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NPDC23 Reflections: Designing an inclusive and diverse conference for postdoctoral researchers

NPDC23 Reflections: Designing an inclusive and diverse conference for postdoctoral researchers

As we plan for the C-DICE Annual Conference 2024, it seems an opportune time to reflect on our mission to make the 2023 National PostDoc Conference (NPDC23) that C-DICE hosted last autumn, as inclusive and diverse as possible. Our aim was to create a warm welcoming environment for postdoctoral researchers where they could get to together to share experience and knowledge of all things to do with their postdoc journey. 

EDI was a thread that was woven throughout the design, delivery, and evaluation of the conference. In this blog we identify our top three EDI interventions that we feel made a real difference to the delegates: 

  1. Representative steering group. 
  1. A support packages on EDI for conference contributors. 
  1. Pro-active in anticipating and catering to delegates needs. 

Representation is key. 

From the outset C-DICE wanted to create a conference that was warm and welcoming for all, and where all postdoctoral researchers felt that their voices could be heard, and their needs met. To get input from as diverse group of postdocs as possible, we ensured that a wide range of postdoctoral researchers joined the steering group, covering a variety of protected characteristics and marginalised groups. To acknowledge their contribution to making the event a success they were offered a “Designing and Planning a Major National Conference” micro-credential that was validated by the C-DICE advisory board.  

Co-creating the NPDC23 programme with the postdocs from the outset meant that we could incorporate and embed their perspectives, ideas and needs in the conference design and delivery. Having a diverse steering group enabled us to actively listen to people with a variety of lived experiences. Where we had identified a lack of representation, for example neurodiversity, we supplemented this by gathering perspectives from outside of the steering group, for example from members of the C-DICE team, our C-DICE fellows, and the wider C-DICE network. This enabled us to proactively anticipate delegates accessibility requirements and put timely, appropriate interventions in place so that all postdocs could play an active and meaningful role in NPDC23. 

Provide tailored EDI packages for contributors. 

Organising and delivering NPDC23 meant getting people from a variety of different backgrounds together to deliver content on our behalf. By providing them with tailored EDI support we managed to consistently deliver our mission of EDI being a core component of the delivery. Clear, simple, easily implemented, EDI guidance was given to all contributors from keynote speakers through to postdoc led workshops to ensure that EDI was woven throughout the delivery of the day.

Pro-active in anticipating and catering to delegates needs. 

Listening to the diverse voices of our steering group and wider networks enabled us to proactively put in place interventions that we felt made NPDC23 a welcoming enjoyable conference for all. Examples include a quiet, chill out area for people that find “peopling” all day a bit too much, easily accessible prayer rooms, and all events in the plenary room having a British Sign Language (BSL) translator. Once we started planning for the BSL interpreter it became clear how important that this was to do proactively rather than reactively on delegates request, as the lead time to book a BSL interpreter can be up to six-months! 

So, our top tips for creating a truly welcoming, inclusive, diverse, and enjoyable conference for all is to make it people centric. Where the people are truly representative of the community your conference is aimed at (and not just people like you). Make sure you actively listen to peoples’ lived experience and adapt your plans accordingly. And lastly but certainly not least support the people delivering content on your behalf in making their sessions as EDI friendly as possible. 

For anyone thinking of applying to host NPDC24 feel free to reach out to the C-DICE team at, we’d be more than happy to elaborate on our experience of hosting this fantastic conference.  The above are just our top three recommendations for the purpose of this blog, go to the dedicated EDI web page for a full list. 

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