Recommendations for Demand Managed (DM) call organisers for promoting Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) principles
Composition of internal panels
DM call organisers are encouraged to assemble internal panels with EDI principles in mind. We note that this is not always feasible because of expertise needed as well as availability of potential panellists but we should try and avoid having, for example, only male or only female panellists. Similarly, organisers should try and set panel meetings within core University hours (10:00 – 16:00).
We appreciate that, often, senior, experienced academics are needed to ensure selection of most suitable nominees capable of bidding successfully to external funding opportunities. However, where feasible, organisers could consider academics across career stages for panels, so they gain experience of assessing candidates.
When inviting panellists, organisers need to remind them that they need to have undertaken the relevant mandatory EDI training and read the guidance on inclusive research (see links below) prior to reviewing internal applications and attending panel meetings.
Timings of processes
DM call organisers should consider the needs of applicants, reviewers, as well as their own in managing processes while setting up a timetable for submissions, assessment, and the communication of outcomes.
Where calls are recurring, it is advisable to run a process based on anticipated timing and sufficiently in advance of external deadlines. Some funders publish a pre-announcement to calls and this also presents a window of opportunity to roll out processes in a timely manner.
Where possible the questions on the EoI form should mirror funder application templates and to avoid duplication of effort. It is helpful to remember that shortlisted applicants will also need sufficient time to develop a full proposal, and internal deadlines should be set accordingly.
Communicating the DM call process
DM call organisers will need to ensure that the message communicating the DM call process reaches all staff in all relevant Institutes/Schools as well as Colleges. Please ensure that messages are circulated via mailing lists that include all staff members of an institute/school. Any key professional services staff for whom this is relevant should also be included. In this way, all potential applicants as well as EDI leads / DoR / HoS etc will be made aware about this funding opportunity and will be able to encourage and support suitable applicants.
Organisers are advised to preface the email as “Internal Process” and include a closing date for accepting expressions of interest from applicants.
Finally, where appropriate, emails should include text at the start, highlighting that certain groups are underrepresented within the applicants’ cohort and ask DoRS and mentors to encourage suitable applicants to apply regardless of any protected characteristic. Suggested text is the following:
“It has been noted that when it comes to internal expressions of interest, minoritized individuals and groups [give example] are under-represented. In this regard, institute/ School DoRs, senior academics and mentors are kindly asked to encourage suitable applicants from diverse backgrounds to apply regardless of their political opinion, age, colour, disability, ethnic or national origin, gender, marital status, race, religion/belief or sexual orientation.”
Expression of Interest (EoI) forms
DM call organisers are advised to include space within the EoI for applicants to mention any special circumstances (illness, career breaks, other) should they wish to disclose this to internal panel members (e.g. explaining why they might have been less productive with research outputs during a certain period).
Furthermore, applicants could be requested to provide their Staff ID numbers as part of the EoI form and to help with monitoring of demographic data with HR support.
Organisers could also consider anonymising EoI forms to counter unconscious bias during assessment. However, we appreciate that this will not be always feasible given the large number of EoIs, organisers receive for many calls or the nature of certain schemes where the assessment is heavily weighted towards the individual (such as Fellowships).
Sending EoIs forms to panel members / reviewers
When DM call organisers contact panel members / reviewers to score EoI forms ahead of a panel meeting, the former should remind the latter the need to adhere to EDI principles and avoid unconscious bias as well as consider any special circumstances the applicants may have disclosed when assessing their track record. In this regard, the below two links can be included in the email and reviewers should kindly be asked to spend 3 min and watch the video about unconscious bias ahead for scoring EoI forms.
DM call organisers should prepare a briefing note for the panel chair in advance. Include:
- the aim of the meeting and key assessment/selection criteria
- a reminder to the panel regarding “avoiding any bias in the assessment of proposals due the applicants’ political opinion, age, colour, disability, ethnic or national origin, gender, marital status, race, religion/belief or sexual orientation.” This reminder should also include that “Comments during meeting discussion must not contravene this policy and encourage the panel to use pronouns (they/them instead of she/he) when discussing candidates”.
- Organisers can also consider adding the link to the 3 min unconscious bias video (see above) for panel members to watch at the start of the panel meeting.
- Finally, the briefing note could also include whether there will be an EDI observer. Organisers that are often present in the meeting could take up this role, highlighting whether any comments made during the discussion are against EDI principles.