ਏਕਤਾ | Ektaa | Unity


To bolster organisational capability by improving the experiences and outcomes of their stakeholders.

Our mission

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We review pre-existing practices (policies, curriculum design, promotion pathways etc) and design and implement bespoke programmes to improve outcomes for diverse stakeholders. We bridge the gap between academia and industry, ensuring you are implementing the best evidence-based practice.

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Raising awareness

We provide training and organise focus groups to improve the organisation’s awareness and strategy to recruit and retain diverse people, ensuring they can thrive. We also deliver productivity boosting workshops, tailored to your needs. We also educate the community to remove stereotypes of industries that can benefit them and ensure industry is receptive and culturally aware.

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Talent acquisition

We support universities to serve as ‘talent powerhouses’ by training the next generation of talent and bridging the gap with industry and other higher education institutions to ensure the flow of talent through the pipeline. This increases the likelihood of securing graduate jobs with leading firms prior to graduation.

Career development for diverse stakeholders

Through our award-winning programmes, we provide funded internships, career workshops, networking, and mentoring opportunities to improve employability and accessibility to networks. This work involves engagement with external stakeholders, such as alumni.

Meet the founder

Dr. Mohani-Preet Kaur Dhillon, MRes, PhD, FHEA

Mohani is a Neuroscientist and Lecturer, with over a decade of experience in interdisciplinary research and education. Mohani has led several clinical trials, most recently investigating the link between long Covid-19 and the brain and has vast experience in curriculum design and assessment. In the final year of her PhD, Mohani was prompted to make a change as many of her students expressed that they felt underrepresented at university. It was at this point that Mohani created the ERA initiative, to resemble a new era of equity in academia. In her current role as Lead for Early Career Research Culture, Mohani is leading cultural reform within her organisation.  

“I believe that improving the accessibility of role models from underrepresented backgrounds and providing equitable opportunities will greatly encourage people to proceed with confidence as they see more accessible pathways ahead.”

Areas of practice

We work with academic institutions and corporate organisations to review their pre-existing practices and design and implement programmes that improve outcomes for all stakeholders. We work with organisations to build and develop pre-existing pipelines rather than demolishing their current system. We understand there is no one-size-fits-all solution and therefore we provide bespoke solutions tailored to the organisation.

We coach leaders across academia and industry to develop their inclusive capabilities and educate people from diverse cultural backgrounds on what they need to do to further enhance their career. 

  1. We provide fully funded research studentships and apprenticeships to people from underrepresented backgrounds. This will bolster CVs, improve employability and accessibility to employment networks.
  2. We have over 100 specialist mentors from organisations across the UK and we facilitate mentoring relationships. We are improving the accessibility and visibility of mentors from underrepresented backgrounds.
  3. We organise careers workshops to ensure careers are more accessible. We ensure aspiring talent is well informed of the opportunities available to them and how to market their transferrable skills.
  4. We organise and host networking events to provide access to networks that will help to propel diverse talent.
  5. We organise and host guest seminars by academics and industry professionals to engage with the public. This informs and raises awareness of the valuable work that academics and industry professionals do for society. This also improves knowledge transfer between different sectors.
  6. We use a two-pronged approach that seeks to embed ethical values at both the organisational level and at an individual level by educating the community to remove stereotypes of industries that will benefit them, and ensure industry is receptive and culturally aware.

We review admissions data, recruitment policies, curriculum design etc. We work with organisations to make this more inclusive. We facilitate think-tanks with your staff and/or students to implement a strategy that works for all and train staff to work with new guidance.

It is critical to set targets on internal diversity, equity and inclusion goals, incorporating feedback from underrepresented groups. The strategy and progress toward these aspirations should be communicated and cascaded regularly throughout the organisation. We can help you with this. 

We have designed, conduct and published inclusive research in conjunction with leading academic institutions. Our research focus is the following:

  • Analyse the reasons for loosing diverse talent throughout various sector pipelines and understand which strategies have helped.
  • Track our effectiveness in improving representation, and if there is significant improvement, to standardise our methodology so others can be informed.
  • Allow other organisations to benefit from our multi-faceted approach to improving equal representation, both nationally and internationally.

As a business committed to fostering growth and collaboration, we aim to empower other companies to enhance their capabilities. By conducting thorough reviews to identify goals and gaps, we work closely with our clients to develop strategic plans aligned with their objectives. Through offering training, development, supporting innovation, knowledge sharing, and continuous evaluation. We strive to facilitate meaningful progress and celebrate achievements together.

A combined experience of over half a century

We advise clients on how to set up analytics and research processes to investigate the delivery of your culture targets.

We have a combined experience of over half a century in:

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Grant and ethics applications

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Delivery and management of research studies

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Publishing and post-publication dissemination

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How to set up analytics and research process

The team

Dr Mohani-Preet Kaur Dhillon

EKTAA Director and Neuroscientist

“Some of these barriers have plagued my own journey through academia. I have lived experiences and am currently navigating my way through a leaky pipeline”

Dr Carwyn Hooper

Head of the Graduate School, the Head of Section for Humanities, Ethics, Law and Global Health, and the Course Director for the MSc in Global Health

"Widening participation and cultivating a supportive, inclusive, and diverse community of future scientific leaders is central to our aims and partnering with ERA plays a key role in enabling us to achieve these aims.”

