Four-Year Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan Published by NERC
The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has published a four-year (2022-2025) diversity and inclusion action plan to improve diversity within UK environmental science.
The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has published a four-year (2022-2025) diversity and inclusion action plan to improve diversity within UK environmental science. The plan is a ‘living’ plan – that is, one that is constantly evolving – to enable its adaptation and growth based on continuous engagement and evaluation with academia and partners.
It is recognised that there is a need to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in under-represented groups within NERC and across the UK environmental science research community. From 2019 to 2020, of the 935 grants awarded to Principal Investigators by NERC, only 75 (8%) were awarded to individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds. This is compared to the representation of ethnic minority groups in the UK population overall, which is 14%. This lack of representation means that environmental science is missing out on valuable contributions to understand, predict and tackle global environmental challenges.
The plan has been informed by contributions from a NERC community diversity roundtable series, NERC staff, the academic community, the research and innovation sector, and wider environmental science stakeholders. It brings into alignment the ambitions for diversity and inclusion in the NERC Head Office, British Antarctic Survey and British Geological Survey. It contributes to the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) strategy and also complements the emerging UKRI equality, diversity and inclusion strategy.
There are four main focus areas within the plan:
- Maintaining openness and accountability for actions and deliverables.
- Demonstrating active leadership and ongoing community engagement.
- Improving NERC’s own diversity.
- Ensuring equity in improving diversity through funding and grants.
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.’
The next stages of development include building on the community diversity roundtables and engaging 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.
Change and impact will be evaluated annually and the first report detailing progress against NERC’s key performance indicators will be published in February 2023.
(This report was the subject of a RESEARCHconnect Newsflash.)