Logo reads Race Equality Charter memberIn January 2018 Imperial became a member of the Race Equality Charter (REC).

Run by Advance HE, REC aims to improve the representation, progression and success of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff and students within higher education. It launched in January 2016 and is similar to the Athena SWAN Charter.

REC provides a framework for universities to self-assess and identify institutional and cultural barriers for BAME staff and students. Member institutions develop initiatives and solutions for action as they apply for an award. We have a Self-Assessment Team (SAT) at Imperial leading on this work. 

Introduction to REC at Imperial

We launched REC at Imperial at our 2018 Black History Month Lecture, The Importance of diversity in STEM delivered by Chi Onwurah MP (Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM). Chi argued the importance of diversity as an economic imperative and focused on the need for systematic change. You can read more about Chi's lecture or watch the video of her lecture. 

More information about our SAT and its work is detailed below. If you would like to get involved or have questions, then please get in contact with Sally Parekh, Imperial's REC Coordinator, or Professor Stephen Curry, Assistant Provost (EDI).

Are you working on race equality?

Our SAT is eager to record the level of interest and/or expertise across the College in research related to race, racism, and/or race equality. The information gathered will be used to inform our REC work, and wider equality, diversity and inclusion activity taking place across the College. If you have anything to contribute, please contact REC Coordinator Sally Parekh.

REC SAT membership

Membership list

  • Stephen Curry - Co-Chair, Assistant Provost (EDI)
  • Anique Varleigh - Co-Chair, Head of Examinations & Assessment, Business School
  • Deborah Adegoke - Black & Minority Ethnic Officer, Imperial College Union
  • Annalisa Alexander - Head of Outreach, Student Recruitment and Outreach
  • Darren Alleyne - Service Transformation Manager, Information & Communication Technology
  • Rob Bell - Athena SWAN Coordinator, EDIC
  • Hugh Brady - Professor of Immunology, Department of Life Sciences
  • Paul Brown - Mechanical Instrumentation Workshop Manager, Department of Physics
  • Simone Buitendijk - Vice Provost (Education)
  • Judith Cherni - Research Fellow, Centre for Environmental Policy
  • Sarah Essilfie-Quaye - Project Manager in Research Strategy, Faculty of Medicine
  • Audrey Fraser - Head of Reward, Engagement and Policy, HR
  • Moonlie Fong-Whittaker - Learning and Development Programme Coordinator, Learning and Development Centre
  • Christopher Jackson - Professor of Basin Analysis, Department of Earth Science and Engineering
  • Kani Kamara - Head of EDIC
  • Susan Littleson - Deputy Director - Organisational Development and Inclusion, HR
  • Wayne Mitchell – Teaching Fellow, Department of Immunology and Inflammation
  • Onesmus Mwabonje - Research Associate, Centre for Environmental Policy
  • Sally Parekh - REC Coordinator, EDIC
  • Shervin Sabeghi - Imperial College Union Deputy President (Welfare)
  • Desmond Samuel - Co-chair, Imperial As One (staff network)
  • David Tyoember - Undergraduate student, Department of Chemistry
  • Angela Williams - Learning and Development Officer, Estates Division
  • Andrew Willson – Chaplain

Find out more about our SAT members

Deborah Adegoke

I'm Debbie, the appointed Black and Minority Ethnic Officer within the Liberation & Community Team at Imperial College Union. I act as an intermediary between the student body and the College Union. Having entered my second year at this university it’s an exciting privilege to participate in Union Council & REC meetings and offer input from both an ethnic minority and student perspective. I hope with my input and collaborate actions we can achieve real change to the ‘Imperial Experience’ for our staff and students; raising awareness about racial equality and allowing these conversations to happen freely within the College.

Annalisa Alexander

I have worked at Imperial since 2003 on Outreach and bringing students from a diverse background to the College. My team and I run a huge portfolio of STEM-based programmes from pupils of all ages on campus and in schools. We believe that every child and every teacher has the right to good STEM resources and role models and our programmes are designed to bring the curriculum in the sciences to life through hands-on sessions. Using our own undergraduate students as mentors.

Darren Alleyne

I am an IT professional and organisational change professional who has worked at Imperial College since 2008. I joined the REC to highlight and represent the views of non-academic BAME professional and technical staff, drive a cultural change and push for equality of opportunity for all. I believe that we can make a move Imperial to a place, where it is truly representative of the diverse multicultural city that it serves, at all levels of the organisation. The REC provides us with an opportunity to have an honest conversation about race equality at Imperial and implement actions and improvements based upon our findings.

Rob Bell

I started at the College as an intern working on Athena SWAN in 2010. Since then I have worked on numerous department-level applications and am now on my third College Athena application. I have seen Athena SWAN embed and develop across College, and recently have noticed more and more conversations about other aspects of EDI. I was pleased to be asked to join the REC SAT and hope the College uses REC as a positive opportunity to address structural and systematic inequalities. As a core element of the College EDI Strategy, I think REC is important to furthering work at Imperial and proactively tackling our issues.

Hugh Brady

Hugh is Professor of Immunology in the Department of Life Sciences and has been at Imperial College for 11 years. He also acts as Admissions Tutor for Life Sciences and in that role has sought to broaden and diversify the intake of undergraduate students. He is particularly interested in identifying and dismantling structural barriers to allow more Black British students to enter and prosper in Imperial’s world class educational environment.

