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Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) Strategy


The NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) and Clinical Research Facility (CRF) are strongly committed to achieving equality, diversity and inclusivity by driving systemic change for workforce diversity and against non-inclusive behaviours and practices across the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS)-University of Southampton (UoS) Research Partnership structures.

The Southampton Centre for Research Engagement and Impact (SCREI) was established as part of the UHS Research and Development Department to ensure economies of scale and expertise across R&D and all UHS-hosted NIHR infrastructure. SCREI aims to ensure that our research engages effectively with those intended to benefit from, use or enable its outcomes across the public, NHS workforce, policy and industry groups. As a centre of excellence, SCREI brings together the R&D Communications and Engagement, Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) functions.  The Head of SCREI is directly responsible for developing and leading the strategic management of communications and engagement (C&E), public and patient involvement (PPI) and equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) for the UHS-UoS clinical research partnership. To ensure all NIHR infrastructure unit’s strategies are being delivered effectively, the Head of SCREI meets regularly with a group comprising the UHS R&D Director, UHS Associate Medical Director for R&D and the Directors of the NIHR Southampton CRF, NIHR Southampton BRC and NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) Wessex.

Vision and aim

Our vision is to be clear, open, and fair to everyone in all that we do, ensuring effective engagement with the diversity of people standing to gain from, use, or enable our research outcomes.

Our aim is to advance clarity, openness, and fairness in all our interactions.

Our key outcomes include:

  1. A diverse mix of people driving and contributing to our research

  2. Inclusive attitudes and behaviours across our Centre and Facility, working in collaboration with our wider partner organisations

  3. A welcoming and enabling research environment for all

  4. To be known and valued as fair, open and supportive to all

These are aligned to the following NIHR EDI Strategy themes:

  • Become a more inclusive funder of research

  • Widen access and participation for greater diversity and inclusion

  • Improve and invest in the NIHR talent pipeline

  • Embed evidence-led diversity and inclusion approaches through conducting workforce and public surveys and engagement activities to continually inform our actions

We will achieve our outcomes following our seven key principles (Appendix 1)

Where are we now?

We will check our progress using the same maturity model as the University of Southampton (Figure 2). This is based on the model found in the House of Lords Action on Inclusion Strategies (2019-2021, 2021-2024). We assess ourselves to be in the ‘tick box/inconsistent’ phase based on activities and initiatives to date (Box 1). We will feed diversity and representation data into our assessments as our access and systems for this evolve. This is in line with our host institutions, who work together to oversee the joint NIHR infrastructure.

The University assessed itself as between ‘tick box’ and ‘inconsistent’ in 2020. It aims to reach 'integrated’ by 2025. The University and the Faculty of Medicine hold Silver Awards under the Athena Swan Charter. The University also leads the first national mentoring scheme for women from ethnic minority backgrounds in academic medicine and health sciences – the Academic Intersectionality Mentoring in Medical Schools (AIMMS Mentoring).

UHS NHS Foundation Trust has recently published its Belonging and Inclusion strategy. In this, it has led the way amongst NHS Trusts and is building on recent Trust-wide initiatives around allyship training, staff networks and on-ward anti-racism.

We are developing a robust evaluation framework for assessing our progress within this maturity model. This sits alongside extant efforts to improve our diversity data capture and reporting.

Figure 1: Our inclusion maturity model, based on the  of the House of Lords ‘Focus on Inclusion’ strategy 2019-2021 

Our overarching aim is to advance clarity, openness, and fairness in all our interactions

  • With our public and communities

  • With our research workforce, academic, research and clinical colleagues

  • With our wider stakeholders.

We will achieve this aim by working closely across our Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement and Capacity and Capability strategies, as well as in our communications.

These interactions span three areas across the research cycle:

  1. Relate to and engage with each other

    • Communications and engagement activities, outputs

    • Recruitment, career development, meetings and relationships

  2. Collaborate and work together and support each other

    • Our working and training practices, policies and systems

    • Our research environment, physical, virtual and psychological

  3. Link, share and integrate our work within each other’s contexts

    • Sharing, attributing, and translating findings

    • Developing our networks and role in communities/places

We will pursue this change, framed around the nine protected characteristics, plus socio-economic status and social mobility – a key concern for us

Figure 2: Key behaviours that shape what we do

Evidence-based and reflective

a. Building and improving data capture and reporting

b. Making evaluation, reflection and learning routine

c. Spotting issues, gaps for focussed action

d. Building the peer-reviewed evidence base  

Engaged and empowering

a. Building enduring relationships with diverse groups

b. Supporting and adapting to enable diverse contributions

c. Co-producing with people and partnering across the system

Purpose and issue focussed actions

a. Using the stages of the research cycle to structure  projects and actions

b. Using specific experiences to tackle broad themes

Our objectives

  1. We co-produced and conducted an online anonymous survey among staff and postgraduate students at UHS NHS Foundation Trust and relevant Faculties at the University of Southampton in Feb-March 2023. Detailed survey methods and results are being prepared as a paper for publication.

  2. We aimed to explore current views to help achieve more equitable research and practice environments that support career development of affiliated academic and healthcare staff in a transparent manner within the NIHR partnerships.

