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We are the ones that we seek: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in CREDS

01 December, 2023

We are the ones that we seek: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in CREDS

Sarah Higginson

Case study  

Last updated December 2023

Sarah Higginson

EDI stands for Equality – or Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and it has been a cornerstone of our work at CREDS. EDI is not merely an administrative, human resources or even moral concern. Rather, it is a fundamentally important determinant of who does what work, and how. Done well, EDI is a tool for making research more relevant and likely to have greater impact. It can also be a way of discovering new research gaps and improving the questions asked by research.

EDI has been a strong element within CREDS from the beginning. The CREDS EDI Plan, against which our voluntary EDI working group measured progress in a 2020 progress report and two consortium-wide surveys, covered recruitment, bullying and harassment, flexible working, career progression and communication. EDI has influenced how we presented ourselves to the world, including the diversity of our speakers at events and how we communicate on and via the website.

The strategy informed how we ran CREDS, from monitoring the makeup of every funding call, speaker or recruitment panel we compile, how we selected venues, to informing the content of our Whole Centre Meetings (where we have talked about bullying, unconscious bias and surveyed the consortium on recruitment and their experience of EDI in CREDS). It was also reported on through the Quarterly and Annual reports and during meetings with UKRI.

The voluntary working group met three times a year and was led by the Director of CREDS. Several members of this group carried out EDI functions within their own institutions which helped to increase our impact and embedded some of our learning. Several members of this group submitted a proposal to the EPSRC EDI Network+ call.

For the second half of CREDS, we hired a part-time EDI manager to increase the resourcing of this work. She produced two guides that have been influential: A recruitment guide to encourage equity in process and outcomes in research, which has been adopted by the University of Oxford, and an Inclusive Language Guide. We also ran EDI ‘spotlight’ workshops on inclusive leadership and neurodiversity in academia.

In response to Black Lives Matter, we decided to invest in research to understand the intersections between racial justice and energy demand research, which resulted in us hiring a researcher. This work has resulted in two conferences, a paper and five proposals being submitted: two pending and one successful: Research on Energy through Participatory Insights from Community RepresentativesOpens in a new tab (REPAIR). It also resulted in the development of the Guide to Racially Just Research.

Quite early on, we were interviewed about this work in a Podcast on EDI. We also responded to the call for evidence by The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Diversity and Inclusion in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) inquiry into Equity in the UK STEM work forceOpens in a new tab where our contribution is mentioned several times. The Knowledge Exchange Unit at the UK Parliament were also interested to hear about our work, given their priority to increase the diversity of the research evidence that parliamentarians hear. Two of the case studies for our mid-term review were EDI-related: The Leaders of Tomorrow: Our work with Early Career Researchers and We are the ones that we seek: Equality, diversity and inclusion in CREDS. We have signalled the importance of EDI to our community by including it in the induction process for CREDS Early Career Researches and Studentships.

We monitored, reported and shared our learning internally and with the UKRI Energy System Programmes. We made EDI a focus of the Cross-Consortium Engagement Meeting (CCEM), which led to a joint proposal being submitted to the 2023 ESPRC EDI Hub call, and collaborated with several consortia on the Cross consortium ECR Conference. EDI has helped us engage outside of CREDS in countless ways. We directly impacted the policies of UKERC (UK Energy Research Centre), ERBE (the Energy Resilience and the Built Environment Doctoral Training Centre), the Royce Institute, Heating and Cooling Network +, EDI Network +, EDICa, Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC), the Centre for Climate and Social Transformations (CAST) and Advancing Capacity for Climate and Environment Social Science (ACCESS).

Finally, we produced the EDI Cube, a tool to support EDI integration into the design and evaluation of projects, which can also be used for teaching. This has been used in ten events, reaching almost 200 people. It was also used to inform the new Energy Demand Research Centre (EDRC)Opens in a new tab the follow-on investment from CREDS.


I found the CREDS meeting really interesting. The EDI work and feedback you’ve been giving to applicants on the ECR call are both brilliant! Participant in CREDS meeting

The ERBE EDI plan is getting published next week. If I remember correctly, the following was influenced by the CREDS one: Diversity in interview panels for PhD students; Bullying and harassment – we hadn’t thought of having that in; Flexible working – although attendance requirements obviously changed when COVID came along; Monitoring the diversity of speakers at events and ensuring a balance; Trying to champion EDI beyond our CDT to the rest of the buildings sector which is male-dominated UCL Academic Manager for the EPSRC-funded Centres for Doctoral Training in energy demand (LoLo) and Energy Resilience and the Built Environment (ERBE)

I am very excited and interested in the EDI agenda you are leading on and grateful that you are so willing to share both with EPSRC but also across research institutions and centres. Portfolio Support Manager, Lead for EDI within the Energy Group, EPSRC

As for inputting into our process, that sounds good and thank you for offering. I would also like to think that while we have embedded a lot of EDI principles, I’d like people to help us stay vigilant and learn more. Both the cube and recruitment guide would be helpful. You are doing such important work with this.” Energy Demand Champion, PI for EDRC

Publication details

Higginson, S. 2020. We are the ones that we seek: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in CREDS. Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions. Oxford, UK. CREDS case study.

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