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Supporting diversity in research is ‘continuous process’, says guide

Science Europe says diversity efforts should accompany other ongoing improvements to research culture

Efforts to improve the diversity of Europe’s research workforce should be a continuous process, according to a new guide on the issue.

Published on 1 February by Science Europe, the group of major research funding and performing organisations, the guide says that “supporting diversity is a continual process, requiring constant review and adjustment”.

In an introduction, the group’s president until the start of this year, Marc Schiltz, says that “at a time when a number of major European policy initiatives are driving national and international research cultures in positive directions…it is vital that equality, diversity and inclusion is considered a core, cross-cutting topic where advances, complementary to other initiatives, can and must continue to be made”.

Diversity measures “complement and bolster other policy activities such as actions on careers in research, open science and the reform of research assessment”, the guide says.

Multi-faceted issue

Schiltz adds that diversity should be seen as a multi-faceted issue covering ethnicity, social background and disability as well as gender. “Actions to address this broader understanding of diversity require long-term commitment from research organisations, the dedication of resources, and the acknowledgement that support for equality, diversity, and inclusion is both a moral and ethical imperative and a means of supporting research quality,” he says.

The guide is based on a survey of Science Europe’s member organisations, among which 28 of 40 responded. This examined 13 elements of diversity, finding that members most commonly considered gender in their diversity actions and least commonly included religion.

The survey found that 43 per cent of respondents had a gender equality plan in place, 32 per cent had other diversity-related plans and another 32 per cent had no diversity initiatives. However, 80 per cent of respondents outlined diversity-related activities they indicated would take place in the coming years.

The guide recommends that organisations develop a strategy for equality and diversity that is careful in processing sensitive data.