Wellcome wants to be an anti-racist organisation. An organisation where our staff in racially minoritised groups thrive without enduring negative experiences linked to their identities. Where there is no racial inequity in our decisions about who we fund. And where the research we fund is inclusive in design and practice, driving better science and more equitable health solutions.
A year ago, while the unequal impact of Covid-19 was highlighting the deadly consequences of structural racism, US police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd. Millions protested across the world. Calls for change came from within Wellcome, too. In support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Wellcome made anti-racism commitments, including some specifically related to our funding and Wellcome Collection.
Since then, I’ve been co-leading Wellcome’s anti-racism programme with Tunde Agbalaya, with support from Sarah Christie. As part of this, I’ve led the development of Wellcome’s anti-racist principles, guidance and toolkit. Co-created with staff and external anti-racism experts, it provides a framework for how to be anti-racist at Wellcome.
Wellcome’s anti-racist principles
- Prioritise anti-racism
- Investigate racial inequity
- Involve people of colour
- Counteract racism
- Make measurable progress
To explore the principles in full, as well as practical guidance and a toolkit to apply them in day-to-day work, download the principles and toolkit [PDF 315KB].
Wellcome is one part of a bigger system that produces and maintains racial inequity. Tackling structural racism requires change across the whole of society, including the science, research and museum sectors. Although our anti-racist principles, guidance and toolkit are tailored for Wellcome’s leaders and the people who chair our funding committees, our context isn’t unique. Just as it was helpful for us while creating our new resource to speak with people who shared similar challenges, we hope that publishing it under a Creative Commons license will be useful for others, too.
Wellcome has a long way to go. In our last inclusion survey, 22% of staff in racially minoritised groups reported experiencing offensive language, jokes or behaviours from colleagues. Analysis of the people Wellcome funds also indicated inequity in our funding decisions:
One resource on its own won’t create change. As part of our broader programme, we are also developing anti-racism training, supporting leaders and teams with their anti-racism work, and evaluating all these initiatives. Senior leaders have started using the principles and will continue to apply them as Wellcome delivers its new strategy.
It takes time and effort to create lasting change. But there’s no excuse for not making the time and making the effort, when carrying on as usual is a choice to maintain racial inequity. We have to continually challenge racist behaviour, action, and inaction wherever we find it, including in ourselves. This resource isn’t something to be used as a one-off, it’s something to keep coming back to. And we know it is not just up to leaders, D&I practitioners, and people of colour – making an organisation anti-racist requires changes from us all.