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BSI Diversity & Inclusion focus groups: understanding the needs of our community

The British Society for Immunology recently held two focus groups with BSI members to better understand the equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) needs of our membership and the immunology community, and to inform our upcoming work in this area.

After the publication of our Diversity & Inclusion Framework, which outlined our commitment to collaborating closely with our community to raise the bar for EDI in immunology, we invited BSI members to help shape our future work in this area. Our aim was to engage with people from different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives to gain feedback from the membership around our EDI work across all Society activities and ultimately, better represent the community’s needs.

In August and September 2022, BSI members came together for two open and honest discussions about what the Society does well, what we could be doing better and views on areas where we could provide additional support. We had a diverse attendance, comprising those who had sent through expressions of interest to participate and share their experiences and perspectives, as well as representatives from the BSI Forum, our committee who ensures the voice of the different sectors, career stages and locations are fed into our activities.

The two sessions were incredibly valuable and productive, offering a safe and inclusive space to communicate emerging challenges and opportunities, and attendees reported having a positive experience and wishing to continue being involved with the Society’s activities in this area.

We covered a wide range of topics that matter to our members, including the various BSI grant schemes and additional ways in which the Society can provide impactful financial support; the importance of recognition of EDI activities and how showcasing the work of our members in this area can help inspire others and move the needle in this area; and event accessibility, for example, considering new ways of planning poster sessions to create a more welcoming and supportive environment.

In these focus groups, we also discussed the progress of EDI in the wider immunology sector, examples of good practice and partnerships. Tackling the leaky pipeline in immunology to ensure diversity higher up in the career ladder, as well as working with universities and organisations to provide guidance and best practice in EDI, are a couple of examples of the areas covered.

We are proud to have started implementing ideas put forward, including opening up the Education and Public Engagement poster category at BSI Congress 2022 to include best practice examples of promoting diversity and inclusion within immunology.

In line with our commitment to tracking our progress openly, we will be publishing more information shortly on the progress that the BSI has made on the back of the discussions from these meetings.

Many thanks to our wonderful members who attended the focus groups. We look forward to continuing to build a platform to learn and grow together. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please contact us at