Petra Korlevic

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion champions recognised at Best Practice Awards

The Wellcome Genome Campus holds its annual awards for Best Practice in supporting Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in science, in celebration of International Women’s Day

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The Best Practice Awards commend staff from all roles and levels across the Wellcome Genome Campus who have advanced Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).

Those recognised may have gone above and beyond to champion EDI activities that positively influence the scientific culture and working environment on Campus, or may be allies who actively advocate for others and support their colleagues to bring about positive change. The awards also celebrate those who are positive role models, who promote EDI through effective mentorship, or staff who proactively embed EDI principles into their day-to-day responsibilities. This year, 20 colleagues were nominated from across the Campus community.

Today (8 March), on International Women’s Day, two Best Practice Award winners are announced. We congratulate Professor Stephen Bentley, Principal Staff Scientist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, and Kully O’Keeffe, Office Manager at Broken String Biosciences, a start-up company based in the BioData Innovation Centre.

Stephen Bentley was nominated by two colleagues. Firstly, he was nominated for supporting an international member of his team, by listening and helping them overcome the challenges they’ve experienced since moving to the UK. He provided them with opportunities that best utilise their specific experience and talent, such as leading on global projects, which has expanded their professional network and bolstered their confidence as a scientist.

The second colleague nominated Stephen for setting an example and supporting his team to understand the international communities they work with in research. He encourages his team to bring about positive change and uses his platform to elevate the voices of those people most affected by the diseases the team studies. Together, Stephen and his team are working towards removing the inequalities present in pathogen research.

“I think we should all feel obliged to share the benefits that we gain from working on the Wellcome Genome Campus, and I strongly commend my team for their energy and enthusiasm in all our EDI activities, and for helping each other to do the right thing.”

Professor Stephen Bentley, Principal Staff Scientist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute

Kully O’Keeffe was put forward by three colleagues for proactively embedding EDI principles into her day-to-day responsibilities. Working at a newly-established start-up company, Broken String Biosciences, Kully has been pivotal in initiating policies and processes required by new companies. Kully also made embedding a culture of EDI a priority for the company from the outset – something unusual for such a small start-up – which she now leads and continues to develop.

Working towards this culture, Kully has produced an EDI policy and training session from scratch, which will be presented to the whole company, encouraging inclusion of EDI in the company’s ethos.

“I am delighted to receive the award for supporting Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in Science. To be nominated alongside amazing and talented colleagues on the Campus is really humbling. It has been a rewarding task to understand EDI and the importance from the outset, implement our first policy and create ongoing procedures and awareness within Broken String Biosciences. I’d like to thank my colleagues working in EDI for their support and patience, and thank my colleagues in the BIC team for their nomination.

Kully O’Keeffe, Office Manager at Broken String Biosciences

In addition to the winners, five people received special commendations for their work to champion EDI.

Those specially commended include Dinesh Aggarwal, a Wellcome Clinical PhD student jointly at the Sanger Institute and University of Cambridge, for his extensive work in investigating the diversity of recruitment outcomes in infection medical specialties, and presenting his findings to relevant recruitment and policy organisations.

Rodica Petrusevschi, Digital Strategy Officer at EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) was specially commended for her calm, compassionate and constructive responses to challenging situations. As a team player, she encourages people she works with to be the best they can be and is very respected by her colleagues.

Also receiving a special commendation is Briony Clarke, Head of Change Management at the Wellcome Genome Campus. Briony was nominated for recognising, valuing and utilising the differences in perspective, skills and experience of individual members of her team, and being flexible in playing to those strengths to build an effective team. She regularly includes EDI within discussions and is mindful, inclusive and encouraging of the potential diversity of those she works with.

Catherine Holmes, Marketing and Communications Manager for Learning and Training in Wellcome Connecting Science, was specially commended for actively considering issues relating to gender, race and ethnicity as part of her marketing role. She identifies areas where biases may occur and focuses on how they can be minimised, contributing to making Wellcome Connecting Science’s learning and training as equitable as it can be.

The final special commendation went to Michelle Craske, Recruitment Manager at the Wellcome Sanger Institute. Michelle is hardworking and continuously supports EDI in recruitment – she ensures job adverts are posted on several EDI job boards in order to reach as many people and groups as possible. She recently helped with the Sanger Excellence Fellowship and jumps at every EDI job opportunity Sanger has to offer.

“We have been celebrating our Campus-wide Best Practice Awards since 2015, and every year we are delighted and inspired to see how our community is working collectively and taking personal action to foster our inclusive culture. Congratulations to everyone who was nominated!”

Dr Saher Ahmed, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the Wellcome Sanger Institute

Professor Sir Mike Stratton, Director of the Wellcome Sanger Institute, and Dr Ewan Birney, Joint Director of EMBL-EBI presented the awards.

“We congratulate everybody who has been recognised with Best Practice Awards and special commendations. They deserve our deep approbation, appreciation and applause for assuming personal responsibility for improving Equality, Diversion and Inclusion across our organisations. As exemplars and beacons of aspiration, those celebrated today embed new thinking and consideration of EDI in the daily pulse of business on the Wellcome Genome Campus, and we take really great pride in them all and what they have achieved. While at the same time, we recognise that there is much more to be done in advancing EDI, and look forward to a bright and productive future.”

Professor Sir Mike Stratton, Director of the Wellcome Sanger Institute and CEO of the Wellcome Genome Campus

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