Our Supportive Culture

Our Culture – supporting each other

We support our colleagues to reach their full potential and to help each other thrive in their work. The diversity in skills and knowledge that we all bring combine to make the Institute the thriving ideas factory that it is. We encourage everyone to value each other’s differences in thought, background, experience and perspective.

We are committed to delivering impactful and sustained changes that promote and deepen our culture of equality, diversity, and inclusion to ensure that our work benefits from widest range of knowledge, creativity and expertise possible. A key part of this work is our programme of long-term, targeted activities that promote equity in all our people processes; from recruitment to development and progression.

Growing together: career development and training

We have developed a range of inhouse training and career development opportunities to support everyone at the Institute to grow their career, experience, responsibilities and skills. These include:

  • our active mentoring and coaching scheme with over 50 coaches and mentors on Campus
  • an annual Careers Day, with invited talks from funders and those in a range of scientific and non-scientific careers
  • a bespoke women’s leadership programme for high-potential future leaders. The programme includes workshops, individual coaching sessions, career planning and the opportunity to build professional networks
  • online equality and diversity training that covers practical actions that everyone can take to reduce disadvantage and bias in working practices and approach
  • Campus-wide talks and training on unconscious bias within recruitment and selection processes that focus on the actions we can take to be aware of, and reduce, biases creeping into our decision-making.

Treating each other with respect: our Behavioural Competency Framework

To embed our positive working culture where everyone is heard, respected and supported, we have developed our Behavioural Competency Framework. The guide defines the six core behaviours that we value in all our colleagues to build an inclusive community and layouts our expectations for everyone working across our organisation.

Learning from each other and celebrating success

To make sure that everyone is able to contribute to the success of the Institute and be recognised for their work, our engagement strategy has four key aims. They are to:

  • give everyone opportunities to have their voice heard
  • enable everyone to receive recognition for their efforts
  • show the value and positive impact of the Institute’s work to promote a sense of purpose and pride in our collective endeavours
  • enable everyone to grow their confidence and skills, and celebrate successes.


We have developed a range of avenues to ensure that everyone can make their voice heard, both formally and informally, openly or anonymously:

  • our regular Great Place to Work survey helps us to ‘take the temperature’ of the Institute and identify areas for growth
  • our Employee Partner network and monthly meetings give everyone the opportunity to air concerns through their elected Employee Partners
  • our online ideas portal enables everyone to provide immediate feedback and ideas, anonymously if they wish.

As a result of this regular engagement and feedback we are able to plan and deliver services, process and talks that deliver the greatest impact in areas of most relevance. For example, we have organised talks and webinars from expert speakers on areas such as Resilience, Menopause, and Mortgages, in response to need.

Celebrating success

To help us take a moment to reflect on the value each person brings to our work, and acknowledge the vital contributions they make, we have put in place a number of mechanisms to say thank you.

Our online Reward Hub provides a quick and easy space to send e-cards and drinks vouchers to thank each other, welcome new starters, congratulate new starters and nominate colleagues for our quarterly ‘Stars for Science’ awards.

Our ‘Stars for Science’ awards are a quarterly Institute-wide ceremony that celebrates colleagues whose efforts have gone above and beyond and rewards winners with a monetary award.

Supporting everyone on Campus

We strive to create a positive culture where everyone is heard, respected and supported to be themselves. To aid us in this, we have joined the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower initiative to provide help and visibility to those who might need it. The Sunflower enables individuals to discreetly indicate that they have an invisible condition and may need additional assistance, kindness, or simply a little more time. Everyone on campus is included and is invited to wear the Sunflower if they want to.

Supporting wellbeing 

To help everyone achieve a healthy work-life balance and approach to their work, we support all our collegues with an Institute-wide ‘Wellness@Work’ programme. This provides:

  • a 24/7 Employee Assistance Programme telephone service that offers confidential advice for our staff and students
  • access to trained Campus Mental Health First Aiders
  • free and subsidised exercise classes
  • free counselling.

Contributing to the wider community, locally and nationally

As both a charity, and a leader in genomic research, we are proud of the positive impact we are making to the global research community to healthcare delivery around the world. But we also want to make positive contributions to society closer to home, so we also provide a range of schemes to allow our colleagues to help in their local communities and nationally.

We support two charities that are nominated and voted for by our colleagues every two years. We run fundraising events and promote payroll giving, as well as volunteering opportunities aligned to these charities. Individually, we also give everyone at the Institute the opportunity to take two full working days (or four half days) to volunteer with any charity of their choice.

More locally, we run a community garden and actively manage our wetlands on Campus, and our members can choose to spend their volunteering time on these activities if they wish.

Supporting each other: our Staff Networks

Our Campus wide staff networks have been created to bring people together, provide safe spaces for people to be themselves, offer specific support and development opportunities, and raise awareness. They are open to allies and are supported by the Campus-wide Equality in Science Programme.

Race Equity Network

The Race Equity network promotes race equity, inclusion, and cultural diversity on the Campus. It provides a safe and informal space for staff to share experiences and discuss issues relating to equity, inclusion and race. The network provides a mechanism for network members to feed into, and influence, other institutional bodies on Campus such as our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Forum and the Equality in Science programme, and it helps to promote the impact of issues relating to race beyond the boundaries of the Campus.

Parents and Carers Network

This network supports all Parents and Carers on Campus by providing interesting and relevant events and support throughout the year. These include regular talks with internal and external speakers, social networking events and peer to peer support and information sharing.

LGBTQ Network

The aims of our Campus-wide LGBTQ Network is to provide support for LGBTQ+ staff and students, increase understanding of community issues, and contribute positively to improve the diversity on campus. The network holds a series of talks and information sharing events to raise awareness around issue facing the LGBTQ+ community. The network also promotes inclusive practices and policies throughout campus and networks with other groups to share information and best practice.


To support our neurodiverse staff and students, the Sanger Institute has set up a Neurodiverse Working Group and there is also a campus wide network Slack Channel. The working group includes staff members from across our organisation who are interested in neurodiversity and/or may identify as being neurodiverse. The Slack discussion group has been set up to support a growing Campus Neurodiversity Network, which is open to all on campus.

Removing barriers to joining the institute

We positively encourage applications from candidates regardless of sex, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, religion or belief, marital status, or pregnancy and maternity status. We want to make applying for a vacancy and participation in our recruitment processes accessible to all and this includes making adjustments for individuals who identify as neurodiverse or as having a disability and/or long-term condition. You can find our reasonable adjustment statement here.

Challenging unhelpful behaviours – promoting our Speak Up culture

We recognise that the success of the Institute and its reputation depends on all of us doing the right thing. We support the highest professional standards, and encourage everyone to be transparent in their decision making processes, and seek to be inclusive to all.

To encourage this positive approach, we actively encourage a speak-up culture and provide tools and training to help empower everyone to seek advice if they have any concerns about wrong-doing.


For further information contact Dr Saher Ahmed, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: saher.ahmed@sanger.ac.uk