The global inclusivity
report 2022

What's preventing a more inclusive environment?

Recruitment and promotional bias top the list again, with more than half (57%) choosing this option.

Limited funding and budget squeezes (50%) are another common concern, along with lack of awareness of the issues (48%). Fear of rocking the boat (43%) is another barrier, rising to 64% in the UK.

Women worry most about rocking the boat (51% versus 38% of men).

Fair & inclusive workplaces

Question 6: Thinking about your workplace, what do you think are the barriers to having a fair and inclusive workplace?

Area, percentage of time chosen in top 5. 2022. 2020 figures in brackets.

Barrier 2022 % 2020 %
Biases in recruitment / promotions 47.7 59.7
Manager / leadership attitudes or approach to inclusivity 40 51.1
Too much pressure on career progression 37.7 45.8
Not enough mentoring 36.7 41.6
Gender discrimination or inequality 27.2 36.7
Racial / ethnic discrimination 24.2 35.3
Lack of national accessible and free education to allow for employability 20.7 26.5
Age discrimination towards the older generation 20.4 19.4
Lack of digital connectivity / technology 19.2 14.4
Complexity of working remotely / across countries 19.1 15.5
Fair employment laws to protect employees 14.3 23.6
Affordable transport for all to be able to get to a place of work 13.5 16.8
Age discrimination towards the younger generation 13.1


Discrimination towards people with learning needs / learning difficulties 12.1 14.6
Discrimination due to religious beliefs 11.6 15
Being discriminated against for having mental health issues 9.7 14.5
Workers experiencing discrimination because of their sexuality 9.6 9.5
Fair employment laws to protect employers 9.5 14.4
Discrimination towards people living with disability / disabled people 9.3 17.5
Being discriminated against for being or becoming a parent 8.6 13.4

Why inclusion fails in the workplace

"1. Gender Discrimination: Selection in recruitment is favourable for female candidates with reasons other than the academic achievements. 2. Selection in appointments is strictly biased, as in Indian caste system the upper caste authorities rigidly did not want oppressed other backward classes, scheduled caste and scheduled tribes to get a deserving job or an admission." Male researcher in India


"Academics are not trained managers of people and time to train/understand should be addressed." Female academic in UK

"At my university (and many others in the US), when there were budget cuts, the programmes that were eliminated were those in the social sciences and humanities. According to the data from my own university, the layoffs of faculty in the eliminated programmes were disproportionately among women and minorities (73%). […] This discrimination against the social sciences and humanities programmes at universities has contributed to discrimination in the workforce." Female academic in USA

What's preventing a more inclusive environment?

Recruitment and promotional bias top the list again, with more than half (57%) choosing this option. Limited funding and budget squeezes (50%) are another common concern, along with lack of awareness of the issues (48%). Fear of rocking the boat (43%) is another barrier, rising to 64% in the UK. Women worry most about rocking the boat (51% versus 38% of men).

"We are all so busy that suggesting these changes, thinking them through, and working on them takes more time (that we don’t have) – so, it’s less attractive to make them." Male researcher in India


Lack of representation
"The unbearable weight of Whiteness – the further you look up the more there is." Female researcher in UK


"Selection of managers who do not have academic preparation, which hinders the work environment. In other words, because they are friends of high officials, they are selected to lead a group of better-prepared investigators." Male researcher in Mexico

Barriers to a more inclusive environment in academia

Question 7: To what extent do you believe each of the following may prevent a more inclusive environment in academia?

Factor %
Recruitment / promotional bias 56.8
Limited funding & budget squeezes 50.3
Lack of awareness of the issues 48.2
Lack of training 43.7
Fear of rocking the boat 43
The way the tenure system works 41.7
The echo chambers that exist in academia 40.7

Has academia got EDI wrong?

Some researchers strongly criticise academia’s EDI approach, branding it hypocritical and unfair. There is a feeling that EDI isn’t inclusive of all because it discriminates against the majority. Other concerns centre ;around the impact of EDI on research quality.

"Inclusivity is not a worthy goal. It is inherently racist and sexist and totalitarian." Researcher in US


"It is simply WRONG to be pushing this agenda. Where has meritocracy gone? Am I from a privileged group because I had to clean toilets and wait tables and save like a possessed man to go to university at age 34? Where is my inclusivity?" Man academic in Australia

Too many restrictions
"Ethics committees create barriers to inclusivity. Stories are not told because of the 'handle with cotton wool gloves' requirements attached to including Indigenous and other diverse groups (LGBTIAQ+) participants in research. Ultimately perpetuating bias." Woman academic in Singapore

What stands in the way of academics making a societal impact?

Academia plays a leading role in achieving the SDGs and creating an inclusive society, but common challenges can slow progress.

Not enough knowledge between academia and industry is the main concern for 55% of respondents in 2022, followed by lack of collaboration across universities globally 50%, not enough funding 49% and academic culture not being inclusive 49%.

What's changed since 2020?

Issues around collaboration between established researchers and early career researchers appear worse in 2022 – 43% of academics compared to 37% in 2020. On the plus side, there are perceived gains in global collaboration and interdisciplinary research.

Funding is slightly more of a challenge in 2022, with 49% of academics compared to 43% in 2020 saying there’s not enough compared to other subjects. There’s also been a rise in researchers saying the challenge of proving the benefits of research in driving change is holding back progress (37% in 2022 versus 30% in 2020).

Other perceived barriers include:

"Academia is always fighting against the expectations of a 'successful' academic and having time to be inclusive i.e., most academics work overstated hours which causes problems to take on additional work despite intent." Woman academic in UK


"Academia is still somewhat of a meritocracy and the move toward inclusion seeks to eliminate all standards." Man academic in US

Lack of representation
"Not enough ethnic minority academics and editors that work on issues of inclusion and diversity." Academic in UK


Too much
"Turning people off through mandatory course content and statements, ‘unconscious bias’ training, exaggerated beliefs about the proportions of ethnic minorities in our societies, ‘positive’ discrimination, focus on just particular ethnic groups." Man academic in UK

Creating a more inclusive society through the SDGs

Question 8: What do you think are the main challenges to academia in creating a more inclusive society as defined by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals? Please select all that apply and use the ‘other’ option to describe any new challenges you may want to include.

2022 % 2020 % Challenge
54.5 66.9 Not enough knowledge exchange between academia and practice to be effective
49.7 51.1 Not enough collaboration across different universities globally
49 42.9 Not enough funding compared to other subject areas
49 55.4 Academic culture isn’t very inclusive
47.2 60.3 Not enough of an interdisciplinary approach
42.8 36.6 Not enough collaboration between established researchers and Early Career Researchers
41.3 36 The incentives in academia work against the definition of inclusivity
37.4 35.1 Provable benefits take too long to be evident in society
37.1 29.7 Hard to prove the benefits of the research in driving change
10.1   Other


Next: Diversity & inclusion in research design

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