Best diversity and inclusion initiative
Black internship programme
As the national institute for health data scientists, Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) has a mission to coordinate the UK’s health data to enable discoveries that can improve people’s lives. There is an urgent need for health data scientists, in what is a rapidly expanding field, but there is also a significant under-representation of young Black scientists in the sector and beyond. Indeed, in 2019, just 3.5 per cent of academics working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), were Black.
To tackle this situation, HDR UK, working in partnership with the UK Health Data Research Alliance and #10,000 Black Interns, launched a new Health Data Science Black Internship Programme in 2021. Its objective is to transform the prospects of talented Black data health scientists and provide opportunities for them to flourish in STEM careers. Over the past two years, interns have joined HDR UK’s host organisations for summer placements.
With minimal budget, HDR UK’s communications campaign had three objectives: to attract young Black scientists to the scheme; to sign up organisations across the health and research sector as hosts; and, to raise awareness of the under-representation in the sector by showcasing the Class of 22.
HDR UK’s communications team created a toolkit for host organisations, providing materials to help with their communications and promote their involvement in the programme. A brochure for prospective interns and host organisations was created that showcased the success of the 2021 programme and highlight its benefits. It also created a promotional video, featuring short interviews with previous interns, explaining the opportunities that had subsequently arisen following their internships.
And finally, a dedicated area on HDR UK’s website provided details of the programme and explained what interns should expect – while later showcasing the Class of 22. (It has been viewed more than 21,000 times.)
The programme was promoted by targeted advertising on social media channels, including Twitter and LinkedIn, interviews on partner podcasts and a media relations drive. This secured coverage in specialist trade publications, such as Research Professional News and Technology Networks Magazine, and live television interviews with interns on Salam Britain and The Today Show on the Islam Channel. These were viewed more than 73,000 times.
In total, 384 people applied for a 2022 internship, of which 80 were selected for a placement with one of the 44 host organisations that participated in the programme. Every single participant said they would recommend the programme to others, and more than 130 prospective interns have already registered interest for the 2023 programme along with seven new host organisations.
The judges felt this was a campaign that achieved real, tangible results, and was clearly encouraging young Black scientists to explore the area of health data science as a potential career where once they might not have even considered the subject.