The Trust’s mission is to fund excellent, risky and fundamental research, responding to academics’ own research interests and passions. To this end, our funding plays a significant role in making the UK higher education research sector world class.
A world class research system must be inclusive of ideas and people. We are seeking to play an active part in making that system more equitable and diverse in order to fulfil our mission to fund excellent research. We are doing this both via the focus of the research we fund, some of which is designed to understand and improve structural inequalities, and via the academics and the institutions we support.
We are acutely conscious of inequalities in the research ecosystem, and that our grantees at present are likely to reflect these inequalities. Both Trustees and staff are committed to increasing the inclusiveness of our grant-making processes, with the aim of achieving greater diversity in our applicants. This is vital to ensure that we have the opportunity to fund the best quality research.
Below we set out how we will seek to improve the inclusiveness of our grant-making and we have committed to an annual review of our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) strategy to ensure we are making measurable progress.
We will encourage a more diverse group of academics to apply for our grants
We will encourage applications from academics and institutions who have historically proven less likely to apply to us. We will do this in numerous ways, including visiting a wider range of universities and providing application guidance and support to under-represented groups. We will also encourage and facilitate partnerships between institutions.
We will ensure our peer review process is inclusive
Trust funding decisions are based on peer review, and it is vital this important aspect of our grant-making is also inclusive. We have improved the demographic diversity of our peer reviewers and committee members and will enhance this further. The Trust will also work with peer reviewers and committee members to enable them to both inform and support our EDI strategy.
We will work with others
We will consult those who have relevant experience and expertise to guide our efforts. The Trust will also collaborate with others, including other research funders, who are working to improve the inclusivity of the UK higher education research landscape.
We will continue with our applicant focused flexible approach
The Trust is known for its applicant focused, low burden and flexible approach to its grant-making.
We will continue to provide funding for academics at every stage of their careers across our many schemes, from doctoral students to those post-retirement. Where appropriate, we will target our funding to career stages that help to improve the diversity of the research base.
Recognising that workloads do not fall evenly on individuals, we will seek to keep the administrative burden associated with our grants low and be responsive to the needs of grantees in applying our grant regulations.
The Trust will continue its flexible approach to grant-making, recognising that equity requires consideration of each individual’s circumstances.
We will measure our impact
Any action we take needs to be informed by data, with clear benchmarks and measures of success. The Trust has recently started collecting the data necessary for assessing and monitoring the levels of participation in its schemes by under-represented groups.
We will publish this data on our website and measure our success in improving the diversity of our applicants and grantees on an annual basis. In our Annual Review, we will review and report on our progress in terms of the above aims.
The Trust is respected and trusted for its willingness to support novel and risky research and for its uncompromising commitment to excellence. This philosophy will also inform our approach to improving equity, diversity and inclusion in our grant-making.
Statement on racism
Racism of any and all forms is abhorrent and is condemned by the Trust.
The particular mission of the charity is to provide scholarships for research and education. Over the course of several decades, the Trust has funded numerous authoritative and independent studies of colonialism, of the long history of Black Britons and of the lived experience of minority ethnic communities in this country and elsewhere.
The Trust is also aware of its own history. It was established with a legacy from Lord Leverhulme, founder of Lever Brothers, one of the companies that merged to form Unilever in 1930. Unilever are funding independent research by leading academics which will examine Leverhulme’s later business operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Solomon Islands. Recognising our shared legacy, the Leverhulme Trust will be engaging fully with this research and the findings will be published and widely accessible.
The Trustees will continue to offer Leverhulme grants to study these and other social inequalities and in this way help rid the world of the systemic injustices of racism.