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UKRI workshop 28 June 2023

Equality, diversity and inclusion in modern slavery research

A research project led by the UK Black and minority ethnic Anti-Slavery Network (BASNET) with the University of Nottingham, the University of Sheffield and St Mary's University Twickenham. Funded by the Modern Slavery PEC

The next 15 minutes

  • Brief summary of findings
  • Outline the recommendations for discussion


Workforce data

Existing diversity monitoring data (UKRI & MSPEC) + cross sectional survey (n=93)


Content analysis of 22 research reports published by MSPEC (Feb 21-Sept 22)

Focus groups

x4: lived experience, funders, researchers, community organisations (n=23)


Funder strategies, action plans and activities (n=17)

‘EDI in the sector [should cut] across all areas but it should be very intentional and very strategic. So it shouldn't be ‘let's turn up to a meeting, what colour of the face is on the screen? Great, let's crack on’... [We] should be much wiser than that .’

- Researcher participant 2

Characterising the workforce


Aged 45 or under (awardees)64% survey respondents aged 44 or under


'White'Survey 29% Black and minority ethnic

Two thirds

Identify as a woman. [UKRI 61%; MSPEC 72%; survey 72%]


Some/small barriers or limitations in day-to-day activities related to health conditions and/or physical, sensory or cognitive differences

One third went to non-selective state school in UK; Two thirds had main household earner in top 2 occupation brackets at age 14

32% in survey reported a nationality other than British

76% in survey straight/heterosexual

34% in survey sole or joint carer for children

Characterising the workforce


Sexual orientation



‘There's a balance to be struck between data collection, [that] can feel very much like box-ticking, [and] collecting that information which helps us to understand survivors as more than survivors of trafficking but actually that kind of intersectionality, the fact that they're gay or the fact that they're disabled, has had an additional impact on their experience and means that they've faced additional barriers to support’

- Community organisation participant 4


“More events to bring groups together to create more diverse research teams” Addressing “saviorism” in the anti-trafficking sector (and, by implication, the modern slavery research field) “Increasing [training] opportunities for early career professionals with lived experience”

Bullying and harassment


had experience of bullying and harassment in their role

Research design and conduct

Inclusive conduct

Strengths: e.g. inclusion of people with lived experience

Empowering conduct & design

“platform for healing … a vehicle for justice” (researcher participant 2)

Inclusive design

Poorly documented in reports

Brave space

"we will get things wrong, we will say things clumsily, we will do things in a way that is with the best intentions but that it comes out wrong. I think setting up a set of principles that allows that to happen and that we're all doing this work in the best of faith ... a genuine commitment to EDI for the right reasons" (community organisation participant 5)

Funder policy and practice

Going beyond HEIs

"I think funders have a responsibility to promote their application process or opportunities as far and wide as possible" (community organisation participant 1).

Promising practice

Examples: Collaborating with/being advised by affected communities (e.g. MSPEC); Wellcome's Anti-Racist Toolkit; multiple peer networks across underrepresented groups; Wellcome's Equitable Funding Practice Library


Not a mature field of practice e.g. absence of evaluation of EDI strategy performance or interventions

Disruptive action

Intentional reframing of EDI away from compliance/regulation - towards disrupting "the way things are done" (funder participant 4) and questioning "what is really important criteria in this piece of research and what actually is there just because it's always been there?" (community organisation participant 3)


On EDI in the research process

For funders and researchers

On EDI in the research workforce

For funders and employers

On EDI in policy and practice

For funders and employers

Authors: Liz Such, Modupe Debbie Ariyo, Habiba Aminu, Naeema Ahmed, Neena Samota Contributors: BASNET’s Expert By Experience Panel and third sector/community organisation input: Carmen Clarke, Khai Tzedek CIC; Musa Amedu, Edo Diaspora; Sipiwe Takura, Oasis Consultancy; Mireille Kasonga, Children Hope Forever; Mama Sylla, La Fraternite UK; Ehinor Otaigbe-Amedu, Wonderfully Made Woman; Human Trafficking Foundation; Peter Wieltschnig, Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) and Laura Wood, VITA Network.

Thank you

  1. Promote modern slavery research as a site for brave, open or courageous conversations
  2. Make explicit the values, goals and principles of modern slavery research. State for whom research serves
  3. Show how research reflects those values and goals
  4. Report methods transparently and openly
  5. Consult affected people and communities to inform research questions, design and conduct
  6. Routinely reflect on EDI in research practice
  7. Validate, co-create and co-produce research with affected people and communities
  1. Draw from a wider population of people with capacity and skills
  2. Invest in capacity building where the above is absent
  3. Carefully specify funding calls, job roles and clear job descriptions
  4. Ensure researchers are supported to build skills in involving persons with lived experience across all research topics
  5. Continue to collect and collate routine EDI data to monitor progress (and show how it has been used to instigate change)
  6. Address an urgent need to understand and rectify issues of bullying and harassment across the researcher base

Headline finding 1

EDI is valued within the modern slavery research community, but data on this community must be collected and analysed appropriately and meaningfully

Headline finding 3

Funder policies and practice can improve EDI in modern slavery research, collaborating with communities and people with lived experience is key to doing this

Headline finding 2

EDI is not being routinely explicitly considered throughout the research process, and described within research reports
  1. Create an infrastructure for EDI by design (cf. codesign principles, values, actions, performance metrics, mechanisms of support)
  2. Focus on researcher training, support and improved guidance on how to design in EDI
  3. Fund research within research, especially addressing EDI questions in research design, conduct, reporting
  4. Avoid rapid response where possible (better supports inclusivity and diversity)

Headline finding 2

EDI is not being routinely explicitly considered throughout the research process, and described within research reports