Update from the Society President, Professor Julie Lovegrove on the recent developments in Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI)

Published online: 26 May 2021

Message from the President

Dear Colleague,

Global events during 2020 helped to shine a light on the issues of discrimination. I wrote to you at the time to reaffirm a commitment from the Trustees that they and I continue to renounce discrimination in all forms, and to highlight that Society’s members have an obligation to do all they can to eradicate discrimination and inequality in the field of nutrition sciences.

By way of an update there have been three significant developments in this continued work since I last wrote to you on 24th June 2020.

Firstly, during our recent bi-annual Business Planning meeting with the Society’s publishers, Cambridge University Press, their policy statements/positions on Business Ethics, Dignity at Work and Publishing Ethics, were reviewed and we noted they were closely aligned with our own. Cambridge University Press is the Society’s largest external partnership, and trustees are very pleased to see this close connection in the approach to eradicating discrimination and promoting equality of opportunity in our publishing work.

Secondly, the Society has joined as a member, and a sponsor, of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM. As part of this membership, we have played an active role in the APPGs inquiry into Equity in the UK STEM workforce. During February and March of this year, the APPG held four evidence roundtables to convene experts from across STEM sectors and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) fields – the Society, in partnership with the Royal Society of Biology, submitted evidence to these roundtables. The final report, with its call to action, will be launched this summer.

Finally, as highlighted as an intention in my 24 June letter, the Trustees have recently completed work on the 2021-2026 Strategic Plan and have integrated into the Plan objectives which will continue to cultivate a nutrition scientific community in which everyone feels welcome, respected and able to develop to their full potential in an atmosphere of equality of opportunity. The Plan will be launched this July, and embedded within it is an overarching statement of intent, which, in light of its importance to us all, I wish to share in advance with you in full:

“Ethical Behaviour and Standards of Conduct:

The strategic priorities of the Society, detailed within this Strategic Plan, are underpinned by embedded ethical principles, behaviours and standards of professional conduct. In order to reflect the Society’s ethical principles, the highest standards of conduct, competence and behaviour are expected of all members and employees of The Society. The Society looks to all partners and stakeholders to reciprocate in meeting these standards in spirit and in practice. The basic principles of ethical behaviour and standards of conduct of The Society (its members and employees) are based upon the fundamental freedom to speak, think and choose, and are demonstrated through:

  • Integrity (The demonstration of the highest standards of integrity and acting in good faith, with intellectual honesty and fairness)
  • Accountability (The obligation of everyone to be answerable for his/her actions and decisions, and to accept responsibility for them. To respect confidentiality, and the correct use of The Society’s resources)
  • Independence and Impartiality (To act with impartiality and professionalism, ensuring that the expression of personal views and convictions do not compromise performance of duties. Bias, prejudice, conflict of interest, or undue influence must not be permitted to supersede professionalism of conduct)
  • Respect (for the dignity, worth, equality of opportunity, diversity and privacy of all persons. To foster a multifaceted and inclusive culture, marked by the dignity and exemplarity of the way people interact, view one another, and respect individual contributions. To behave ethically at all times with utmost respect for each other and external stakeholders and partners, without any regard to gender, race, religion, creed, colour, nationality, age, marital status, sexual orientation or disability)
  • Professional commitment (To act as role models and demonstrate leadership, building professional, dignified and courteous competence on a foundation of ethical principles, professional expertise, excellence and a commitment to continuous improvement)"

Further updates in these important areas of equality of opportunity will follow this year.

The Nutrition Society is committed to be a leader and role model in EDI within a scientific learned society, nationally and internationally. However, to combat discrimination is a moral and ethical responsibility, which is shared by us all. The Nutrition Society’s Trustees will support those that are willing to stand up and take appropriate action where discriminatory behaviour is observed.