The Athena SWAN Charter was originally established to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing women's careers in the STEMM (science, technology, engineering, maths, and medicine) careers but now takes a broader view of the issue of gender equality.
The John Innes Centre Athena SWAN application was overseen by a group of staff and students from a spectrum of roles within the organisation and led by Dr Carole Thomas.
She said: "We’re dedicated to becoming a work place where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. As we work towards this, it’s fantastic to be recognised with the highest award from the Athena SWAN Charter, especially as it allows us to reflect on how we can achieve more."
Director of the John Innes Centre, professor Dale Sanders says: "Receiving the Gold award is a tremendous achievement. It celebrates a genuine commitment to our staff, and to equal opportunities, recognising the work of the whole organisation to become a diverse and inclusive working environment."
The centre achieved the standard over the past three year by working to improve its family-friendly initiatives. These include a Family Support Fund and new institutional fund that is designed to support staff on fixed-term contracts with an extension of employment of up to six months following their return from parental leave.
The Athena SWAN Charter is run by the Equality Challenge Unit, which works to promote equality and diversity in universities and colleges. Athena SWAN manager Dr Ruth Gilligan said taking part in Athena SWAN requires a significant commitment to tackle systemic inequality.
"Congratulations to John Innes Centre on being the first research institution to be awarded the Athena SWAN gold award. By achieving this very high standard this demonstrates the centre’s commitment to good practice and outcomes which is effecting cultural change within the research institute."
The John Innes Centre plans to share its Athena SWAN submission on the equality and diversity pages of its website.