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Commission calls for concrete action on inclusion in R&D

Image: designer491, via Shutterstock

Gender-equality plans should cover characteristics such as ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation, report says

A European Commission report has called for “concrete action” from research and innovation organisations to ensure their plans for gender equality cover all social characteristics linked to discrimination.

While gender equality has been a long-standing priority for many European research organisations, the report sets out that EU member states are increasingly calling for an intersectional approach that considers the way that social characteristics may overlap to create worse experiences of discrimination.

Published on 28 September, the report says that structural change for inclusiveness in R&I organisations would “need to mobilise around concrete action and objectives targeted at the specific and intersectional dimensions of inequality that are linked to different characteristics, such as ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability”.

Under the EU’s R&I funding programme, Horizon Europe, many organisations must have gender-equality plans to be eligible for grants. The report says gender-equality plans have been a key instrument for driving institutional change, but that more work needs to be done to ensure they include all social characteristics linked to discrimination.

The report calls for policymakers and R&I organisations to consider undertaking audits as a way to make their gender-equality plans more inclusive of ethnic minorities, migrants and refugees, LGBTQI+ people and those with disabilities.

It adds that the development and implementation of inclusive gender-equality plans and policies must be done in partnership with marginalised groups, and says that EU member states should set up a working group with the Commission and stakeholders to develop an inclusiveness roadmap.

A Commission working group should look at expanding EU R&I data on equality, the report also says, while member states and stakeholders should undertake research into diversity and inclusiveness in the sector, with the support of Horizon Europe funding.

“By promoting inclusive gender equality, we aim to ensure that our R&I policies benefit researchers, students and staff in all their diversity,” research commissioner Mariya Gabirel says in a foreword to the report.