By Melanie Etherton, Communications Officer, Academy of Medical Sciences

Published: 22 May 2020

“As in the science we strive to support, negative results are as valuable as positive ones.”

There’s a lot out there about how to improve diversity in organisations. But maybe less about all the mistakes that go with it.

I want us to be more open about what works and what doesn’t in our organisations as we try to improve diversity. There’s no point in repeating each other’s failures.

Sometimes it can seem like you’re the only one failing, and everyone else is proceeding smoothly towards a brighter future.

But when you ask the question, lots of really big and well-known organisations in biomedical and health science hold their hands up and admit to pretty basic diversity work errors – not collecting data, incomplete or patchy data collection, poorly planned interventions, no clear strategy.

This might sound pretty negative, but when you’re facing many of the same issues it’s also really reassuring. When you know others have tackled similar issues on their journey, it gives you hope of overcoming your own challenges.

Critically, sharing both successes and failures gives our community a chance to learn how to do diversity work better.

We must not let our fear of being judged or looking stupid prevent us from sharing what doesn’t work. As in the science we strive to support, negative results are as valuable as positive ones.

So here’s my top tips video for how to try and improve diversity in a biomedical and health focused organisation. While my talk for the AMRC went through lots of the negatives, I’ve focused on some of the positives in the video too. But I think you can see some of the problems we’ve been facing behind them.

Let’s get together and learn from the mistakes of others – you don’t have to make them all yourself!

You can read more about the equality and diversity activities Melanie works on here.