News Room

Acas Research Partnership: Call for proposals to undertake research on Staff Race Networks

Deadline: please send your proposal and costs to Acas by 7 December 2020

Acas is seeking expressions of interest to undertake a partnership research project on workplace internal staff race networks. In addition to understanding the coverage, prevalence and patterns of their use, we seek to review the purpose of these networks and identify the factors that underpin their success.

There is an increasing recognition of the importance of employee network groups - particularly BAME or race networks - in helping employers act on equality issues in the workplace, especially those around recruitment and progression.  Acas wish to gain a greater understanding of these networks and would like to commission research that: reviews the purpose of race networks and explores their role in the contemporary British workplace, and; identifies best practice and the factors that determine their success (in terms of how these groups are conceived, structured and maintained).

We would like to develop a small research programme that combines a systematic evidence review with multiple organizational case studies, the latter taking account of multiple perspectives: HR (via D&I leads); the Chairs and Champions of the networks (including trade unions), and; the network participants. (There may also be a benefit in additionally capturing broader management/leadership perspectives beyond those of HR depending on the structure of the organizations at issue).  That said, we welcome proposals from respondents to this call, on both the scope of the enquiry and methodologies used.

We are also interested in collecting quantitative data on the coverage, prevalence and patterns of networks and have plans to include a limited number of questions relating to this in a future employer poll provisionally scheduled for 2021. We would seek to work with the appointed project team to design questions that complement the wider study outlined here.  This polling would be funded separately as a discrete piece of work, but we would hope to integrate findings with those of the wider study.

This research will be used in three ways by Acas:

  1. To widen Acas’ understanding of the topic in order to supporting future policy activity in this area, aimed at ‘influencing employment policy and debate’ (one of Acas’ strategic aims)
  2. To inform future written guidance by Acas on setting up and maintaining staff race networks (supporting another Acas strategic aims viz. ‘advising on good practice in everyday working life’)
  3. To enable Acas to review the effectiveness and guide the support we give to our own internal staff race network (and other internal staff networks)

We therefore expect to use the outputs arising from this work to make an impact on raising Acas’ profile in this subject area as well as to add to our evidence base.  We anticipate that the output will take the form of a research report and/or written case studies suitable for publication (although we are happy for you to suggest other outputs you think may be applicable).  Publication would be on the Acas website in our Research Papers series ( although we would also be supportive of parallel publication within academic literature.


Tender selection

This partnership project will be managed by social researchers in the Research, Analysis and Insight team in Acas. Acas’ approach to developing research partnerships is not limited to work with academics and we regularly work with other organisations to sponsor and conduct research.  It may be possible for Acas to help with access to employers/employees, but we would prefer that potential bidders also think about other ways to gain access to employers/employees if this is part of their research design. In some cases Acas colleagues play a role in elements of data collection, and this can lead to co-ownership of outputs. In all instances, we anticipate close working on the design of projects and outputs.  Our funding contribution will capped at a maximum of £20,000 which we cannot exceed.

Applications (in the form of written, short proposals) will be considered and scored on the basis of the merits and credentials of proposals received. Additionally, all bids should signal their agreement to Acas’ standard terms and conditions.  We welcome more than one proposal if you have more than one suggestion for research.

If you are interested in working with Acas and carrying out research in this area, please email stating your interests. We will then provide details of how to apply (including scoring criteria for bids and a copy of Acas’ standard short form terms and conditions of contract).

Please note that any projects commissioned under this scheme will need to be substantively underway by March 2020 and completed as soon as possible thereafter. The deadline for receipt of proposals is 10.00am on Monday 7 December 2020.


19th November 2020