, in improving the ways of working within the MRC Head Office by acting as visible champions for an inclusive, equitable and open culture that encourages diversity of opinion and background. They will also contribute towards driving positive culture change by challenging behaviours, attitudes and how we talk about diversity and inclusion.

Board and Panel Member Diversity Scheme

A positive action scheme is being developed to offer individuals from under-represented groups the opportunity to gain experience of full participation on an MRC funding board or panel for one year at an earlier stage in their research career than usual, and in turn shape the UK’s medical research portfolio.

Further information will be released as initiatives progress.

Diversity data and reporting

UKRI publishes harmonised diversity data for all research councils by the protected characteristics of age, disability, ethnicity and sex for:

  • Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator grant applicants and awardees
  • Fellowship applicants and awardees
  • PhD studentship starts

This data will continue to be published annually and has replaced previously published individual datasets.

UKRI also publishes an annual Gender Pay Gap Report which details information by council. In MRC, data from 2019 highlighted:

  • A mean gender pay gap of 12.8%, unchanged over the previous year.
  • A median gender pay gap of 2.4%, up .9% from the previous year.

UKRI is already taking several actions to address the gender pay gap, and further information may be found in the report. In MRC, it is acknowledged that a lack of women in higher paid roles contributes to this trend and is commonly seen across academia and the wider UK workforce. Nevertheless, this data will be closely monitored, and recommendations will be developed as part of the EDI Audit.

Workforce inclusion

EDI is an important part of MRC’s approach to recruitment. For information about working for the MRC, please see our Workplace inclusion webpage.

Contact

For further information about EDI in MRC, please contact equalitymrc@ukri.org.