Advancing Diversity and Inclusion at Agile

A colorful, thriving tropical coral reef surrounded by tropical fish.

This week, the Agile Programme Team is pleased to share our new Diversity and Inclusion Plan. Developing and publishing this plan provided an opportunity for us to reflect on the connections between equality, diversity and inclusion and the environmental sciences. Here, we offer some of the challenges, thinking, and goals that have informed our D&I Plan.

Climate change, environmental degradation, and biodiversity loss have impacts that are unevenly felt by marginalised groups around the globe, across the UK, and in our local communities. Although the people living closest to the problem are usually best equipped to create the solution, they are frequently left out of decision making. Marginalised researchers and stakeholders deserve better opportunities to generate and use knowledge about protecting the natural environment. This is the research context in which the Agile Initiative operates, and we recognize that we have room for improvement.

Working in consultation with Aduke Onafowokan from Inclusivitii, Agile developed our Diversity and Inclusion Plan to outline commitments and actions to improve on four key areas: governance and accountability, researcher and research diversity, inclusive culture, and inclusive communications, engagement, and impact. Agile offers a space to try new things, learn, and improve. Implicit in our approach is the possibility of failure, so we commit to listening and taking action that can help us do better.

Agile’s Diversity and Inclusion Plan aligns with the Equality Act 2010, the Natural Environment Research Council’s (NERC’s) diversity and inclusion living action plan 2022-2025, and the University of Oxford’s Equality Policy. We recognize the importance of balancing compliance with a values-driven approach. This will ensure that Agile can develop a solid and enduring culture that protects and celebrates difference, challenges prejudice, and ensures fairness.

We are curious about how our experimental, boundary-pushing programme can instigate more committed, confident, and creative approaches to diversity and inclusion. For example, Sprint research is developed through a co-creation process between researchers, policy makers, and other decision makers. We are asking ourselves what perspectives are missing in these conversations? Who has the networks and know-how to engage with government leaders? Who is already pushing for policy change that we need to know about?

With our D&I Plan, we are prepared to act on these questions. Agile will develop guidance on research practices that advance diversity and inclusion. Tailored support will be available to researchers throughout the application and co-creation process. Sprint researchers will also gain skills for inclusive, wide-reaching stakeholder outreach and engagement. We are also ready for the new questions that will arise from putting our commitments into practice.

To advance diversity and inclusion, trust and mutually beneficial relationships are essential. We are excited about learning from and contributing to equality, diversity, and inclusion leadership within the University of Oxford, NERC, and across the environmental sciences more broadly. We want to fulfil our diversity and inclusion commitments and support others to do the same. We encourage other research initiatives with similar equality, diversity and inclusion objectives to engage with our Diversity and Inclusion Plan and we welcome feedback.

We have a call for new Sprints open now. If you are a researcher at Oxford University, working on environmental and climate-related issues, this is a great opportunity to get involved. We strongly encourage applications from researchers who are marginalised based on gender, race, ethnicity, and disability, for example. The deadline to apply is midday (GMT) on 15th March 2024.

If you have any questions or comments regarding Agile’s Diversity and Inclusion Plan, or if you would like to receive the plan in another format, please contact our EDI Officer, Stephanie Perrin (she/her):

Read the plan here: Agile Initiative Diversity and Inclusion Plan March 2024