Our commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Our approach

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion is about ensuring that we have in place the right policies and organisation culture to attract, retain, support and develop the most diverse range of people.  Across our workforce, our board and committees, the scientists we fund and the supporters who fund them, we want to search for and appeal to the greatest range of skills, experiences and backgrounds.

But it isn’t enough to be diverse, we must also be equitable and inclusive if we are to realise the value that diversity can bring. This means that in all our stakeholder groups we aim to create a welcoming environment where everyone can be themselves, share their opinions, and be open. We must also provide equitable access to opportunities and development. 

In a people-centric charity, our EDI approaches should be at the heart of what we do.  By valuing and promoting individuality we will strengthen our work as a team towards a shared vision – no life cut short by cancer.  A vision that unites us all.

Our commitment

Dr Colin Thomson founded Worldwide Cancer Research in 1979 with one mission – to conquer cancer – and the charity has always been centred on the inclusive principle that lifesaving cancer research ideas can start anywhere, with anyone. 

But we sit within two worlds, the charity sector and the medical research sector, that are not diverse enough either in the UK or globally – especially at senior levels.  Cancer affects people of every nationality, ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, level of wealth, and state of physical and mental health.  Yet neither sector reflects the diversity of the 18.1 million people across the world, including more than 450,000 people in the UK, who are diagnosed with cancer every year[1].

This is a problem because biased research agendas – however unconscious – will inevitably focus the benefits of research towards some types of cancer patient at the expense of others.  Indeed, this has historically been the case[2].   On top of that, if cancer researchers, charity staff and supporters are drawn mostly from a narrow section of society, we lose the innovation and broader thinking that would have come from people with other perspectives.  To bring cancer breakthroughs forward faster for everyone we need to work together and draw on all the ideas and creativity we can. Cancer is non-discriminatory, so must we be.

Our principles

Over the last four decades, our commitment to our mission, principle and values has remained the same, but we need to work harder to make sure our reality reflects our vision. We must identify where we contribute to the current system of structural inequality so that we can drive long-term, sustainable change. Our approach is to focus on key areas where we can make tangible improvements guided by the following principles: 

Ideas from anywhere

We have a responsibility to all cancer patients to search for the most innovative ideas from researchers around the world so we can kickstart new cancer discoveries. And whilst it is true that a good idea can come from anywhere, it is also true that some people are better placed to have their good ideas heard because of their background and the opportunities available to them. If we don’t actively work to address this, we risk losing out on lifesaving discoveries. 

Inclusive employer

Our organisational values are to be curious, united, real, entrepreneurial, and spirited. We strive to seek, value, and learn from different perspectives and experiences, across all areas of our work. We are determined that everyone in, and everybody who wants to join Team Worldwide receives equitable, fair treatment, and is recognised for who they are and the contribution they make. We are committed to honing the governance and leadership necessary to set the right ‘tone at the top’.

Broad cancer perspective

Anybody can be affected by cancer, anywhere in the world, and as a charity that funds research into any type of cancer our work ought to reflect this.  We commit to maintaining a balanced and diverse portfolio of funded research that aims to bring forward breakthroughs for all. We also undertake to make our communications more accessible and inclusive, and representative of the true diversity of people affected by cancer.

Our priorities

The initial priority is to focus on diversity and equity in our staff recruitment and research grant award processes to ensure we remove any bias in our hiring and funding decisions.


We will:

  • Monitor diversity metrics within our grant application and award process and act on anything that suggests bias in our funding decisions
  • Improve the diversity on our Scientific Advisory Committee
  • Promote our grant funding opportunities broadly to cancer researchers across the world, with a focus on research-active countries that are historically underrepresented in our grant portfolio
  • Maintain broad eligibility criteria for grant applicants; recognising that good ideas can come from scientists at any career stage, and to accommodate the many different scientific career pathways around the world
  • Improve the accessibility of our grant round to all cancer researchers, for example by
    • ensuring our grant application instructions are simple, clear and easy to read especially for researchers whose first language is not English
    • maintaining an in-house support team who respond to questions quickly
    • incorporating assistive technology where possible

Beneficiaries and supporters

We will:

  • Strive to represent the real diversity of cancer patients and researchers when we tell stories of Curestarters
  • Communicate with supporters in ways that are accessible and inclusive, for example by using clear language and easy-to-read colours and text
  • Track funding data to ensure our research programme remains sufficiently broad, representing many cancer types including rarer cancers, cancers of unmet need, and those more prevalent outside high income countries and populations
  • In the longer term, look at what we can do to ensure results of the research we fund are representative of, and translate to, the true patient population – for example by ensuring that experimental models include both sexes

Team Worldwide

We will:

  • Provide continuous awareness training, education & development for Team Worldwide, supported by a D&I group that will always include at least one member of the senior executive team and a Board Champion
  • Ensure all members of Team Worldwide have several routes by which they can highlight problems or raise grievances, and more importantly that the culture of the organisation makes it safe and worthwhile for them to do so
  • Continually develop and refine policies and benefits that actively support an inclusive working culture, for example hybrid & flexible working
  • Systematically monitor diversity metrics in recruitment, including at senior and Board levels, and act on anything that suggests bias in hiring decisions
  • Promote diversity in hiring by working to reach and attract underrepresented groups and striving for balanced, diverse shortlists for all roles
  • Reduce the likelihood of bias in hiring decisions through good practice such as anonymised CVs; formalised, consistent and transparent shortlisting and interview procedures; and assembling diverse interview panels

Our accountability

Improving EDI within the team and in the delivery of our charitable mission is not a separate programme of activity; it is embedded within our strategic plan, our core objectives and KPIs, and it touches on all our policies, procedures and expected behaviours.  The CEO and senior executive team are held to account on this by the Board of Trustees and we will report on progress every year within our main annual review.


[1] 2020 GLOBOCAN data, World Health Organisation

[2] For example:





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