Vitae welcomes new RCUK policy to support equality and diversity in research


Vitae welcomes the RCUK Expectations for Equality and Diversity, in particular its focus on the responsibilities of those in receipt of Research Council funding in promoting and leading cultural change in relation to equalities and diversity, and engaging and training of staff at all levels.

The Vitae Researcher Development Framework maps the capabilities of successful researchers, and in terms of equality and diversity highlights that leaders of research should aspire to 'act as a role model when dealing with diversity and difference, to educate, advise and guide less experienced researchers, set an example locally, nationally and internationally and help shape departmental/institutional policy and implementation. Taking steps to harness the talents of all researchers in the day to day conduct of research will have significant effect on individuals' wellbeing and career progression, as well as making a major contribution to the impact of research for economic and social benefit of the UK.

Recommendations for collection of a range of evidence and intention to review at departmental / institutional level will enable benchmarking and monitoring of progress throughout all stages of research careers, aligned to the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers 'Diversity and equality must be promoted in all aspects of the recruitment and career management of researchers. Surveys of researchers, such as CROS and PIRLS suggest issues related to career progression for researchers at all stages.

The expectation of training for all members of the research workforce, and identification of practical actions including use of the Every Researcher Counts resources is especially welcome. Vitae, with support from the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) led the Every Researcher Counts project to improve equality and diversity for research staff within the higher education sector. The project supports institutional change in culture and practice by raising the profile of equality and diversity for research staff amongst senior staff and principal investigators. The project was funded by the HEFCE with support from the other higher education funding bodies as an important part of their implementation strategy for the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers. 

Vitae and ECU are currently working to develop a guidance document which highlights the range of initiatives that departments can develop to support researchers who share a particular protected characteristic and offer guidance on how to embed equality and diversity considerations within institutional and departmental practices.