Norwich Bioscience Institutes join Stonewall Diversity Champions programme

21st June 2023

The Quadram Institute and Earlham Institute have signed up to the Diversity Champions programme run by Stonewall, as part of collective commitments to creating diverse and inclusive research environments.

The Stonewall Diversity Champion logo which says the text in white on a black backgroundAt the same time, the John Innes Centre has renewed its membership, having been part of the Diversity Champions programme since 2016.

With direct links and close collaborations, the joint membership means LGBTQ+ staff, students, and visitors at all three institutes will benefit from a consistent level of support.

Making the announcement during Pride month, the institutes have reaffirmed long standing pledges to their LGBTQ+ employees, collaborators, and the wider research community.

All three institutes are strategically supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UKRI. Together, they employ around 650 people and host a large cohort of students, as well as being part of the thriving community on the Norwich Research Park.

While supporting the LGBTQ+ community is already part of their work, it is hoped coordination through the Diversity Champions programme will enhance and standardise policies and practices – something that is particularly important given the joint appointments and collaborative nature of researchers based on the Park.

Stonewall is a global LGBTQ+ rights charity working to realise a world where all lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, questioning, and ace people are free to be themselves and live their lives to the full.

Their Diversity Champions programme was launched in 2001 and is designed to give employers the confidence and tools they need to become LGBTQ+ inclusive leaders, helping them to attract, support, and retain LGBTQ+ talent.

Covering all aspects of the workplace environment and employee journey, the programme helps to implement best practice for policies and processes that might otherwise negatively impact people from the LGBTQ+ community.

The Norwich Bioscience Institutes (NBI) LGBTQ+ working group was created in January 2019 and has played a central role in calling for and developing initiatives to promote workplace inclusivity, including the Diversity Champions programme. With a diverse membership representing all of the NBI partners, the group provides a united voice for the LGBTQ+ community on the Norwich Research Park and will be heavily involved in directing activity for the programme.

Emilie Knight, Research Assistant in the Borrill Group at the John Innes Centre, and chair of the NBI LGBTQ+ working group, said: “The group welcomes the joint membership and hopes that it will help our institutes move forward together in ensuring that the LGBTQ+ community is respected and valued.”

Professor Ian Charles, Director of Quadram Institute Bioscience, said: “Science is a diverse and collaborative process and always benefits from an inclusive and open-minded research culture which embraces difference and the Diversity Champions programme will benefit us all.”

Professor Neil Hall, Director of the Earlham Institute, said: “The Diversity Champions programme gives us the framework, guidance, and advice we need to embed inclusivity in the Earlham Institute. That allows us to support everyone to bring their whole selves to work and thrive in their careers.

“Research shows many members of the LGBTQ+ community continue to feel demeaned by colleagues or limited in their opportunities. That is unacceptable. We’re committed to doing better for all marginalised groups so that everyone feels this is a safe and supportive environment, where all of their energy can be focused on delivering world-class research.”

Charley Crabb, Client Account Manager at Stonewall, said: “Workplace inclusion matters. Most of us rely on work for our financial livelihood. For some, our work forms a fundamental part of how we see ourselves. That’s why workplace inclusion is central to our mission. We know inclusion changes lives for the better.”

LGBTQ+ people thrive in work environments where they are valued and respected, and inclusive work environments make everyone happier and safer. But there is still a long way to go.

Research from Stonewall has shown more than a third of LGBT staff have hidden that they are LGBTQ+ at work for fear of discrimination. Nearly two in five bi people aren’t out to anyone at work. And around half of trans people have hidden their identity at work for fear of discrimination.

Dr Clare Stevenson, John Innes Centre Head of Directorate, said: “The John Innes Centre has been a member of the Diversity Champions programme since 2016, and look forward to working with the other institutes here on Norwich Research Park in creating a research environment that welcomes everyone.”

As part of the Diversity Champions programme, each of the institutes will have the opportunity to report their activity and take part in the Workplace Equality Index – the definitive benchmarking tool for employers to measure their progress on lesbian, gay, bi and trans inclusion in the workplace.