Author: Ivana Barbaric, University of Sheffield
In November 2022, the BSGCT launched the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) subcommittee. The establishment of this subcommittee follows on from the BSGCT President’s announcement of priority areas, which included a focus on the EDI and enhancing Global Majority membership. As the first Chair of the EDI subcommittee, in this blog I want to tell you about the mission and plans of the EDI subcommittee. In particular, I want to take this opportunity to call into action all of our BSGCT members to help us shape the BSGCT EDI vision and help us make the BSGCT a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Society.
The BSGCT brings together scientists, medical workers, engineers and people affected by diseases and injuries with the aim of advancing the boundaries of science and transforming the modern healthcare. We want to make gene and cell therapy a clinical reality and we know that enhancing the innovation and creativity in this area is best achieved through bringing together a diverse pool of people, with different backgrounds, experiences and knowledge. But are we doing enough to support diversity and promote inclusion? What could we do better? These are the questions that the newly-formed EDI subcommittee reflected upon in order to formulate an EDI strategy and plan of action.
In reflecting on our current practices, we identified numerous areas of good practise. We are particularly proud of our achievements in widening participation and public engagement programmes and in supporting early career researchers (ECRs) through a range of activities, such as the mentoring scheme and career-focused webinars. We now want to build on our strengths and momentum to implement further changes that will lead to a fairer, more diverse and more inclusive Society. To this end, we will first collate the data on the diversity of our membership and use this data to identify any potential imbalances in diversity representation. To understand any potential barriers to participation and engagement within the Society, the EDI subcommittee will implement various actions, ranging from consulting with the BSGCT membership through surveys and feedback forms to encouraging participation from under-represented groups.
Apart from improving practices within the BSGCT, the EDI subcommittee also recognises that the BSGCT is uniquely placed to drive and influence change across the whole gene and cell therapy sector. We want to use our voice to continue supporting initiatives aimed at widening participation and attracting people from underrepresented groups to careers in gene and cell therapy sector. Finally, we are committed to using our voice to advocate and promote adoption of the EDI principles in all areas of gene and cell therapy, from research and training to clinical implementation.
By establishing the EDI subcommittee, the BSGCT has made an important pledge to progress diversity and inclusion, both within the Society and the overall gene and cell therapy sector. However, the achievement of our ambitious goals will only become possible if we have the support of our membership. Please respond to our surveys, get involved with the subcommittee work or simply send us your feedback and comments. Together we can ensure that the gene and cell therapy community is accessible, diverse and thriving in its mission to beat currently incurable conditions.