Embedding equality and diversity in researcher development

This good practice guide suggests ways in which we can embed principles of equality, diversity and inclusion in the personal, professional and development workshops that we offer to researchers. 



At the University of Glasgow, we have a commitment to ensuring that our training environment is inclusive. This guide sets out expectations for any external training providers, as well as University staff organising the workshops and for those attending.

The guide is supported by the following policies and resources: 


What does this mean in practice?

Workshop organisers should make every effort to consider the accessibility of their workshops to diverse audiences – this includes asking about special requirements, careful consideration of timing and location of events to ensure that they are accessible and providing participants with accessibility information in advance (e.g. number of steps required to get to a room, location of toilets etc.).

Speakers and facilitators should make use of microphones wherever possible and should consider whether any of their activities might exclude or be particularly stressful for some individuals, offering alternatives where possible.

Some examples of this:

  • Physical or group based activity may be challenging for some participants due to physical ability, social anxiety or cultural constraints. 
  • Multiple small group discussions in one room can sometimes be challenging for people with autism or who experience sensory overload.
  • Handouts may be required in larger print and in sans-serif fonts such as Arial (which are easier to read for people with dyslexia). 
  • The colour schemes of slides and handouts should be carefully chosen (see IOP resource on colour vision deficiency).

Case studies or speakers in a workshop should represent diversity, with careful attention paid to the roles they represent and are given.  For example, although your speaker line-up at a leadership workshop may appear to display a gender balance, it is not acceptable to draw all the male speakers from technical, leadership or academic roles, with a sole female speaker from University Services or a support / admin role, as this simply reinforces a stereotype.  

It is the role of the trainer to identify, highlight and challenge lack of diversity or unconscious biases. For example, if asked to make suggestions of famous ‘creative people’, a group of workshop participants might unconsciously suggest an all-white, all-male list.  The trainer should reflect on this with the group and support wider discussion, probing for alternative answers.

We expect that trainers would intervene if they recognise bad practice (which might include off-hand comments, ‘banter’, unconscious sexism, cultural stereotyping etc.) and challenge / support any individuals involved in a manner that is appropriate to the situation, referring to UofG support mechanisms (HR, harassment advisers etc. as appropriate). 

Language used should be inclusive and culturally sensitive. It is the trainer’s responsibility to:

  • Vary the format of discussions (plenary, pairs or small groups) to ensure an inclusive environment where everyone has the opportunity to contribute.
  • Set the tone of the event to encourage an inclusive environment and respectful listening and language in smaller group discussions.

It is important to take a sensitive and supportive approach to the gender that a person self-identifies with.   Listen and politely ask how someone wishes to be referred to (e.g. pronouns).  Avoid making assumptions when pointing out the public toilets.

The trainer has a responsibility to keep their knowledge up to date on topics relating to equality, diversity and inclusion and to be able to discuss this with participants  where relevant to the workshop topic. For example, in a discussion on teambuilding, we would expect a trainer to encourage the group to consider whether social events are accessible to people with childcare, mobility issues, who follow particular religions, etc.

AdvanceHE, the Equality Challenge Unit and Vitae have all produced materials, briefings and case studies that are relevant to the Higher Education context.  


Our list of examples is far from exhaustive and we welcome feedback and discussion on this guide from all involved in researcher development, including students, staff and external training providers.


Research and Innovation Services (contact Elizabeth Adams)

23 July 2018