Research leaders have a responsibility to create inclusive and safe environments where the quality and integrity of research and innovation is not compromised. An emotionally safe and open group culture can only enhance your team’s ability to thrive, take risks, build trust and be honest and open with one another. All too often, the statistics show that this is not always the case in research environments. As a research leader, you are a role model and are contributing to the culture in the sectors. Here, we give you some resources and signpost to establish good practices, starting with your own team and colleagues.

We have curated resources below to link to support and training available at Imperial and elsewhere that will enable you to be an inclusive and supportive leader.

Tips and guidance

Creating a positive culture for your group and your community – tip sheets

Related topics

Communicating a positive group culture and being inclusive

How do you make sure that all lab members know what is expected of them and what they can expect from each other? Is the group being truly inclusive and do new starters feel welcome?

Creating a flexible document that outlines the ethos of your research lab or group can help with outlining the different roles within the lab, explain what is expected of all lab members, provide an overview of the culture the lab aims to create, and describe how the lab supports its members so that they can develop as researchers.

The WIN Handbook Team at The University of Oxford have created a set of resources to motivate and help you to develop your own Lab Handbook:

  • Lab Handbook Video: This provides an overview of Lab Handbooks and guidance for writing.
  • Lab Handbook Template: This template consists of a series of questions to build the structure of your Lab Handbook.
  • Example Lab Handbook: This Lab Handbook was written by the Physics group at the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging.

Managing diversity in your team

Many managers are anxious about making reasonable adjustments to working practices and environments, dealing with performance issues, or simply about doing or saying the wrong thing when they have team members with protected characteristics.  Don’t avoid acting for fear of doing something wrong or to wait for things to go away.  This can lead to more problems.  You can request one to one support to discuss and plan your approach to managing team members with diverse needs and enabling them to work to their full potential. 

  • For urgent needs, HR, assisted by the EDI Centre will offer you one to one support and guidance.  You can also book a micro-coaching session for managers to talk through a tricky challenge you may be facing.
  • For non-urgent needs, you can contact the EDI Centre, read the College EDI strategy and attend the EDI training suggested among our resources below.
  • In particular, consult the College advice on how to be a white ally, and undertake active bystander training at your earliest opportunity. Encourage your team to do the same.
  • In research, autism is more common than in the general population and it is likely that you will manage researchers who are on the autistic spectrum. The College EDI Centre can work with the National Autistic Society to provide work needs assessments to ensure that you can make any recommended adjustments to enable your team member to thrive in their work.  

Your obligations to the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers

Imperial became a signatory to the Concordat to support the career development of researchers (pdf) (“the Concordat”) in March 2020. Progress against the Concordat action plan is published annually.  You can view the current action plan and learn about progress on the Concordat webpage. 

The Concordat is an agreement between funders and employers of researchers in the UK. It aims to set the “gold standard of researcher development” by committing funders, institutions, researchers and managers of researchers to create a healthy and supportive research environment and culture for researchers to realise their potential.

The Concordat specifies obligations that you, as a manager of researchers, should uphold.  The PI Code of Practice  incorporates these obligations and details your responsibilities as a line manager of early career researchers at Imperial. 

Resources for supporting your team’s mental health and wellbeing 

If a member of your team is stressed, suffering from mental health issues, physical illness or disabilities you (and they) might find some of the following blogs and resources helpful:  

Related topics 


Internal resources and guidance

The PI Code of Practice  details your responsibilities as line manager of Early Career Researchers at Imperial.

Relevant training provided by People and Organisational Development:  

External resources and guidance

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