1. Introduction and aims
Our aim is to foster an inclusive culture within the Centre, which promotes equality, values diversity and maintains a working and social environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff, students, partners and stakeholders are respected.
The first draft of this Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Plan was developed within the first six months of the Centre, as required in the terms and conditions of the grant. It was discussed and agreed by the management team, with some input from other staff and professional guidance from the Equality Officer of the School of Geography and Environment in the University of Oxford. It has been commented on by our Advisory Board.
The Director has led the development of the plan, reflecting the importance we place on EDI issues. We expect the plan to be reviewed by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and we will consider any comments received. This draft adopts additional suggested changes recommended by the CREDS EDI Working Group set up under the Plan from amongst CREDS staff. We interpret ‘staff’ broadly, seeking to include in our decision-making staff with responsibilities for administration, communications and knowledge exchange, as well as those identified as researchers.
Action 1a: By April 2019, agree a final version of this Plan and publish it on the CREDS website.
In the following sections, we first set out our approach to our responsibilities for EDI. We then have specific sections on recruitment, bullying and harassment, flexible working, career progression, communications, researcher-led activities, and monitoring and reporting.
We recognise that we have legal responsibilities within the overarching legal framework in the Public Sector Equality Duty. These include a duty not to discriminate on the basis of protected characteristics set out in Equality Act 2010, i.e, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. These extend to the treatment of the stakeholders with whom we work, as well as CREDS staff. We also have a duty to prevent bullying and harassment. In many cases, legal duties sit with the employer, and therefore with our constituent universities rather than CREDS itself, which is not a legal entity. However, our duties as managers and employees are essentially unaffected by this.
As a matter of CREDS policy, we want to go beyond our legal commitments. We have moral responsibilities to our colleagues and stakeholders far beyond the legal minimum. In particular, we recognise that the energy research community is insufficiently diverse, and that this problem increases at more senior levels. We take seriously our responsibility to address existing inequalities within the research community. We aim to develop awareness of bias within the practices of CREDS and, more broadly, to adopt measures to address this and to share good practice.
The delivery of the EDI Plan will be led by the Director and Centre Manager, who will report on its progress to the Executive team and, as necessary, to the CREDS Advisory Board and UKRI. As CREDS is a collaboration of thirteen different universities, the delivery of the plan will be a shared responsibility of the Executive team.
The academic staff named as representatives of their institutions in the Centre Collaboration Agreement are responsible for delivery of the plan in their individual institutions.
The EDI Working Group will advise the CREDS Executive on relevant issues, share good practice and take other agreed initiatives consistent with the aims of this plan. It will monitor the delivery of this plan, reporting on it annually beginning in 2020.
All staff in the Centre, as well as associated students and partners, are responsible for abiding by the content and spirit of this plan.
The composition of our Co-Director team reflects the existing inequalities in energy research, despite having been selected in an open and transparent manner, with encouragement for applications from under-represented groups. This is not an issue we can address quickly, but it emphasises the importance of diversity in our recruitment and career progression policies.
Since the formation of the Centre, we have been successful in recruiting high calibre female staff into responsible positions in the Core team of the Centre, including the Centre Manager. We also considered diversity issues in the appointment of our Advisory Board in discussion with the Research Councils. The Advisory Board has a 50:50 gender ratio, and is chaired by a woman who is a senior member of an energy demand trade association.
We will continue to ensure that equality and diversity are considered in all recruitment. Our constituent institutions are the staff employers and all have policies to promote this. All five of the institutions represented on the Centre Executive support the gender equality Athena Swan Charter and are accredited under it to at least the Bronze Award.
Gender inequality is important and relatively easy to monitor, but we recognise it is not the only EDI issue. We aim for our recruitment processes to be broadly inclusive and to ensure wider aspects of unconscious bias are addressed.
Action 3a: Include a statement in job descriptions and adverts that applications are encouraged from specific under-represented groups (e.g. women and minority ethic groups).
Action 3b: By April 2019, ensure that staff involved in recruitment and selection have undertaken equality and diversity training, including training in unconscious bias.
Action 3c: Ensure that appointment panels are diverse.
Action 3d: Monitor recruitment data, the diversity of Centre staff and the delivery of commitments related to adverts, training and panel composition and report the figures annually to the Centre Executive and Advisory Board.
4. Bullying and harassment
Bullying and harassment of staff, students, contractors and external stakeholders is unacceptable behaviour and will be treated very seriously. All of our institutions have clear procedures within which to make and handle complaints concerning bullying and harassment, and we will ensure these are followed. We will promote awareness of CREDS responsibilities in relation to bullying and harassment, including by promoting good practice.
Where both the complainant and subject of any complaint are in the same institution, we expect the issue to be addressed within the procedures of that institution.
