Members of the forum are: British Academy, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, GuildHE, National Institute for Health Research, Office for Students, Royal Society, The Royal Society of Chemistry, UKRI, Universities UK and Wellcome. The Leverhulme Trust and National Science Foundation (USA) will attend meetings as regular observers.
Senior programme manager of inclusion and diversity Laura Norton said: "We need to recognise that bullying and harassment are systemic in academic institutions, and that the leadership in academia has the opportunity and responsibility to lead culture change.
“We are proud to be a member of the UKRI forum as it marks a bold next step in tackling and eliminating bullying and harassment in the workplace. We will continue to work to improve research culture in the chemical sciences – and through our support line we provide a listening ear and signposting to many in the community – but we must work collaboratively and inclusively at a sector wide level to see further change.”
Called the Forum for Tackling Bullying and Harassment in Research and Innovation, the group will meet quarterly to work together at a system level by:
- campaigning at a sector-level to raise awareness and bring about culture change, focusing on prevention and a healthy research culture
- sharing and disseminating learning and practice across organisations
- promoting collaboration to maximise the impact of policies and resources and reduce bureaucracy wherever possible.
Priorities for the first year will include improving data and definitions, including approaches to policy evaluation and measuring progress. The effectiveness of funders’ policies and practices will also be examined, including requirements of research organisations, and guidance will be provided for what good behaviours and practices look like.
Summaries of discussions will be published on the UKRI website and the public will have the opportunity to bring topics to discuss with the forum. While the forum will involve regulators, it is not itself a regulatory or whistleblowing institution and will not pursue individual cases.
UKRI chief executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser said: “The Forum announced today is an important step toward realising our vision of fostering a safe and supportive environment for all. The forum will improve collaboration, raise awareness and share learning and resources across the sector.”
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “It is so important that our brilliant scientists and researchers are able to drive forward their innovative ideas in a culture of fair treatment and respect.
“Promoting health and wellbeing is a personal priority of mine and the creation of a research sector-led forum will address this issue of bullying and harassment head-on, helping to stamp it out once and for all, at every level of the UK’s research community.”