European Commission adopted in 2005 a European Charter for Researchers and a Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers. These two documents, addressed to researchers as well as research employers and funders in both the public and private sectors, are key elements in the EU's policy to boost researchers' careers.
Specifically, the European Charter for Researchers is a set of general principles and requirements which specifies the roles, responsibilities and entitlements of researchers as well as of employers and/or funders of researchers. It constitutes a framework for researchers, employers and funders which invites them to act responsibly and as professionals within their working environment, and to recognise each other as such.
Moreover, the Code of Conduct for the recruitment of researchers consists of a set of general principles and requirements that should be followed by employers and/or funders when appointing or recruiting researchers. These principles and requirements are complementary to those outlined in the European Charter for Researchers. Institutions and employers adhering to the Code of Conduct will openly demonstrate their commitment to act in a responsible and respectable way and to provide fair framework conditions to researchers, with a clear intention to contribute to the advancement of the European Research Area.
Open, transparent and merit-based recruitment (OTM-R) has been included as a key part of this process. The ‘OTM-R Package’ is a set of practical and useful tools for implementing Open, Transparent and Merit-based recruitment practices in Research Performing Organisations and brings benefits to researchers, institutions and a country's research system. More specifically, OTM-R makes research careers more attractive, ensures equal opportunities for all candidates and facilitates mobility. Overall, it may contribute to an increase in the cost-effectiveness of investments in research.
To help accommodate the research institutions to the Charter and Code principles, the Commission set out a procedure through which those institutions interested in including them, could design their own Human Resources Strategy.
This procedure consists of five steps:
- Preparation of a rigorous Internal Analysis.
- Publication of the Institution Strategy in the corporate website to maintain and improve the Charter and Code.
- Evaluation and approval of the Strategy by the Commission.
- Application and continuous self-assessment of the process by the institution
- And finally, have the Strategy and its deployment evaluate externally by the Commission every four years after initiating the process.
The initiative of defining and deploying this Strategy is carried out in collaboration with the Commission and other institutions, members of the pilot group, including the other institutions that already have this acknowledgement and those in the process of obtaining it, which constitutes the best forum for exchanging and sharing best practices.
HR Strategy in Ikerbasque
Ikerbasque Strategy for attracting talented researchers was established in 2007 and reflects the commitment for excellence, openness, flexibility, pan-European focus, ethical awareness and ethical and human values.
HRS4R is a mechanism to support the implementation of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (C&C).
Ikerbasque signed the “Declaration of Commitment to the Principles of the European Charter of Researchers and Code of Conduct for the Recruitment ff Researchers” in 2008 and was invited by the EC to take part in the 2nd Cohort of HR Strategy Group to implement a HR Strategy related Action Plan. During 2011, Ikerbasque underwent the Internal Analysis process of the "HR Strategy for Researchers" (HRS4R) fostered by the European Commission.
The outcome of that Internal Analysis was our first Action Plan (2011) to support the implementation of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (C&C). As a consequent of this, in October 2011, Ikerbasque was awarded the "HR Excellence in Research" logo and recognition.
At the end of 2013, Ikerbasque underwent a self-assessment process for reviewing and following-up the implementation of the Action Plan designed in 2011 as part of the continuous improvement of our talent recruitment, retention and recognition of careers processes. The process involved the Governing Board, Researchers, Staff and a variety of stakeholders. After completing that self-assessment, the Revised 2014-2016 Action Plan was developed, focused on the implementation of initiatives internally identified, and the recommendations suggested from the EC.
5 years after the “HR Excellence in Research” acknowledgement was received, Ikerbasque run a new self-assessment process in 2016, which resulted in the HRS4R 2017-2019 Action Plan. The self-assessment process was coordinated by the Ikerbasque HRS4R Working Group, and each of the 40 principles of the C&C were revised and aligned with the reality of Ikerbasque, including the implementation of an OTM-R policy.
A new self-assessment was completed in 2017 with an external evaluation by independent experts of the European Commission and, as a result, Ikerbasque renewed the HR award until 2020.
In 2019, Ikerbasque confirmed its commitment with the Endorsement letter to the Charter and Code.
At the end of the 2017-2019 Action Plan, the results of the Plan were studied and, along with the gathering of other information received from many other inputs from all stakeholders of Ikerbasque, the HRS4R Working Group developed a Gap Analysis where all the 40 items of the C&C were analysed. Then, the HRS4R Working Group identified the key areas of improvement based on the gap analysis, and defined a series of actions to tackle them. These actions are collected in our Revised 2020-2022 Action Plan.
Related document: HR Strategy 2008-2020
OTM-R Open, Transparent and Merit-based Recruitment of Researchers
As member of the 2nd cohort of organisations involved in the development of HRS4R, we have analysed, assessed and integrated the recommendations and principles of OTM-R into our internal recruitment policies.
We have used the Report of the Working Group of the Steering Group of Human Resources Management on Open, Transparent and Merit-based Recruitment (OTM-R) of Researchers and the checklist for ensuring the completeness of our analysis and the corresponding policy definition.
In 2016 Ikerbasque implemented the OTM-R toolkit and recommendations by the European Commission. This was a smooth process and highlighted that Ikerbasque had been recruiting researchers based on Open, Transparent and Merit-based processes since it was created in 2007. Nonetheless, the systematic review of our recruitment instruments using the OTM-R checklist has allowed Ikerbasque to improve its internal analysis, leading to an improved “Talent Attraction” process and an OTM-R policy.
The result is the current Ikerbasque OTM-R Policy, dated March 2020.