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Beyond Face Value: Ensuring Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Research

We had the privilege of attending several events between the 11th and 14th June, including the London Tech Week, the PLAN UK Girls’ Rights Collective meeting, and the Social Research Association Conference. These experiences have prompted us to reflect on the importance of going beyond surface-level considerations of equity, diversity, and inclusion in research, and truly embedding these principles in research practices. Rather than mere buzzwords, equity, diversity, and inclusion need to be meaningfully and ethically integrated into the research process.

 

Researchers’ Ethical Responsibility

Inclusive research is not only a moral imperative but also an ethical responsibility for researchers. By creating a safe and empowering environment for participants, researchers enable voices from all walks of life to be heard. Acknowledging and minimising power imbalances in the research process, allows individuals to freely express themselves. Inclusive practices encompass appreciating cultural differences, negotiating boundaries, and acknowledging aspects of diversity often overlooked in research, such as social class.

 

Moving Beyond Assumptions and Biases

To ensure genuine equity and inclusion, researchers must challenge their own assumptions and biases. By practicing bracketing, they can set aside their preconceived notions and approach the research with an open mind. Critical methodologies, such as feminist approaches and decolonized methodologies, provide frameworks for dismantling oppressive systems and structures that perpetuate inequalities. Moreover, intersectional analysis, which considers the overlapping effects of multiple identities and inequalities, can unveil a more comprehensive understanding of the world.

 

Prof Heidi Safia Mirza discussing decolonising research during the Social Research Association Conference
Prof Heidi Safia Mirza discussing decolonising research during the Social Research Association Conference

 

Creating Safe Spaces for Difficult Conversations

Research must provide a safe space for participants to discuss sources of exclusion without fear of being excluded, prejudiced, shamed, blamed, or discriminated against. This requires going beyond surface-level discussions and allowing sufficient time, space, and safety to engage in difficult conversations. It is incumbent upon researchers to listen actively, reflect on their own analysis, and avoid objectifying or exploiting participants for the sake of research. Only through genuine dialogue and reflection can long-lasting impact be achieved. The participatory action research (PAR) approach is one way to enable participants to be fully engaged in the research process as peer researchers, steering the direction of the research and contributing to the interpretation of the findings. It was very interesting to learn about one such project carried out by Ofgen and Toynbee Hall to help bridge the gap between decision makers, policy makers and consumers in enabling a fair transition to net zero.

 

Learnings from the PAR project by Ofgem and Toynbee Hall

 

Addressing Systemic Issues

Equity, diversity, and inclusion in research should not be limited to the research process alone but should extend to addressing systemic issues in society. Researchers must consider the role of privilege and social constructions in perpetuating inequality. By decolonizing research and giving voice to minority groups, we can foster a more inclusive and representative knowledge base.

 

In conclusion, the need for equity, diversity, and inclusion in research goes far beyond surface-level considerations. Researchers have an ethical responsibility to create inclusive spaces, challenge assumptions and biases, and address systemic issues. By embracing intersectionality and engaging in difficult conversations, we can move towards a more equitable and inclusive society. Let us not merely pay lip service to these principles but embed them into the very fabric of our research practices, ensuring that everyone is accepted for who they truly are.

Lorleen Farrugia

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A1-RESEARCHHeadquarters
A1 Research is a company headquartered in Malta with reach in the UK and EU through a nework of Associated Consultants
OUR LOCATIONSWhere to find us?
A1 Location Malta
GET IN TOUCHA1 Research on Linkedin
Follow us on LinkedIn for a stream of online updates on our most recent projects
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