Where the complainant and subject of the complaint are in different institutions, the complaint can be made within the procedures of either or both institution. In these cases, where the complaint arises from CREDS activities, CREDS management may need to advise the complainant of the appropriate process. Responsibility for advice and support will lie with the CREDS Director and the named representatives in the relevant institutions. In their absence, or if they are involved, the Director or Centre Manager will ensure appropriate support.
CREDS staff, including employees of other universities who have relevant information, will be advised to give evidence through the appropriate process. With this exception, all matters relating to such complaints will be treated as confidential.
Action 4a: Ensure that all CREDS staff are made aware of the bullying and harassment procedures of their employing institution during induction, as well as being given information on the CREDS procedure and key contacts, as outlined above.
5. Flexible Working
All of our institutions have procedures to promote flexible working. We will follow these institutional policies, allowing staff to work flexibly, including through part-time work and career breaks. We will make this explicit at the point of recruitment, including in job specifications and job adverts. We will seek to learn from best practice within the different institutions in the consortium, and amend our processes accordingly.
We will be responsive to the needs of parents and carers and seek to ensure a good home/work balance for all staff. We will promote the use of meeting times and practices that enable participation of people with caring responsibilities, including through remote access to meetings.
Action 5a: Ensure that staff have the technology, training and support to access meetings remotely.
Action 5b: Ensure induction procedures in each institution include information on flexible working.
6. Career progression
All our institutions support the “Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers”, also signed by the Research Councils. We recognise that staff from under-represented groups are likely to be disproportionately on fixed term contracts. We will use the commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion within the Concordat and in this plan to seek improved job security and career progression opportunities for staff on fixed term contracts.
From our ongoing recruitment processes, we have identified differences between our institutions with respect to the policies on career progression and job security. Within the first year of the Centre, we will establish a working group to investigate this in more detail with a view to promoting best practices within our own institutions.
We will support career progression and project leadership on merit alone. The distinction between ‘investigators’ and ‘researchers’ in RCUK financial rules makes this problematic in practice. Many research staff on fixed term contracts are excluded from the opportunity to lead projects, with negative effects for equality. We therefore will use at least 30% of the Flexible Fund (£750,000) over the five years of the Centre to allow researchers to lead projects from this fund. We will investigate providing mentoring support, at the application and management stages of the projects, especially to researchers who self-identify as members of under-represented groups. We are confident that there will be a sufficient and diverse pool of willing mentors in the community of experienced researchers. We propose to open the Fund to researchers outside the Centre’s own core research programme.
Action 6a: By April 2019, establish a working group to investigate policies on career progression and job security for staff on fixed-term contracts, and make recommendations as to best practice within our institutions.
Action 6b: By 2021, allocate at least 30% of the Flexible Fund (c. £750,000) for researchers to lead projects.
Action 6c: By December 2019, establish an informal mentoring scheme for researchers applying for and leading projects.
We will ensure that equality and diversity issues are considered in the internal and external communications of the Centre, including the website. This will include ensuring that stock images used across our outputs represent the diversity of the UK population, and that images associated with specific research topics are appropriate and inclusive. We will ensure a diverse range of Centre staff and external stakeholders are involved as speakers and participants in events and as invited authors of publications such as blogs and newsletter highlights.
As part of our commitment to inclusion, we plan cross-institutional communications and team-building, with particular attention to promoting diversity and equality and to encouraging inclusion. The Centre’s Communications and Engagement Plan will set out detailed plans in this area.
Action 7a: Monitor the diversity of speakers at events, publication authors, website contributors and images in all communications and take corrective action if and where needed.
8. Researcher-led activities
To improve the diversity of our activities and provide career development opportunities, we will consult staff on plans for the Centre to encourage and support, including financially, an early career researcher (ECR)/student-led programme of cross-institutional events. Participating institutions will be encouraged to associate doctoral students working on energy demand topics with the Centre and involve these in these events. There are a number of good models from which to learn, including the UKERC ‘Sparks network’ and the Realising Transition Pathways ‘Engine Room’ project.
Action 8a: By October 2019, draw up a plan for an ECR/student-led programme of cross-institutional events, drawing on the views of ECRs in the Centre.
9. Monitoring and reporting
We have considered the option of seeking HR data from our constituent institutions on recruitment statistics related to the protected characteristics of applicants, interviewees and appointees. We have decided this is not appropriate. The small sample sizes involved would risk disclosure of data given in confidence and would render statistically significant conclusions very unlikely. Instead we will monitor data that is easier to access and more amenable to concrete action within CREDS. These include data on Centre staffing, events and authors.
The EDI Working Group will report annually against the key issues set out in this plan. The report will be considered by the Centre Executive and Advisory Board, and it will form part of the annual report to the Research Councils. We will consider any recommendations arising from these meetings and revise this plan accordingly.
Action 9a: Report annually on progress against these actions to the CREDS Advisory Board and EPSRC, on timescales to be set by EPSRC.
Banner photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash