Taking Steps Towards Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion in Yorkshire & Humber ARC Research


by Christine Smith, Ruby Bhatti OBE & Joyce Fox

We want all people and communities in Yorkshire & Humber to benefit from our research.  To do this we aim to follow best practice and have the highest standards of equality, diversity and inclusion in all our research. 

The NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) are leading efforts to put the latest NIHR Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy into practice within their research programs. Some ARCs have developed toolkits while others have developed strategies focused on “mainstreaming” EDI.

Here at ARC Yorkshire & Humber, we have set up a program to embed EDI best practice into our research. This includes:

  • setting up an EDI Group
  • developing an EDI Strategy
  • mapping regional public involvement assets
  • monitoring the diversity of our staff and research participants

These activities will allow us to better understand where we need to improve our inclusion practices.

We are running a pilot project to assess the use of Equality Impact Assessments on new projects.  An Equality Impact Assessment is a process that allows researchers to understand how their research or their way of working might inadvertently exclude people or communities.  Researchers can then make plans to better include people from these communities, being mindful of their needs.  In this pilot project, which was looking at how to reduce trips to A&E from Care Homes, we used the Equality Impact Assessment toolkit developed by the ARC East Midlands to see how it might improve our inclusion practices. 

This infographic summarises our learning from this pilot project.   The key findings of the pilot project are:

  • The Equality Impact Assessment process led to evidence-based and transparent changes to the research protocol (ways of working), which considered the diversity of all participants.
  • The toolkit enabled researchers to think differently about how their research might impact various communities and what changes were needed to maximise inclusion.
  • The Equality Impact Assessment acted as a useful handover document when there were changes in research staff, capturing the underlying thinking behind decisions.
  • Conducting an Equality Impact Assessment is a collaborative process that requires a team approach and multiple perspectives, rather than just one person.
  • The Equality Impact Assessment process should be an integrated, flexible process that is aligned with the research timeline, rather than being a rigid, separate exercise.

The implications for Yorkshire & Humber ARC are that:

  • It is essential to have a mentorship or advisory infrastructure in place to support researchers in undertaking Equality Impact Assessments effectively.
  • Training should be provided to researchers to help them understand and then apply the Equality Impact Assessment toolkit.

The end goal of our EDI work is to develop an EDI mainstream approach for the next phase of ARC funding, that embeds EDI considerations from project scoping through implementation and evaluation. By taking proactive steps now, we can help ensure our research promotes equal opportunity and benefits all populations equitably. 

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