Like many organisations, the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests have caused UKAEA to take stock of our approach to diversity and inclusion, and race in particular.
We have spent the last two weeks listening to our staff and talking about the situation and our response to it.
Many of our people have rightly expressed their anger and frustration at the racial injustices that still blight our society – brought to the surface by recent events.
We cannot change the world from UKAEA, but we can make sure we are inclusive and supportive and create an environment in which everyone can thrive. In so doing, we can achieve greater diversity among our employees.
UKAEA needs talented people from every background and race, and we must ensure our own prejudice and behaviour does not stop people excelling.
Science and engineering have been too inaccessible for black people for too long, and we need to do much more to change this. As a plasma physicist, I can count on my fingers the number of black plasma physicists I know in the world. This is utterly absurd, but demonstrates how deeply discrimination pervades our society.
We are on a journey to improve. We are using the Athena SWAN equality accreditation scheme as a standard for bringing about the changes we need to make as an organisation, and have achieved the Bronze award. We now have a full-time Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Partner, Marcia Ore, and are working on our Being Inclusive strategy, which will cover race.
I fully recognise we have a long way to go, but we are committed to the journey.
Professor Ian Chapman
CEO, UK Atomic Energy Authority