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Worldwide Cancer Research’s commitment to opportunity without barriers

6th November 2020

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.

Our organisational values are to be genuine and self-aware, respectful and collaborative, reflective and curious. We seek, value and learn from different perspectives and experiences.

However, this year’s spotlight on the painful consequences of injustice and on the continued oppression of vulnerable and marginalised peoples has shown us that we need to be doing more. The powerful actions of the Black Lives Matter movement have made it clear that it’s not enough to ‘not be racist’ - we have to take an active stand against discrimination, take responsibility for our own shortcomings and do better.

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 sit within two worlds, the charity sector and the medical research sector, that are both overwhelmingly and disproportionately white and middle-class at senior levels. Currently, we are no exception to this – that needs to change.

We have a responsibility to all cancer patients, present and future, to search for the most innovative ideas from researchers around the world so that we can start new cancer cures. 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.

We need to address this the right way and make a meaningful change in the long term. To do this, we need to identify any areas where we currently contribute to the current system of structural inequality – however unconsciously or unintentionally. As a first step, we are focusing on the promotion of diversity and equity in our recruitment and research grant processes so that we can ensure that there is no bias in our funding or hiring decisions.

This is just the start, and it is something we need to keep working at, every single day.

We know that it is actions, not words, that make a difference, and we commit to being open and transparent about the actions we will be taking in the weeks, months and years to come. In the meantime, we welcome and appreciate your thoughts and feedback.

As always, you can reach us on 0300 777 7910 or by emailing us at enquiries@worldwidecancerresearch.org.