Neus Prats: “Our aim is to promote ways in which equality and diversity can benefit the entire IRB Barcelona community”

  • <p>From left to right, Equality Advisory Board members Roser Nadal, Isabelle Vernos and Gerlind Wallon.</p>
  • <p>Group picture at the Institute with the people that launched the working group on gender equality and diversity.</p>

How well does IRB Barcelona fare in addressing its employees' expectations when it comes to gender equality, inclusion and diversity? To answer this crucial question, a working group has been set up at the Institute. Its goal is to pave the way for the implementation of gender equality and diversity procedures and policies for all employees.

Histopathology Core Facility Manager Neus Prats is leading this working group. The group will soon give way to a proper Equality and Diversity Committee that will include members representing all IRB Barcelona's communities. The group currently includes Head of Human Resources Sylvia Martínez, Group Leader Maria Macias, Research Grant Coordinator Sònia Saborit, and Content Manager Luca Tancredi Barone. In January, the Directorate also appointed an Equality Advisory Board, which is formed by Isabelle Vernos (ICREA Research Professor and Group Leader, CRG), Roser Nadal (subdirector of the Neuroscience Institute, Autonomous University of Barcelona), Gerlind Wallon (Deputy Director, EMBO), and Inés Sánchez Madariaga (Rector’s delegate for Gender Equality, Madrid Polytechnic University).

“As the European Commission says, 'gender equality is achieved when individuals are free to develop their abilities and make choices without being limited by gender stereotypes,'” explains Managing Director Margarida Corominas. “IRB Barcelona's priority is to implement gender equality, and we are committed to improving our policies in this field. National and international bodies are showing growing sensitivity to these issues, and many research centres comparable to ours are working in this direction. In this regard, our External Advisory Board and newly appointed Equality Advisory Board have encouraged us to take firm steps in this direction.” A good source for information about this is the RRI Tools portal.

The first important phase involves data collection. We are all aware of human resources statistics—they can be consulted in any annual report—but what we do not know is how employees at the Institute feel about diversity, equality and inclusion on a day-to-day basis. “In June we are going to send a survey to all our employees,” says Sylvia Martínez. “It is the first attempt to collect this kind of information, and it is very important that as many people as possible respond. The objective is to diagnose the work environment at IRB Barcelona, identifying the issues that employees perceive as relevant and significant in their everyday activities. This diagnosis is necessary in order to be able to devise specific future measures.”

The first objectives of the working group include the revision of our equal opportunity measures. “The new equality plan due at the end of the year is a good occasion to rethink our policies in this field,” Neus Prats points out. Support for young researchers and women in leading positions are next in line. “But it’s not just these issues. We are serious about facing the challenges we have in this field. For example, with the help of the Grants Office, we are hoping to join a European Project dedicated to supporting research organisations in the implementation of effective gender equality plans,” she adds.

Another key point is training in gender issues, unconscious bias and equality. “As scientists, we know that training is important in any field to tackle problems. If we want to be at the level of reference centres in the world, we have to be fully aware of the issues at stake. As an example, the ERC provides all its panel members with a course on unconscious bias before any evaluation,” says Neus.

Neus is very enthusiastic about this new responsibility. “It is going to be a stimulating challenge for me to help make sure that IRB Barcelona employees — both men and women—feel supported and achieve a healthy work-life balance–,” she says. “Input from the IRB community is most welcome. All you have to do is drop an email to one of the members of this group.”



*** Updated information in March 2017

The current members of the committee are:

Neus Prats
Core Facility Manager (Chair of Committee)
Isabel Gordaliza
PhD student
Jelena Urosevic
Postdoctoral Fellow
Gonzalo Fernández-Miranda
Research Associate
Lidia Pérez
Research Assistant
Maria Mácias
Group Leader
Xavier Salvatella
Group Leader
Sònia Saborit
Research Grants Coordinator
Sylvia Martínez
Head of Human Resources (HR)
Claudia Vera
HR Talent & International Mobility Officer (Secretary of Committee)