15 June 2016

BIS held an event to raise awareness of their intent to improve the diversity of STEM public appointments. Naomi Weir asks, 'Could you be involved in strategic leadership in science & engineering?'

In our 2014 report, Improving Diversity in STEM, one of the overarching asks to Government was that they take a proactive approach to improving the diversity of public appointments which BIS are responsible for. Across government the figures are slightly better, but looking solely at public appointments made by BIS ministers in 2012/13 (the latest data available when the report was written), 77% were male and 96% were white and none had a declared disability. Diversity can be an end in itself on the grounds of equal opportunity. But it is also desirable in terms bringing a diversity of viewpoints, background and experience together to improve decision-making for the benefit, in this instance, of UK research and innovation.

I was therefore delighted to attend a BIS event last week, hosted by the Royal Society, which was seeking to encourage a more diverse range of people to put themselves forward for public appointments. Sajid Javid, Jo Johnson and Baroness Neville-Rolfe were all in attendance. Outside of the Cabinet Room, it is a rare thing indeed to see three ministers in one place so it is clear that this is a priority for BIS with full support from the top, which is great to see.

The event was timed to coincide with the publication of a number of vacancies for non-exec roles within MRC, EPSRC, STFC, and ESRC and we were all encouraged either to apply ourselves or to spread the word. So this is my contribution to spreading the word. The full list of public appointments being advertised can be found on the Cabinet Office website.

Take a look.

Apply.

Pass on the information to someone you think might be interested. Particularly if you are in a senior position, are there others who work within your teams who aren’t yet 55 and don’t already hold a number of non-exec posts who you could encourage to apply?

It is great to see BIS taking action to improve the diversity of those involved in strategic decision making for research and innovation. What action could you take?

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