Diversity, equality & inclusion across BMJ

Diversity, equality & inclusion across BMJ

The active stance we take on supporting social justice translates beyond our people into the work we do with customers and partners.

As an established publisher, we understand the role journals need to – and can – play in creating a more positive, equitable, diverse and inclusive environment for women and underrepresented groups in research, clinical practice and scholarly publishing.

Being clear on what we expect from our editors and their teams begins as early as the peer review process. It continues through to the way we monitor the diversity of our editorial boards to ensure they reflect the communities we serve.

Our approach to the way we give authors and researchers support to have their work published remains the same, regardless of their sex, gender, race or ethnicity, first language, sexual orientation, religion, beliefs, disability status, age, status, nationality or citizenship. 

That approach is one that serves to dismantle the barriers that have previously prevented women and underrepresented groups from being published, having a voice or advancing their careers.

The work we do with our editors has firm measures in place to limit the effect of unconscious bias. Our editors are encouraged to consider DEI throughout the commissioning and selection process.

A commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion for BMJ and our journals

BMJ and our journals have the ability to stand up for diversity, equality, and inclusion in research, clinical practice, and scholarly communication—and the responsibility to do so

For over 200 years, academic journals have been the gatekeepers of scientific research publication, the means by which researchers receive recognition for their work, and the conduit for research to inform clinical practice. The BMJ has a 170-year history that stretches back to a time when US and European men primarily dominated research and clinical practice, and there was little room for diversity.

While we may tell ourselves that “times have changed” and the world is now much more equitable, this is not what the evidence tells us. The vast majority of editors of the top-cited medical journals are straight, white, men based in Europe and the US, and research conducted by women in top-cited medical journals receive fewer citationsThe BMJ’s “racism in medicine” special issue highlighted the perpetuating bias in every aspect of medicine, from the discrimination faced by junior and trainee doctors, to obvious racial disparities in patient outcomes.

There is also obviously still injustice in the research-to-publication cycle. Journals cannot simply state that they can only publish what they receive and are therefore immune to bias and prejudice. Journals consist of curations of scholarly content, and published articles are passed through editorial and peer review processes: people are involved in these processes, and everyone carries their own inherent bias. BMJ now recognizes the role that journals and editors play in perpetuating the cycle of injustice in research and scholarly communication, and we have outlined how we are actively working to tackle racism and injustice and support diversity, equality, and inclusion in all of our BMJ journals. [Read more]



 What we have done

Making all-male panels a thing of the past

BMJ will not host male-only panels and encourages our editors and staff not to attend male-only panels.

On International Women’s Day 2021, as we continue in our work to encourage diversity of representation on all fronts, we formally adopted a ‘no manels’ policy. With that, we state with complete conviction that BMJ staff will not participate in or chair panels made up exclusively of men.

When the opinions of qualified women are silenced, important perspectives are missed, inequalities are perpetuated, and everyone loses out

Made waivers and discounts are available on request to help authors from the Global South publish in our open-access journals.


Partnered with Editage to help those from the Global South improve the quality and readability of their articles. 


Encouraged authors to add the appropriate attribution of authors from the Global South in the author byline of papers.


What we have also done


Published our code of conduct outlining how to create a diverse and inclusive working environment. This is something we request all editors-in-chief and affiliated societies to agree to.


Recruited BMJ’s first company’s dedicated DEI manager who is pushing DEI initiatives forward and ensuring a diverse and inclusive organization.


Spoken out against racism in The BMJ ‘s racism in medicine’ special issue and this BMJ anti-racism page following the Black Lives Matter movement.


Enabled trans-scholars and others to easily change their names on their published work with our author name change policy.


Outlined five simple steps journal editors can take to put DEI at the forefront of their agenda. 


Published the ten changes that we are making to promote gender equality across The BMJ.


Joined 38 other publishing organizations to create a more inclusive and diverse culture within scholarly publishing.

Diversity leads to better research

#PublishingEquality | As an organization, we united with our fellow publishers to make research publishing more inclusive and diverse. We signed an agreement to take a proactive stance against bias, as we commit to working together to better reflect the diversity of their communities and to remove barriers for under-represented groups.

The joint agreement impacts scholarly publishing on a global scale, having been initiated by the Royal Society of Chemistry and signed by the American Chemical Society (ACS), BMJ, Cambridge University Press, the Company of Biologists, Emerald Publishing, Elsevier, Hindawi, IOP Publishing, Oxford University Press and the Royal Society. We are also engaging with more publishers to form a working group to collaborate on further actions to improve inclusion and diversity in publishing. 

Yet our work continues

Everything, from the way we interact with authors, reviewers, and editors, to the way we conduct our daily business, is being scrutinized to ensure we provide a fairer and more inclusive service for everyone.

We are doing this to create better ways to disseminate important research and help us move toward a world in which our sector can fully benefit from the work of everyone, regardless of their gender, sex, cultural position, or religious beliefs.

Enabling those from disadvantaged backgrounds to undertake professional journalism training

In June 2021, BMJ became an official partner of the National Council for the Training of Journalists’ (NCTJ) Journalism Diversity Fund (JDF).

We want to contribute financially and actively participate in the JDF’s mentoring program by giving successful candidates the opportunity to gain insights into the specialized branch of journalism. [Read more…]


Make our style guides inclusive | Continuously assess and improve on our internal BMJ writing style guides across all our products and journals so they include the most inclusive terminology when referring to sex and gender, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability status or nationality and citizenship


Diversify our editorial boards | By the end of 2022, will have a 50% gender equality split across our editorial teams and editorial boards.  We will also have a greater representation of people from the Global South on our boards.  We are currently collecting diversity data across all our editorial boards.


Encourage diversity in authors and reviewers from a diverse range of backgrounds and reduce the possibility of unconscious bias during the peer review process as much as possible.  We always encourage our editors to consider DEI when they are commissioning content and selecting reviewers.


Monitor the gender and ethnicity of all submitting and accepted authors and reviewers across all BMJ journals. This will help us benchmark author and reviewer trends and measure the impact of our DEI initiatives. The data will not be visible to editors so will not affect the editorial and peer review processes.


Screen offensive content | The measures we are putting in place will help us screen out offensive content. They will also support the procedures we have in place to deal with complaints about offensive published articles and historic, offensive content


Register a reporting guideline with a focus on diversity | Our work extends to developing a reporting guideline for how all diversity characteristics should be reported in research articles.


“As an employer and a leading voice in global medicine and health, we strongly oppose racism and support racial equality because more equal societies are healthier societies.”
Chris Jones, Chief Executive Officer, BMJ


BMA on Black Lives Matter

Our owners are also addressing enduring injustices faced by UK BAME healthcare workers


Creative Access

Supporting a more diverse creative economy by being an employer partner of Creative Access


Work experience program

Attracting individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds and avoiding unconscious bias in the selection process