  3. The survey was a partnership between the BRC, CRF and the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) Wessex, as some of the research workforce are affiliated to more than one NIHR Partnership. The results of this survey were intended to help inform our EDI strategy and action plan. A summary of the results is included in Appendices 3 and 4.


Appendix 1 NIHR Southampton BRC Key Principles

NIHR Southampton BRC Key Principles


  1. Focus: on delivering our shared vision for the benefit of patients and the public.

  2.  Integration: working seamlessly across themes (BRC) and across specialist teams (CRF).

  3.  Democratisation: working with patients, the public, and the healthcare workforce throughout the research lifecycle.

  4.  Person-centeredness: creating an environment that is nurturing and supportive of our (multidisciplinary and diverse) academic talent, patient partners and other stakeholders.

  5.  Inclusivity: embedding equality, diversity and intersectionality, ensuring we 'leave no one behind'.

  6.  Collaboration: enhancing our science by promoting interdisciplinary working and seeking the most effective partners (patients, public and professional) regionally, nationally, and internationally.

  7. Efficiency: relentlessly pursuing value for money and efficient operation through strong governance, shared infrastructure, partnership working and effective and equitable goal-driven leadership.

Appendix 2 Examples of activities and actions informing NIHR  Southampton BRC/CRF EDI maturity level
  1. NIHR Race Equality Framework pilot site – including self-assessment process, identified gaps in data and specific action plans, including national case study allyship intervention:

    1. Target of 80% of all UHS-based research staff completion of Actionable Allyship training course by April 2024

    2. 100% of NIHR Southampton BRC/CRF senior management completion of Actionable Allyship training, by April 2024 (originally by April 2023, affected by Trust-wide training capacity)

  2. Open diversity meetings facilitated by the interim NIHR BRC EDI Champion, gathering views, evidence base regarding research workforce perceptions of BRC diversity, inclusion and equity, as part of BRC 2022-27 development.

  3. Major CRN-led project establishing comprehensive diversity picture for UHS-wide study participants, gaps in coverage and key targets for improving this. Southampton is the first organisation to implement the Wessex-wide research participant diversity-mapping project linked to NHS number, aiming to provide data on which to improve.

  4. Follow-on, ethics-approved workforce survey led by interim NIHR BRC EDI Champion to expand insights and data on BRC workforce and associate diversity, and perceptions of BRC culture and role regarding EDI.

  5. Head of Research Engagement and Impact membership of UHS EDI committee, NIHR BRC EDI Champion membership of Culture workstream within UoS Faculty of Medicine Transformation Programme.

  6. Specification of an EDI function and dedicated budget as an integral component of our cross-infrastructure Southampton Centre of Research Engagement & Impact.

  7. Appointment of a joint NIHR BRC, CRF, ARC and CRN Community Engagement manager to advance coordinated, enduring engagement with diverse communities.

  8. £100k NHS England Research Engagement Network Development joint award in 2023 with our local Integrated Care Board (ICB), working to engage a diverse range of communities with research through ICB activities.

  9. Readability requirement of age 9 for all professional-produced patient-facing materials, with an acceptance threshold of age 12, for all news, online and stakeholder communications.

  10. Digital development project optimising accessibility of NIHR BRC and CRF websites.

  11. 11. Piloting of co-produced multi-lingual research awareness materials, in the five main languages other than English spoken in Southampton City and surrounds.

Appendix 3 Summary of findings from the workforce survey

Forty-seven responses were received from clinicians, clinical academics, academics, laboratory technicians and administrative/management staff. Around a third of responses each were from those identifying at early, mid and senior career levels. Three-quarters of the responses were received from Women (75%) and a quarter from those who identify as with non-White ethnicity (26%). A quarter of responses (25.5%) were from individuals who considered themselves as having a disability.

Participants were keen to access opportunities to contribute to the BRC/CRF regardless of their role and to the future of the partnerships and felt that this would support their career progression. More transparency and role modelling of inclusive behaviours were also ranked highly as ways the BRC/CRF could support career progression (Figure 4).

For early career researchers, wider PhD recruitment, specific support opportunities following completion of PhD, and training and career development opportunities were identified as high priority for support.

For early career researchers not currently affiliated to an NIHR partnership, strengthening training and career development opportunities and being more open to specialties/career pathways other than clinical medicine were identified as high priority for support.

The main barriers to career progression that participants reported were insecurity of research funding; limited support and training opportunities; and maintaining a work-life balance.

Participants indicated that they thought a more diverse representation of individuals with protected characteristics, as well as specific clinical specialties and non-clinical pathways were needed across the Partnerships. Participants were asked about support they had previously experienced elsewhere that could benefit the BRC/CRF and the key areas were around mentoring, leadership training and support. Improving communication about activities and more opportunities for working across themes would help change culture to being more welcoming, diverse and equitable. 80% of participants affiliated to a NIHR partnership reported willingness to engage in reverse mentoring, but only 59% of those not affiliated.

Appendix 4 Preliminary survey results in answer to the question “How can the NIHR Partnerships support career progression for someone with your characteristics?

The figure represents the number of responses received for each option. Participants were asked to select a minimum of two options.

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