A guest blog by Emma Hadfield-Hudson (she/her): NIHR Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager
I joined the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) in 2022 at an exciting time. In 2021 Best Research for Best Health: The Next Chapter was published. In this report, the NIHR reaffirmed their commitment to inclusion as a key operating principle. Dr Esther Mukuka was appointed as the first Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), and she put together the team that I joined who work nationally across the whole NIHR community. NIHR’s commitment to inclusion provided us with an important opportunity to make positive changes, and to embed EDI in everything we do.
The first step on this journey was the development of the NIHR’s first EDI strategy 2022-2027 and action plan. Both of these are designed to consolidate our commitments and provide us with ways to embed best practice. We need to learn from others in the health and care research sector and ensure everything we do aligns with our mission of improving the health and wealth of the nation through research. NIHR has a large people framework. This covers everyone who works with us, as well as some of our stakeholders. The EDI strategy focuses on improving equality, diversity and inclusion for all groups covered under the people framework, based on five 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
- Collaborate with partners for impact and sustainability
Embedding strategic priorities
So how will we know if we are making positive changes, or if we are successful? There are many facets to this. Embedding EDI in all our systems, culture and processes is a priority. We need to ensure our research and advisory workforce is more diverse. Access and participation in health and social research needs to be far wider. And our ideal future is one where EDI has become second nature to all members of the extended NIHR community.
Work has begun on the delivery of the EDI strategy in nursing and midwifery at the NIHR. Discussions around inclusive processes and practices resulted in a detailed review of the advert and application process for the Senior Research Leader Programme for Nurses and Midwives.
The process of embedding Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs) in nursing and midwifery is underway. EIA’s have been completed for various programmes including the NIHR Principal Investigator Pipeline Programme (PIPP) which will pilot in early 2023.
System wide action
To achieve success, things need to happen at many different levels. We need the entire NIHR community to contribute to the ongoing strategy delivery. Nurses, midwives and AHPs are central to this work. This starts with you as an individual. You can commit to creating an inclusive working culture and to speak up when things don’t feel right. Consider using Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs) within your teams. This can help to identify how inclusive processes are and mitigate and/or remove potential barriers for certain groups.
As a starting point, consider how developed your own EDI provisions or practices are. You might look at maturity models to get a sense of where you are on your own organisational journey. Identify tangible and achievable goals, both in the short and long term. It’s important to celebrate achievements along the way, big or small and to learn from things that don’t go so well. This all contributes towards positive culture change.
During 2023 there will be many projects to look out for. This includes the NIHR’s first Disability Framework, an embedded approach on the use of EIAs and inclusive language guidance. Resources will be available via the NIHR website or the NIHR Learn platform, which is accessible to anyone with an ac.uk or nhs.net e-mail address.
To contact the NIHR EDI Team: firstname.lastname@example.org