AMANDA: Hello everyone, it is a privilege to be able to speak to so many of you, over a thousand representatives of research communities all around the world. And for such a vital purpose, to consider and discuss how we can build a better research culture that values everyone's contributions to the research endeavour. An event like this will bring people together from different countries and fields of expertise to share their experiences and perspectives - it is just so valuable. And it goes without saying how grateful I am to Wellcome for hosting this event, and for continuing to be the thought leaders on these issues, tackling the culture changes within research.
One of the highlights of my job is being able to meet the diverse and wonderful people that are at the heart and brains of our R&D community. Again, and again, I'm told by these talented people that they are concerned about the long‑term future of the sector. Scientists around the world report issues around gender inequality, inflexible working conditions, harassment, bullying and discrimination. These issues are likely to be driving them away from pursuing their careers further and this needs to be addressed.
Speaking from a UK point of view, if we are to realise our ambitious R&D vision, we need to make the UK the most attractive place to live and have a career in R&D. This means changing the current environment from one of short‑term narrow career opportunities that many have spoken about to me, to one where the UK proudly offers a dynamic and broad range of career paths to individuals from all backgrounds. One where we are able to encourage mobility between academia and industry; one where diversity in experience, thoughts and approach are openly welcomed and encouraged. And one where researchers can prioritise their wellbeing and don't feel chained to their desk, or afraid to talk to their colleagues and managers about challenges in the workplace.
Strengthening leadership in research and innovation has a major role to play in how we achieve our R&D aims as a country, but also in how our researchers fulfil their own potential. We need a culture where people are comfortable finding out new things, taking risks and venturing into the unknown. An environment that invites and celebrates international talent, being open to collaboration that harnesses the best ideas from around the world.
We have developed a new Graduate Visa and Global Talent Visa to help support talent from abroad, but recognise we could always do more. That is why the Office for Talent is working to ensure that the UK's talent offer is stronger than ever for students, those building their careers and those already world leaders in their fields. I believe in an R&D community where people can be themselves and pursue their passion for the benefit of society. R&D is always and should be for everyone, regardless of background. Opportunities must be created for people around the UK to pursue diverse and flexible careers, as scientists, researchers and innovators.
For all these reasons, that is why we are developing an R&D People and Culture Strategy, working to remove barriers and dismantle inequalities in the system that limit the ambitions, inclusion and participation of people who want to pursue a career in the sector. The opinion of those who work in the research system, such as yourselves, are vitally important and will help to shape the development and direction of the strategy moving forward. We will be listening to the outcomes of the workshop sessions during these events and working closely with Wellcome and other partners to ensure we are considering all voices in R&D.
I hope that you all enjoy this event and are able to tackle some tough topics and conversations. It is through forums like this that we can really make a change, a real tangible change, and this government wants to be in the forefront of that change. Thank you.
She shares her reflections on how we can build an environment where diversity of thought and experience makes the sector stronger, and where people feel supported to take risks and express their feelings honestly.
Amanda also shares her vision for the UK’s People and Culture Strategy(opens in a new tab), and how it will help to improve research culture.