Building on our commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

8 Mar 2022, 10 a.m.

Institute of Child Health sign

Hi, I’m Poonam and I’ve recently become the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Co-ordinator across the NIHR Great Ormond Street Hospital Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR GOSH BRC) and the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health (UCL GOS ICH).

My first year

Poonam Palan smiles directly at a camera wearing a light blue shirt with embroidered flowers

Poonam Palan, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Co-ordinator at the NIHR GOSH BRC and UCL GOS ICH

Taking on a new role means thinking about what my first year might look like. My first aim is to listen, learn and understand.

Data can only tell us so much; I want to get an understanding of what the people who work here would like to see. How do they think we could make research at GOSH more diverse and inclusive?

The UCL GOS ICH have an EDI committee, and they are already doing some great work that I can support them with and help them to build on. At the NIHR GOSH BRC, I hope to be able to create a clear EDI strategy that helps us to focus on the key challenges within our Research and Innovation team. Then we can start to work collaboratively with researchers from across GOSH to put our ideas into practice.

The most important thing I want to remember is that EDI work should be more than just a tick box exercise. I hope we can take meaningful and valuable action in transforming the systems and processes at the UCL GOS ICH and the NIHR GOSH BRC to be more equitable and inclusive.

Athena Swan

In 2020, the UCL GOS ICH was awarded a Gold Athena Swan award that recognises good practice towards improving gender equality within higher education and research institutions.

Receiving a Gold award is a huge achievement for UCL GOS ICH. It is significant, not only for the Institute, but also the wider UCL and GOSH community and reflects our commitment to equality across all areas of research.

As well as being recognition of the progress made so far, the Athena Swan is an action plan. It gives us specific objectives to work towards and provides an outline of the next steps we’re going to be taking towards transforming gender equality.

Our action plan looks at how gender and ethnicity intersect, to understand how different barriers come together to affect groups in education and the workplace.

I hope that within this role, I will be able to help the UCL GOS ICH implement their action plan and continue to build on the great work they have already started.

Looking forward

Ultimately, I hope that one day my role will no longer be required - because all the teams, systems, processes and cultures within research at GOSH are truly equitable and inclusive.

My aim is to ensure that EDI is embedded into everyday practices and ways of working and that every single person thinks about how we can make our working practices more inclusive by becoming an ally.

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