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Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Envision's background

Envision is committed to improving equality, diversity and inclusion in the the postgraduate community in environmental science. We are recruiting 80 PhD students over five cohorts and have a responsibility to ensure that these students come from diverse backgrounds, are treated equally once they arrive and are accepted in the scientific community.

Our goal is to build a happy, diverse and supportive cohort of students who can utilise the experience garnered from their Envision projects to allow them to progress into successful careers in their chosen specialities.

We are committed to challenging the standard concept of academic excellence and our primary concern is for that of the welfare of our students. We strongly believe in providing the skills and knowledge to allow all students the opportunity to make a real impact within the academic community.

What is Envision currently doing?

Envision has shared a document setting out best practice when recruiting with all supervisors who are advertising a PhD project for Envision. The advice set out in this document will be monitored by the Envision team. This includes the following advice to help improve our EDI practices across Envision:

  • All supervisors who are on a shortlisting or recruitment panel for Envision must have had bias training or EDI training before carrying out PhD student recruitment with Envision applicants.
  • PhD project supervisory teams, shortlisting and interview panels must be diverse. For example, please include academics with a mix of gender, ethnicity and career stage (you may also consider including current PhD students), in the same way that breadth of subject expertise is considered.
  • Potential supervisors are encouraged to collaborate with industry/external partners on PhD projects, as the visibility of career opportunities beyond academia is a key consideration for some communities of students.
  • Supervisors must report who they have invited to interview to help with diversity monitoring.
  • Supervisors must ensure that invitations to interview are sent with sufficient notice (at least 1 week) to allow for preparation, considering that the applicant may have pre-existing and immoveable caring or financial commitments.
  • Give all interviewees the option to accept an in-person or virtual interview slot (Covid guidance dependant) and ensure they know that this will have no bearing on the outcome of the interview.
  • Supervisors must ensure that there is a member of the interview panel who is independent of the supervisory team.
  • Supervisors must ensure that a link to ‘Academic Gender Bias in Reference Writing’ is given when requesting references.

Updates to the Envision website and application process have been made to make it more welcoming to applicants from a diverse range of backgrounds.

  • Update the monitoring questions that we ask on the application form to improve the quality of data we collect on this subject. This will help us when planning future activities in this area. Update the disclaimer in this section to make sure it is clear to people why we are collecting this data.
  • Ensure that the funding provided for Envision studentships is very clear. These are fully funded studentships with additional support for disabled students and those requiring maternity/paternity/caring leave. All of our studentships have the option of being completed on a full time or part time basis.
  • The application process has been revamped to ensure it is simple to understand.
  • We now include a clear statement of eligibility for applicants on our website, which explicitly encourages applications from underrepresented groups.
  • We provide names and contacts details of the staff who can answer questions about admissions and provide assistance, and clearly state that they are not on the recruitment panels.

Envision has updated its project advertising to ensure that we target applicants from under represented groups. In the 20/21 recruitment round we will:

  • Advertise Envision PhD projects on the Black British in STEM website.
  • Contact postgraduate recruitment teams at ethnically diverse universities with adverts about our PhD projects.
  • Promote our PhD projects on Twitter tagging relevant groups.
  • Create a promotional video to use when advertising using current students to sell the benefits of being an Envision student.
  • Create career aspiration pieces (written or videoed) from current Envision students to help with advertising.

The central Envision team will also complete the following:

  • Collect unconscious bias training information for all current supervisors to ensure they have been trained.
  • Anonymise the information for the chosen applicant for each project before it goes to the Envision management team to be assessed and ranked. This is where decisions are made on who to offer the final Envision studentships to.
  • Envision management team to assess criteria that applicants are graded on and communicate this clearly to the recruiting supervisors before the selection process. We need to ensure that supervisors assess the candidate on all different aspects of their experience. For example recruitment panels are to treat industry experience equal to academic experience.
What are Envision’s future plans?

Envision plans to improve the website in the following ways:

  • Ensure the language, wording and images on the Envision website and in PhD project adverts represents our values, is clear and accessible to all and includes a range of real life diverse role models.
  • Reassess Envision application form questions in the recruitment process to ensure they don’t create bias to a particular group of people.

The Envision management team will review the recruitment process. This will include:

  • Anonymising applications and references.
  • Standardising interviews and reference requests.
  • Guaranteed interview schemes for applicants with specified protected characteristics. More data collection is required before we could decide on which protected characteristic would be most valuable to include.
  • Set up ‘Equality Impact Analyses’ to ensure protected characteristics are considered when carrying out the recruitment process. This will help to make the process more inclusive. This process will also be carried out for major events.

Discuss a plan of events and outreach activities to encourage a more diverse range of applicants. This could include some of the following:

  • Video and social media campaigns from current students explaining why have they gone into science and why they have done a PhD?
  • Careers event to show applicants what opportunities are available for people who have chosen to do a PhD.
  • Training event or video with application and interview tips.
  • Applicant mentoring scheme. 
  • Student symposium that is open to school students.
Envision partner EDI policies

Please see the links below to find more details regarding our partners’ individual EDI policies:

Envision partner awards

All host partners are committed to advancing equality, as demonstrated through signing the Athena SWAN Charter. The Athena Swan Charter is a framework which is used across the globe to support and transform gender equality within higher education (HE) and research. Established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment, the Charter is now being used across the globe to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.