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Analysis paper

Diversity and inclusion in the think tank sector

Think tanks need to improve outreach, change perceptions of the sector and adapt their recruitment to improve their diversity.

Workforce, team building concept

Think tanks need to improve outreach, change perceptions of the sector and adapt their recruitment to improve their diversity. 

This report investigates why think tanks are not as diverse as they could be and looks at barriers faced by applicants from minority ethnic groups and those from a lower socio-economic background.  

With diversity vital for research organisations – for its own sake, and because a diverse staff will be better able to draw on a wider range of experience to inform research – the report sets out a series of recommendations to make recruitment in the think tank sector more inclusive.  

It calls for greater outreach efforts to raise awareness of the think tank sector and reach people who might never currently think of applying, as well as conducting an external audit of recruitment processes to ensure they are as fair and inclusive as possible.  

The recommendations, which include both internal changes and sector-wide reforms, include: 

  • Ensuring that all short-term roles and internships are paid and advertised on a range of public jobs websites  
  • Conducting a disparity audit of their recruitment process and potentially redesigning it based on the results; for instance, by changing the tests involved or using a contextualised recruitment tool  
  • Considering whether and how to open up alternative, non-graduate routes into the sector; for instance, by accepting applications for junior roles from people with a degree ‘or equivalent experience’  
  • Organising some of their pre-existing work into a specialist resource for school and university students, linked to the A-level or degree syllabuses for relevant subjects  
  • Collecting statistics on the diversity of those appearing at their events and in the media, and using these to consciously target under-represented groups in those who they invite or suggest for media appearances  
  • Publishing a statement on diversity on their website that recognises the problems in the sector and sets out what they as an organisation are doing to tackle them 
  • Considering whether their location is putting off candidates from other parts of the country, and potentially joining a scheme to lend the cost of a rental deposit to new starters from elsewhere in the country  
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