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Advance HE working in partnership with Wellcome to improve board diversity in research

18 May 2021 | Advance HE We're running a new pilot programme for Wellcome to help researchers and professional services staff from underrepresented groups get appointed to the board.

Advance HE has been commissioned by Wellcome to design and run a new pilot programme which aims to help researchers and professional services staff from underrepresented groups be appointed to boards and governing bodies. 

Working in partnership with Wellcome, Advance HE will run a one-year pilot development programme to encourage board diversity with 10 fully-funded places for women, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals or disabled people in research. 

Wellcome has put diversity, equity and inclusion at the heart of its new strategy and equality, diversity and inclusion is a fundamental part of Advance HE’s new strategy to help shape the future of higher education, which makes particular reference to improving board diversity.

A diverse range of voices, experiences and behaviours enhance the effectiveness and culture of governance boards, yet Advance HE’s first ever report into the diversity of UK university and research institute governing bodies shows underrepresentation of women, BAME and disabled people.

Success on the board: unlocking the power of underrepresented voices in research will prepare participants to access opportunities on decision-making boards and committees and give guidance on how to navigate the challenges. 

The diversity of higher education and research boards in the UK remains a key challenge, and the diversity of backgrounds and perspectives on boards does not reflect the research community or wider society.

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Wellcome to develop this critically important programme which will support the expertise of these currently underrepresented voices and strengthen the efficacy of boards across the sector.”

Alison Johns, Advance HE Chief Executive

We are proud to be working in partnership with Advance HE to develop a pilot programme to increase gender, ethnicity and disability representation on UK higher education boards.

“By equipping more people to contribute to leadership at this level, we hope to increase diversity directly amongst key decision makers. Such changes in leadership of research will be essential to help build a better research culture – one that is creative, inclusive and honest.”

Lauren Couch, Wellcome’s Associate Director of Culture, Equity & Inclusion


About Wellcome

Wellcome supports science to solve the urgent health challenges facing everyone. We support discovery research into life, health and wellbeing, and we’re taking on three worldwide health challenges: mental health, global heating and infectious diseases.

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