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Equality and diversity 

We believe that our strength comes from combining what we have in common – our shared goals and values – with what makes each of us different. 

Creating an inclusive culture where all our staff and students feel supported to reach their potential is essential to the ICR’s mission to make the discoveries to defeat cancer. We are committed to valuing all our people, and giving everyone equal access to recruitment, career development and promotion. 

We are proud to hold an Athena SWAN Silver award, given in recognition of the impact of our work to address gender equality, and to be Stonewall Diversity Champions, actively creating a workplace where all employees are accepted as themselves, regardless of gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.  

In September 2020, we launched Race Equality: Beyond the Statements, an action plan addressing the under-representation of black, Asian and minority ethnic staff in leadership roles and in research careers. We remain steadfast in our commitments outlined in the plan. 

Equality is also a strand of the ICR’s Sustainability action plan, which sets out the ICR’s plans to implement the UN Sustainability goals.

Gender equality

We want to promote change by identifying and addressing the challenges people face in establishing their careers because of their gender.

Gender equality

Race equality

As both a research and higher education institution, we are determined to address the racial inequality and systemic racism in science and the higher education system.

Race equality

LGBT+ equality

We strive to provide a supportive environment that celebrates everyone for who they are, and want all staff and students to feel accepted and safe at the ICR.

LGBT+ equality




Support for staff and students

Staff and student equality networks and committees

Equality networks
We have three equality networks, run in collaboration with The Royal Marsden Hospital (RMH), who are working to develop a welcoming and inclusive culture for all: 

Formal committees
We also have three formal committees working on equality and diversity:

  • The Equality Steering Group, which manages equality across all nine protected characteristics. It has oversight of all our equality programmes and ensures that they are integrated and aligned with the ICR’s other strategies and programmes. 
  • The Athena SWAN Steering Group leads our gender equality programmes and implementation of the Athena SWAN action plan. Membership includes representation from all divisions and staff groups, to ensure that many voices and experiences are heard.  
  • The Race Equality: Beyond the Statements Project Board brings together action holders from HR, Communications, Academic Services, the race equality champions and representatives from the REACH Forum to implement and track progress on our race equality action plan. 

We also have staff and student committees for Postdocs, Scientific Officers, students and administrative staff.


We understand that disability covers a range of impairments – from mobility difficulties through to long-term illnesses, neurodivergence, or mental illness. Staff and students are not obliged to disclose a disability, but are encouraged to do so so they can receive appropriate support. 

We have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to our practices and premises to accommodate a disabled person, where the arrangement or physical feature of the premises causes a substantial disadvantage. Such adjustments can include making changes to premises or location of workplace, altering the working hours, allowing time off for rehabilitation or treatment, acquiring equipment, providing training, and more. 

Access for All is a staff and student equality network for staff and students with disabilities and health conditions. It is joint with The Royal Marsden, meets quarterly, and aims to provide a peer support network for disabled people, carers and allies and to advocate and raise awareness of disability. 

Bullying and harassment

We believe that an open and supportive working and learning environment that values everyone and is free of intimidation, bullying and harassment is essential for our work to defeat cancer. We do not tolerate bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct of any kind and will always take any such allegations extremely seriously.

We deliver mandatory training for all new staff and students, which covers our working culture, relevant equality legislation, bullying and harassment, and being an active bystander - empowering staff and students to challenge unacceptable behaviours.

We also set up several routes to discuss or report unacceptable behaviour, including volunteer wellbeing advisers, trade union representatives, and an online Report + Support platform which gives the option to file an anonymous complaint. 

We define bullying as conduct – often, but not necessarily, involving the abuse or misuse of power – with the intention or the effect of undermining, humiliating, demeaning, oppressing or intimidating the recipient. In many cases it takes the form of aggressive, offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour. There may be no direct intention to bully. This definition is based on the ACAS definition of bullying. 

Harassment is legally defined by the Equality Act 2010 as unwanted conduct relevant to a related protected characteristic which has the purpose, or effect, of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.  

The Equality Act 2010 defines the following as protected characteristics: Age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. 

Harassment may be persistent or a single incident and is likely to constitute unlawful discrimination. Some forms of harassment can be a criminal offence. 

Sexual misconduct
Sexual misconduct relates to all unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, including but not limited to: unwanted sexual advances; promises made in exchange for sexual favours; assault; rape; speculation about an individual's sexuality or sexual behaviour; and the distributing of private explicit images or videos of an individual without their consent.

Religion and belief

All staff and students at the ICR have the right to practice their faith or religion, and we do not tolerate discrimination because of religion or belief (including lack of belief). 

A chapel and a prayer room are available at both our sites in The Royal Marsden and are free to be used by all staff and students, whether they practice a particular religion or not. 

In February 2021, we adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism. This supports our commitments to promote equality and diversity and to prevent discrimination on grounds of race, religion, or other protected characteristics. 

Our strength lies in our diverse workforce - we need differing perspectives and insights to enable a creative, vibrant and successful culture.

— Kristian Helin, Chief Executive of the ICR