Dr Mark

Senior Lecturer in Immunology, Associate Dean (Postgraduate Research)

“Through Ektaa CIC’s Equal Representation in Academia (ERA) initiative, I hope that we can now encourage engagement with students from underrepresented communities and welcome them into academia.”

Samina Alim

Content manager for Ektaa CIC. Final year medical student and incidentally, the first ERA ambassador.

"I absolutely love this role because I can see firsthand how valuable an ERA placement is. Students take away so many skills and a newfound confidence that will no doubt aid them for the bright future they envision."

Our enterprise collaborators

Howard Duffy

Deputy Head of Enterprise and Innovation

Howard comes from a background of supporting founders. He has worked in the start-up sector for the last 7 years and Higher Education for 10 years. In that time has focused on creating businesses with strong foundations, testing founders to focus on adding value to society through their business.

He has been part of a founding business team within the care sector. He has also supported businesses through SEIS & EIS funding rounds.

His expertise within the Higher education sector as well as his ability to support founders has been invaluable to Ektaa as our values align. Both Howard and Ektaa want to see the HE sector more accessible for those who it is not a standard option for.

Our lab hosts

Dr Androulla Elia

Androulla is a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences and Academic Lead for Biomedical Science Employability at St George's, University of London. Androulla’s research focuses on the sensitization of pancreatic cancer cells to anti-survival treatments and implications for future therapy. Her research specifically looks at how to target pancreatic cancer cells to undergo cell death using different combinations of treatment.

“It was a pleasure to welcome ERA candidate Maya Caan to our group this summer. Maya worked closely with research assistant Ella Rimmer on the project described above. She was both interested and engaged in understanding academic research, career opportunities and contributed to our research. I look forward to her returning to our group whenever she can and hope that we have been able to inspire her to continue with a career in academia.”

Dr Anissa Chikh

Anissa’s research focuses on unravelling the interplay of signalling pathways and genes regulation in skin homeostasis, inflammatory skin disorders, and skin cancer. Her group are also interested in investigating the role of receptor proteins in mitochondria homeostasis and oxidative stress in endothelial cells which may be relevant in different pathologies. Her group are specialised in a variety of genetic, molecular and cell biological techniques that they employ routinely to conduct their research.

“Never doubt your true potential and be confident to grab the opportunities on the way…like the ERA!”

Dr Audrey Teh

Audrey Teh is a Lecturer in Molecular Immunology at St. George's, University of London. With a PhD from Trinity College Dublin and Postdoctoral research experience at St. George's, Audrey has 16 years of experience in plant-made antibody engineering, manufacturing, and delivery. She is passionate about making medicines and vaccines affordable and accessible to everyone, especially to people in low- to middle- income countries. Her current research focuses on designing and engineering novel therapeutics in plants to combat cancer. Audrey is also dedicated to promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion in STEM education.

“Giulia demonstrated outstanding enthusiasm and dedication during her two-week placement. She is such a joy to work with. This is my second year supporting this programme as I think it is important to provide hands-on experience to underprivileged students, potentially igniting passion and direction in scientific fields where they are often underrepresented. This will hopefully level the playing field and ensuring opportunities in cutting-edge research and networking aren’t limited just to those with resources. I think diversifying the scientific community through such programs can drive innovation and offer fresh perspectives, enriching the scientific field. I would be glad to participate again in the future.”

Prof Mary Sheppard

Professor Sheppard qualified in medicine from University College Cork, Ireland and did her postgraduate training in pathology in London. She is consultant cardiac pathologist. Professor Sheppard is on the board of UK Association of Inherited Cardiac Conditions. She is also a member of a UK strategy group for aortic dissection with Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery. Additionally, she is on the board of the National Pilot study of unexplained death in the UK 2021. As well as this, she is honorary Professor at St Mary’s University of London and Imperial College, London and visiting professor to the Royal College of Pathologists of Australia and New Zealand, the Turkish Pathological Society and to the International Academy of Pathology.

“As a woman myself, I think encouraging women to enter science is particularly important, as we are underrepresented. The ERA placement has been an extremely positive opportunity for both my staff and myself. We are used to having students in the lab but it was good to have a mature ERA student like Javeria who learned and adapted very quickly”

Dr Laura Southgate

Dr Southgate is a Senior Lecturer and Deputy Head of Genetics at St George's University of London. She has over 20 years’ experience in human molecular genetics and genomics, developing a particular interest in defining the genetic causes of rare, inherited vascular disorders impacting all stages of life from neonates to adults. Laura gained her PhD in Medical & Molecular Genetics from King’s College London (KCL) and previously held post-doctoral positions at KCL and Queen Mary University of London. She has published numerous research articles in prestigious journals and regularly shares her professional opinion through expert panels and peer review. Aside from her research role, Laura enjoys creating learning content for undergraduate and postgraduate students via lectures, workshops and research projects, in addition to providing pastoral care to her personal tutees. In her spare time, she likes to travel and plays the piano, clarinet and violin (but not all at once!)

“As someone who is not from an academic family, I have been fortunate that colleagues and mentors have supported me at each stage of my academic career. The ERA programme therefore provides an opportunity for me to pay it forward and share what I have learned with students who may not have the same access to such valuable advice. By showcasing what an academic career has to offer, I hope to enthuse and inspire young students from diverse backgrounds to be able to make informed decisions about their future.”

“2Students from ethnic minority backgrounds often express that they cannot find role models from the same background amongst university staff.”

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“Students from ethnic minority backgrounds often express that they cannot find role models from the same background amongst university staff.”

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