Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) are central principles for the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre.
We are aware that a lack of diversity has hindered research and policy on modern slavery, reducing innovation and progress on understanding the problem, and ultimately limiting the relevance and impact of research. Including a wide and diverse range of people, particularly those with lived experience, in research and at policymaking tables is not only the right thing to do, but also essential for improving policies addressing modern slavery and ensuring they’re informed by experts by experience, a view also shared by those who participated in our consultation on research priorities.
That is why today we are publishing our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and Action Plan, setting out our four priority aims and what we will do over the next year and beyond, to improve EDI within our work and with other people and organisations working to address modern slavery. Our Action Plan hopefully demonstrates that we are committed and determined to ensuring people with different experiences, backgrounds and expertise have fair and equal access to opportunities the Centre provides. That includes within our operations, the research we fund, networks we develop and participate in and across all the activities we deliver.
The Strategy and Action Plan are a result of long and detailed conversations with many people within and outside the Modern Slavery PEC. We would like to thank everyone who helped shape our thinking so far (with special thanks to BASNET for their trailblazing work on this issue) and we’re looking forward to working with many and more people and organisations to put our plans into practice.
We grouped our Action Plan under four aims. Each includes the list of things we have already done on the aim and a list of actions we will do in future, along with timeframes for them.
1. Equitably including individuals and communities with lived experience and those who work closely with them in the Modern Slavery PEC’s work.
Future research needs to go beyond consideration of those with experience as mere participants or ‘subjects’ of research, and embrace genuine, equitable, meaningful involvement. Working with people with lived experience has been invaluable for the Centre so far and we’ve previously blogged about what we do about meaningful inclusion of lived experience in our work but we want, and need, to go further.
In the next few weeks we will be recruiting for a Lived Experience Manager and Lived Experience Coordinator to join us on a more permanent basis and progress our commitment to survivor inclusion across our work. They will play a pivotal role in the creation and operation of the Centre’s Lived Experience Advisory Panel and Working Group of Survivor-Engaged Organisations, which will be set up later in the year.
We are gearing up for a lot of listening and learning and hope it will make a real difference for our research and influencing policy on modern slavery.
2. Improving diversity within the modern slavery research community, to effectively include all individuals, communities and organisations with an interest in and affected by modern slavery.
Our consultation exercise in 2020 confirmed that there is a pressing need to be more inclusive in the way that funding is allocated, and research is conducted in this area. Over the next year we will be supporting more diverse partners to benefit from our funding and wider work in a number of ways, including making more research funding available to NGOs, and hosting workshops for potentially interested researchers, communities and organisations from the wider academic and practitioner community to hear about and get involved in our work. Our research ideas form and email group are more ways we hope that organisations and others working on modern slavery can share research ideas and connect with others.
3. Undertaking research on EDI within the wider modern slavery research sector, to understand the challenges and make recommendations for improvements.
We also need to do more to understand the EDI challenges facing those involved in modern slavery research, and barriers stopping others from being able to participate effectively. We also want to learn from the great work that is already going on to address these. That is why we are launching a research funding call on the topic to generate more evidence about EDI in the sector. Watch this space and sign up to our newsletter for more information on this research call when it goes live.
4. Embedding EDI in internal operations and governance across the Centre
Finally, we know that improving EDI within our own organisation and operations is vital to being able to promote this elsewhere. We will continue to prioritise EDI in our recruitment processes and ways of working, in line with the British Institute of International & Comparative Law’s (BIICL, our parent organisation) Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy.
We plan to publish an annual update to the Action Plan, starting in spring 2023, setting out what we have learned and what we want to do next.
We’re really keen to learn about and from experiences of others within the sector. If you have any feedback, questions or suggestions on this Strategy and Action Plan, please contact me at email@example.com.