The Department of Life Sciences is working to foster a culture that is diverse and inclusive for staff and students. This is not merely to comply with UK legislation with respect to protected characteristics (age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, and pregnancy and maternity). Rather, we want to ensure that we recruit and retain talent from the widest possible pool, and to establish a healthy and supportive working environment where everyone feels able to be who they are.
Our policy on recruitment therefore requires staff involved to take proactive steps to encourage applications from women and people from ethnic minorities. This entails identifying and directly contacting potential candidates to ensure that the pool of applicants, and ultimately the shortlist, properly reflects the pool of available talent. To emphasise that this proactive approach needs to be effective, shortlists are monitored within the department; we now also have a standing policy that all-male shortlists are not acceptable. As a Disability Confident employer, we will guarantee an interview for any applicants with a disability who meet the essential criteria for the position.
Our active broadening of approaches to potential candidates recognises that some people are more hesitant than others about putting themselves forward. But we wish to be encouraging and outward-looking, recognising that diversity brings real strengths to any organisation. We are determined always to make appointments on merit, evaluated robustly, intelligently and, for academic positions, in accordance with the principles of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA). The department commits to providing feedback to all candidates who were encouraged to apply in the event that they be unsuccessful.
Our recruitment policy also requires all staff involved in appointments to have attended relevant training. This includes courses on Unconscious Bias (run occasionally within the department) and at least the online component of the College’s Recruitment and Selection course.
Our students come from diverse backgrounds and we continue to successfully improve student recruitment in terms of numbers and diversity. Studentships are advertised widely using a combination of centralized (DTP website, FindaPhD.com) and distributed (supervisor-led) advertising. There are several PhD studentships (e.g. UKRI funded, President scholarship, Departmental fellowships, industrial partnership) that students can apply to including a Widening Participation studentship to further increase the diversity of PG in DoLS. PG students receive trainings throughout their studies to acquire or further develop skills towards successful graduation.
Our post-graduate students achieve academic excellence and often graduate having published their work in peer-reviewed journal. They are encouraged to showcase their scientific achievements and presentation skills to their peers and to academic staff members at departmental symposiums. Also, most students have opportunities to attend national and international conferences to disseminate their work, gain insightful feedback and help establish their reputation in their field of research. Some students are playing an integral role in the organization of meetings hosted by their lab or by UK research community-focused meeting that help further strengthening their research network.
The Department greatly values age diversity. We strive to create the conditions to fully engage in the educational and social life of the Department for students of all age groups, including older learners and individuals who are returning to higher education after a career break or a carrier in a different sector.