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Programme Overview

What is the Inclusive Leadership Programme?

Leadership training has repeatedly been identified as a key route to improving research culture, including in reports from the Wellcome Trust, The Royal Society, and Russell Group. Oxford Medical Sciences Division has developed an Inclusive Leadership Programme (ILP) to address this needs gap. The ILP trains Oxford Principal Investigators (PIs) in becoming more inclusive, transparent, and supportive leaders.

The ILP was developed by EDI professionals and consists of a series of training sessions and best practice workshops to nurture leadership skills for fostering inclusive and equitable environments. The programme has 6 in-person core training sessions, 3 sessions of action-oriented problem solving in groups, a 360° feedback review, and a personally tailored inclusion project (timetable below). The time commitment is anticipated at 5-6 days in total over the course of one year.

Who can take part?

We are now recruiting participants from across MSD for 2023-24. Participants will in general be nominated by their Head of Department.

Programme participants will be mid- to late-career researchers with significant responsibility for others, either through direct supervision or due to some administrative role. We strongly encourage participants who are now or expected to be in a leadership role in their department.

The main costs for the training programme are covered by Research England funds. Each participant’s home department is further requested to contribute funds toward an inclusion project, anticipated at between £500-£750.

What training will I receive from the Inclusive Leadership Programme?

Programme objectives are to:

  • Identify areas of improvement specific to individual PI leadership style, and the needs and challenges faced by their team.
  • Build foundational knowledge and skills to create and sustain inclusive environments, informed by individual needs and including tailored training.
  • Build confidence to approaching sensitive issues through professionally developed training focused on practical skills development, Action Learning Sets, facilitated discussions and roleplay.
  • Nurture a whole-group approach to fostering inclusivity through embedding best practices and undertaking a collaborative project with the PIs team. 

Training consists of four core elements:

  1. An inclusion-focused 360° feedback review.
  2. Training on leadership skills, bullying and harassment, EDI, and coaching.
  3. Action Learning Sets to integrate inclusive approaches in problem-solving.
  4. An inclusion project developed collaboratively with the PI’s team.

What impacts can we expect from the Inclusive Leadership Programme?

ILP participants are expected to integrate what they have learned into practice and create tangible positive changes in their working environments. The ILP may positively impact participants by:

  • Creating a supportive peer network around handling sensitive leadership issues
  • Developing knowledge of core concepts in EDI and confidence their application
  • Improving self-reflection and communication skills through Action Learning Sets, difficult conversation role play, and coaching
  • Providing structured reflection on leadership style and areas for improvement

To understand long-term impact on research environments, we will monitor supervisee and PI experiences through surveys over several years following participation in the ILP.

Feedback from the Inclusive Leadership Programme Pilot Cohort

The programme was piloted in 2022-23 with 15 full Professors, including Heads of Department and Directors of Oxford’s Wellcome Centres, receiving very positive feedback:

‘I loved it, the overall content, the delivery was highly interactive, open and concrete. I could share openly and it was not boring.’

‘The 360 review was life-changing.’

‘The ILP really helped me to calibrate my own attitudes and behaviours with other senior leaders. It illuminated areas where I might need to adapt my leadership style to accommodate the different needs of individuals. It also helped me to understand the need for more active engagement in promoting inclusivity, rather than relying on the assumption that our practice is sound.’ 

Inclusive Leadership Programme Schedule 2023-24


Session Content



  • Enrolment
  • Introduction to 360˚ Feedback

July-September 2023


  • Icebreaker
  • Project Workshop
  • Introduction to Action Learning Sets

9am – 12pm

Tuesday 3rd October


  • 360˚ Feedback Discussion

September – December


  • Inclusive Leadership

9am – 12:30pm

Wednesday 1st November


  • Coaching Workshop

12 – 4pm

Tuesday 5th December


  • Action Learning Set 1

Between 2nd-12th January 2024


  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (Part 1)
  • Project Check-in

12 – 4pm

Thursday 25th January


  • Action Learning Set 2

Between 19th February – 1st March


  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (Part 2)
  • Coaching Practice

9am – 12:30pm

Tuesday 26th March


  • How to Have Difficult Conversations
  • Project Check-in

12 – 4pm

Thursday 25th April


  • Action Learning Set 3

Between 13th-24th May


  • 1-2-1 Project Wrap Up

Between 20th May – June 14th


  • Project Presentations, Final Feedback & Celebration Dinner

4 – 9pm

Tuesday 18th June


  • Additional Optional Action Learning Sets

July onwards