Diversity Matters

Diversity Matters

The ARIES Doctoral Training Partnership is committed to equality, diversity, widening participation and inclusion in its work with students, supervisors and partners; and in its interaction with the research community and beyond. Everyone has a right to be treated with dignity and respect, and to be provided with equal opportunities to flourish and succeed in an environment which enables them to do so.[1]

ARIES believes that an organisation’s success and competitiveness depends on its ability to embrace diversity and draw on the skills, understanding and experience of its people. We recognise the strengths that different backgrounds and experiences can bring to our cohort and how they may enhance the way we work. The potential rewards of diversity are significant: recruiting researchers from the widest possible pool will unlock talent and make a major contribution to the impact of research and will benefit the economic and social well-being of the UK. Equality and diversity should therefore be embedded at all levels and in all aspects of normal research practice. This commitment is made with specific reference to legally protected characteristics (age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity/paternity, race and ethnicity, religious belief or non-belief, sex and sexual orientation) but we also recognise there is a wealth of diversity not covered by these criteria.

ARIES is a neurodiversity-inclusive partnership.

The public sector equality duty gives public bodies legal responsibilities to take proactive measures to address equality, to help us to tackle and address persistent and long-standing issues of disadvantage and inequality.

Openness and Accountability

ARIES strives for transparency and accountability in how we conduct ourselves. Our policies, board membership, and PGR handbook are available publicly on our webpages.

We monitor all aspects of our DTP through feedback and EDI questionnaires, and the data and responses for these are examined by our Strategy Board. Our Head of Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Widening Participation (EDI&WP) is responsible for reporting to our Strategy Board, and we have a standing item for these at every Board meeting.

All Feedback on Training is subject to a response either from the Head of Training or from the Director, whereby feedback is acknowledged and actions to be taken are specifically recorded. These actions are then reported at the following Board meetings as relevant.

Our Strategy Board and Training and Progression Panel have PGR members to represent their colleagues, but also to hold us accountable for actions following feedback, and to report back to their cohorts on progress made.

Ensuring Equity and Improving Diversity through use of DTP Funding

Promoting equality of opportunity for supervisors and applicants

Call for proposals:

  • All Hosting Partners are required to collect and report EDI data for supervisors submitting proposals to ARIES, and we monitor success rates within the studentship proposal competition.
  • All supervisors, at point of proposal, are required to prepare mitigation plans for projects that may be less accessible to some groups, and to consider the safety and inclusivity of the research and fieldwork environment.

Recruitment of PGRs:

  • We use inclusive and positive language in our advertisements.
  • ARIES is a neurodiversity-inclusive partnership, and we enable PGRs to succeed by supporting specific needs and making reasonable adjustments.
  • ARIES is a disability-inclusive partnership, and we enable PGRs to succeed by supporting specific needs and making reasonable adjustments.
  • Our recruitment process is transparent to both PGRs and supervisors, with detailed instructions and information available on our webpages.
  • We hold a pre-application workshop with a particular focus on minoritised groups to provide advice on making the most of a PhD application and to promote a career in the environmental sciences.
  • We hold a pre-interview webinar to introduce candidates to the DTP and answer any questions about the interview process.
  • Our interviews involve a presentation from the candidate on a topic of their choosing, to enable neurodivergent or anxious candidates to take control of the process and present themselves as they wish.
  • ARIES recognises that not all candidates have equal access to opportunities such as Masters’ or research placements. Our interview process equally weights future potential with past achievements (given opportunities to date), and panels are given instruction on how to assess these criteria.
  • We collect feedback on our interview process from all candidates and panellists and act on it.
  • All ARIES studentships are available on a part-time basis, and we support PGRs to make decisions if changing mode of study is required.

Promoting a positive environment by encouraging participation and involvement

  • ARIES ensures its training programme is accessible and provides opportunities to request reasonable adjustments for every event.
  • We include provision for accompanying families to attend residential events (accommodation space made available, although not funded).
  • We ensure there is provision for part-time PGRs to access Training events and reporting requirements according to individual schedule.
  • We are able to signpost for DSA and local support where appropriate.
  • We are conscious of inclusivity where events include social/group activities, or involve the presence of alcohol.
  • We provide quiet areas, and rooms for prayer are made available at residential events.
  • Our Training Need Analysis encourages consideration of work-life balance.
  • We avoid school holiday dates when arranging meetings and cohort training events wherever possible.
  • Religious festivals are avoided wherever possible, but where this is not possible the needs of those that observe religious restrictions are borne in mind and adjustments made where requested.
  • We request feedback from all participants/training providers in ARIES events regarding equity and inclusion.

Active Leadership and Community Engagement

  • Feedback is a central tenet of ARIES DTP operations, in management, training, recruitment, and how we work with colleagues and partners.
  • ARIES works as part of the DTP community to identify and share best practise across the sector, via annual meetings with DTP Managers and Administrators, Annual meetings with DTP Directors, and open communication with other DTPs and our Funders.
  • We are mindful of representation in the way we present ourselves publicly.

Improving Our Own Diversity 

ARIES promotes equality, diversity, and inclusion according to the following strategies, and we are continuously improving our DTP in response to feedback. If you would like to read about changes we’ve already made and changes we are working on at the moment, take a look at our How we have Improved our DTP webpage.

Many of the strategies identified previously work to improve our own diversity, but in addition, we undertake the following:

Promoting diversity in the decision-making Boards and training providers.

  • We are proactive in considering diversity in appointing candidates to Boards. All Boards will have a gender balance reflective of the organisations involved. Data on the diversity of our Boards is collected, monitored, and reported.
  • We request feedback regularly from all participants/training providers in ARIES events regarding equity and inclusion, and act on it.
  • All ARIES Supervisors, Panels and Board members to complete an on-line equalities and unconscious bias training every three years.
  • We proactively consider diversity when appointing training providers and speakers at events and activities, with a transparent selection process.


Promoting a positive environment by encouraging participation and involvement

  • ARIES request feedback from all participants/training providers in ARIES events regarding equity and inclusion.
  • We actively brief training providers to draw their attention to the need for inclusivity and reasonable adjustments where required.
  • We act on feedback given, and update our PGRs, supervisors, training providers, and partners on our progress.
  • ARIES promotes greater awareness of mental health issues via direct provision of mental health awareness and mindfulness sessions at cohort training events, and by signposting provision at hosting partners.

Promoting self-analysis and continuous improvement

  • ARIES collect, analyse, and act on the data trends found pertaining to protected characteristics. All data is reported and discussed at Strategy Board meetings.
  • We endeavour to identify trends or gaps and address the impact on individuals and groups who have protected characteristics.
  • ARIES has a ‘no tolerance’ stance to harassment and bullying; we provide support and signpost advice so that staff and PGRs feel comfortable to make a complaint if they feel harassed or bullied.

[1] https://www.ukri.org/about-us/policies-and-standards/equality-diversity-and-inclusion/

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