Press Release: Research Councils announce an Unconscious Bias training programme for all peer reviewers and funding decision-makers

The seven UK Research Councils launched a new programme today for all peer reviewers and decision-makers, to raise awareness and reduce the impact of unconscious bias.

Over a period of three years, beginning in January 2016, more than 1,300 people involved in peer review from all seven Research Councils will be given access to high quality training designed and developed by the Research Councils and Pearn Kandola (www.pearnkandola.com). Rob Barkworth, the programme manager at Pearn Kandola said: “I’m really excited to be working alongside the RCUK to help them focus on the important topic of Unconscious Bias. Unconscious bias is a normal component of our psychological makeup. Only by acknowledging and understanding our own unconscious bias can we find ways of learning how to reduce its effect and introduce techniques to eliminate bias in our organisations.” The training will also be translated into an online application and made available to all geographically dispersed Research Council peer review staff.

Professor Jackie Hunter, Chair of the Research Councils’ Equality and Diversity Group and Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), added: “Raising awareness of unconscious bias strengthens the Research Councils’ commitment to addressing equality and diversity. Together, the Research Councils invest £3 billion in research each year, covering all disciplines and sectors, to meet tomorrow’s challenges today. Ensuring that fair decisions are made in peer review and funding is of the utmost importance.”

Notes to editors

Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK’s seven Research Councils. Their collective ambition is to ensure the UK remains the best place in the world to do research, innovate and grow business. The Research Councils are central to delivering research and innovation for economic growth and societal impact. Together they invest £3 billion in research each year, covering all disciplines and sectors, to meet tomorrow’s challenges today. For more information about their work go to: www.rcuk.ac.uk.

The seven UK Research Councils are:

  • Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) – www.ahrc.ac.uk
  • Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) – www.bbsrc.ac.uk
  • Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) – www.esrc.ac.uk
  • Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) – www.epsrc.ac.uk
  • Medical Research Council (MRC) – www.mrc.ac.uk
  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) – www.nerc.ac.uk
  • Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) – www.stfc.ac.uk

Established in 1984, Pearn Kandola business psychologists (www.pearnkandola.com) have over 30 years’ experience working in partnership with public and private sector organisations across the UK and internationally to design and deliver innovative and impactful diversity, development and assessment projects. Their research into and work in the field of Diversity and Inclusion, and in particular on Unconscious Bias and Inclusive Leadership, led by Prof Binna Kandola OBE (www.pearnkandola.com/binna-kandola), has gained them international recognition as leaders in the field.

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