How we're making our researcher meetings more inclusive

We know that lack of diversity is a systemic problem in science and research, but there are lots of things we can do to help create a better culture. That’s why we’re working to make our researcher meetings more inclusive.

Three meeting participants talking to each other

Credit: David Sandison / Wellcome

The Science division runs a range of meetings for our 800-plus funded researchers each year. These meetings help researchers to network, share their results and hear more about Wellcome’s work. 

This year, as part our commitment to diversity and inclusion, we decided to focus on making these meetings more inclusive. We asked our colleagues in the diversity and inclusion team to help, and trialled the approach with one meeting.

What did we do?

Our approach to the meeting included: 

  • developing a code of conduct to set out our expectations of participants 
  • providing extra support if there were barriers to participants attending, for example offering to pay for childcare or a palantypist
  • arranging for a quiet room to be available 
  • sharing details about the accessibility of the venue beforehand, so that participants felt comfortable when they arrived.  

We also wanted to make sure that a diverse range of people were invited to speak. This raised many questions, for example: 

'Is it acceptable to ask the same women to speak two years’ in a row because we want to have a gender-balanced panel?'

Instead of ignoring these questions, we wanted to be transparent. We added some information to the meeting booklet to outline the initiatives we were trialling and to highlight the challenges we still face. We encouraged participants to speak to us if they wanted to discuss this.

Tips for embedding diversity and inclusion in your work

  • There’s no quick fix – embedding diversity and inclusion is a process of continuous improvement. The changes we implemented at the October meeting were part of a trial, and we knew that we wouldn’t get everything right first time. Ask for feedback at each stage and use it to progress.
  • Everyone can do something – find what’s within your control and the changes you can start to make now.
  • Challenge is a good thing – it’s OK to be a bit uncomfortable. Challenge is part of the process of learning about diversity and inclusion. Embrace it and know it’s fine to ask questions.

What's next?

This was just the start. Our goal is to make all Wellcome researcher meetings as inclusive as possible. 

We know that Wellcome alone can’t change everything. However, we hope that by making lots of small changes we can help to create a more inclusive research culture where people feel they can fully participate and contribute.

We're also keen to support our researchers to take action in their own workplaces. If you have ideas on how to make your research environment more inclusive, take a look at our Research Enrichment scheme.

More information