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

11 December, 2020

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

Sarah Higginson

Case study  

Sarah Higginson

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) has been boosted up the agenda following Black Lives Matter. Likewise, there is now widespread recognition of the lack of diversity in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects and senior management positions in companies, the gender pay gap, and the nine protected characteristics in the 2010 Equality Act.

EDI has been a strong element within CREDS from the beginning. The CREDS EDI strategy, against which our EDI working group measures progress each year in an EDI annual report, covers recruitment, bullying and harassment, flexible working, career progression and communication. The strategy informs how we run CREDS, from monitoring the makeup of every funding call, speaker or recruitment panel we compile, 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).

The working group meets regularly, invests a significant amount of time and resource and is led by the director. We monitor, report and share our learning internally and with the UKRI Energy System Programmes. We write at least annually to all the institutes within CREDS with the aim of influencing their practices and have directly impacted the policies of UKERC (UK Energy Research Centre), ERBE (the Energy Resilience and the Built Environment Doctoral Training Centre) and the Royce Institute.

Our EDI work drives our substantial commitment to early career researchers (ECRs) and there is a separate case study on this topic. This work is now attracting broader interest. We responded to the call for evidence by The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Diversity and Inclusion in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) which has launched an inquiry into Equity in the UK STEM work force.

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. We have also had several conversations about EDI with UKRI, which we hope will help to shape its work and, thereby the whole research sector, in the future.

Future plans

Increasingly, we are reflecting on the focus and content of our research, as is evident in our FAIR theme, examining the intersection of fuel and transport poverty policy and advocating for a just transition. We are scoping a racial justice research programme and recruiting a dedicated, part-time EDI post to augment this work. EDI will be the focus of a CREDS ‘spotlight’ later this year.

We believe EDI needs to be an essential strand of all funded work programmes, ensuring equal opportunities for all to contribute. Just as important as who carries out research, EDI needs to focus on what research is done, what methods are used, what it is used for and who benefits. We recommend trying and evaluating a series of innovative approaches to pilot EDI initiatives, and using the results to define the criteria for future UKRI funding calls.

Sources of information

Quotes

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

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.

Banner photo credit: Alireza Attari on Unsplash

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