Take Pride in research and innovation

Pride is an event that UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has always supported through its various components – 7 disciplinary research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. But as UKRI is a relatively new organisation (it launched in April 2018), Pride 2020 was a new opportunity to engage and support.

Delivering diversity in practice

Promoting equality, diversity and inclusion is at the heart of UKRI’s vision.

We believe that equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) – of people and ideas – is integral to excellence in research and innovation, letting us access the best talent and nurture great ideas. We, therefore, aim to embed equality, diversity and inclusion at all levels and in all that we do, both as an organisation and as a funder.

We knew we wanted to actively support the LGBT+ community through a communications campaign centred around Pride 2020 taking place in June. We wanted to use this opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to EDI more widely as part of a larger programme of communications centred on diversity and inclusion.

Our aims were to:

  • support the LBGT+ community in research and innovation through a communications campaign that results in authentic action, based on insight and evidence
  • gain insight on the challenges and opportunities in this space in order to develop strong, credible messaging and a clear campaign cause and platform
  • deliver a brand campaign that sees UKRI live its ambition of fostering an inclusive, equal and fair research and innovation culture both externally and internally
  • bring our internal and external stakeholders with us on this journey

We started planning the campaign at the start of 2020, when Coronavirus (COVID-19) was not yet a concern. Naturally, we had big plans, such as taking a rainbow Pride flag and planting it in various places of scientific importance – the deepest mine, into space and in the Arctic.

As we began to gather ideas, COVID-19 became more of a concern, and our grand plans had to be rethought. Our campaign – Take Pride in research and innovation – became fundamentally about highlighting stories.

As well as updating our logos and branding to incorporate the Pride flag, we decided to create a podcast, where staff could have an open and honest discussion around Pride and EDI in UKRI and the research and innovation sector more broadly. We also created a range of videos, where our staff told personal stories and perspectives about their journey and career.

Creating an inclusive environment

We heard a range of perspectives from the UKRI LGBTQ+ community and were humbled by the willingness of our colleagues to participate, share and engage in our campaign. Their openness in sharing both their challenges and successes has been an inspiration too. Through these discussions, we have gained valuable insight into the LGBTQ+ community at UKRI.

The videos and podcast were warmly received, with tweets such as ‘Well done UKRI’ and ‘Simply wonderful’ and some good engagement rates.

Internally, 25% of all UKRI staff (over 7,000 people) viewed our content. 75% of staff who responded to our survey said they felt the campaign raised the visibility of LGBTQ+ staff; 73% that they had gained insight; and 50% that they felt it has helped them feel they can be more open at work. Externally, the response to our #PrideMonth tweets exceeded other UKRI campaigns (for example 203 retweets and 398 likes compared to 39 retweets and 83 likes) and our hero video had over 16,000 views.

What’s next?

We achieved greater visibility and insight on perspectives of LGBTQ+ community within UKRI, and greater visible engagement and support of Pride throughout Pride Month. As a result of campaign insight, HR is setting up a dedicated network for LGBTQ+ staff. We also have anecdotal evidence of really making a difference for stakeholders: ‘I can now feel proud to work for UKRI’ and ‘Your work has made a big difference to how UKRI feels as an organisation’

We feel like we made a good start engaging with our community, but there’s always more we can do. We’ll be supporting the event in a similar way this year, engaging, promoting and celebrating the vital role of diversity in research and innovation.

Further information

UKRI is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It is made up of the UK’s seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.

With thanks to all our campaign contributors: Alex Marsh, Alan Cross, Josh Newman, Izzy Jayasinghe, Kim Hackett, Tim Willis, Jack Smith and Nick Warr, Phil Carvil, Harsh Pershad and Tom Welton.

    Image credit:
  • UK Research and Innovation team (1)