Paul Brown

I am the Mechanical Instrumentation workshop Manager in the Department of Physics, and currently in my 30th year at Imperial College London. I am happy to have been invited by the Chair to join the REC SAT team. I am hoping that along with my colleagues, we can identify areas where we can improve Race Equality for BAME staff and students and begin implementing change to improve the experience of gaining access, studying and working at Imperial College. We still have a long way to go, when it still makes the news, that a black student has made it to Imperial. The goal is to be awarded the Race Equality Charter, and if we achieve this and we begin to see and feel the change at ICL, I will be delighted to have been a part of this work.

Simone Buitendijk

Simone is Vice-Provost (Education) and an expert in Maternal and Child Health. Professor Buitendijk is Chair of the League of European Research Universities’ (LERU) Learning and Teaching Policy Group. She was a member of the LERU Gender Steering Group, co-authoring the 2013 LERU position paper ‘'Women, research and universities: excellence without gender bias" and the 2015 LERU advice paper “Gendered Research and Innovation”. She is currently lead author on a LERU paper, “Equality, diversity and inclusion at universities: the power of a systemic approach”, to be published in September 2019.

Judith Cherni

Judith has worked at the Centre for Environmental Policy for 23 years undertaking research and part-time teaching. Becoming a member of and contributing to the REC SAT has been an exceptionally stimulating opportunity to both learn about BAME issues and revealing some of SAT’s members own experience of institutional barriers.

Her research on renewable technologies has progressed from studies of international development and environmental sustainability; these have expanded from a strong focus on Latin America to include all disadvantaged regions. While the core of this research is to promote equity and justice for the developing world, she realizes how crucial it is to also foster similar principles but for Imperial and other UK universities. Imperial has huge potential to become a real equal opportunities institution and cherish racial, national and cultural diversity in campus. The REC SAT represents a first, but important, step in this direction.

Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry is a Professor of Structural Biology at Imperial College, where he has worked for over 24 years. In 2017 he also became Imperial’s first Assistant Provost for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. This career-shift resulted from a desire to change the culture of science and universities, which was stimulated over a period of years through writing about academic life on his Reciprocal Space blog and at the Guardian, covering topics such as scholarly publishing, research assessment and science policy. An active campaigner, Stephen was a founder member of Science is Vital, and is currently chair of the steering group of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA).

Sarah Essilfie-Quaye

Sarah is currently a Project Manager in Research Strategy and the Project Director for the Faculty of Medicine Culture Initiatives Management Group. Sarah is also a Co-Chair for Imperial As One, the College's BAME Staff Network. She has been part of the Imperial community since 2002, starting as a Research Technician in the Asthma Lab, before progressing into a research career whilst also undertaking a part-time PhD.

After her PhD Sarah made the decision to step away from an academic career. “After a quick investigation I discovered there were no Black female academics at Imperial, I knew the path to Professor was a difficult one for anyone, but this made it feel almost impossible for me. I now regret that decision and wish instead I had felt I had enough support and encouragement to strive to be the first. This is the driving factor behind my involvement with REC SAT and Imperial As One. To create an environment at Imperial where everyone feels like they have the chance to make it to the top of their career, whatever their background.”

Moonlie Fong-Whittaker

I currently work as a Learning & Development Coordinator in the Learning and Development Centre. Before joining Imperial,  I worked as a Project Coordinator to tackle the BAME Attainment Gap at the University of Greenwich. It was part of the Office for Students catalyst-funded project in collaboration with Kingston, UCL, Wolverhampton, De Montfort and Hertfordshire. Also, I completed a MSc Education, Power and Social Change (2016-2018) at Birkbeck where my knowledge around ‘Chineseness’, race, ethnicity, diaspora and hybridity was solidified.  With this project, I hope I can apply both academic and professional knowledge to break down the barriers often faced by BAME  students and staff members.

Chris Jackson

I have been working at Imperial College for 16 years and have worked in a range of administrative, research and teaching positions within the Department of Earth Science & Engineering. I was very happy to join the REC Self-Assessment Team, as I saw it as the ideal opportunity to help other racial and ethnic minority staff and students, both inside and outside of Imperial College. By listening to the challenges this important body of our population face on a daily basis, we can dismantle the structural barriers that deliberately (or otherwise) hamper their engagement and progress. By ultimately including these people in the very fabric of Imperial College, we all benefit.

Kani Kamara

Hi I’m Kani. I’ve worked for the College in several roles. I started as an HR Advisor, became an HR Manager for the Faculty of Natural Sciences and then move into the EDI team as an EDI Manager. I am currently Head of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Centre. I’m really pleased to be part of the team and help to identify and self-reflect on institutional and cultural barriers standing in the way of minority ethnic staff and students.

Yani King

I’m Yani, a Co-Chair of Imperial As One (Imperial’s BAME Staff Work) and Projects Coordinator (Community & Transition) at the Students’ Union. In both my roles I create events and project that creates a sense of belonging at Imperial. I was happy to be asked to join the REC SAT team, as it was an opportunity for Imperial to stare at the racial issues in the face and take responsibility. I am excited to understand our community and the barriers that effect it. I hope with work of REC we can open up the conversations of race at Imperial and create a culture where the members of our community can be there true authentic self.

Susan Littleson

I am an experienced strategic HR and OD professional, with 29 years’ experience helping people and organisations improve and develop. EDI has been at the centre of everything, and I have made organisations fairer places for staff and customers, whether or not they have wanted it! My first degree was in Sociology, at Goldsmiths, where my year long electives were Race and Ethnicity, and Sex and Gender respectively. My dissertation was on the social construction of LGB identity.

I am on the REC to make Imperial a fairer place. I want evidence to be seen and understood by decision makers. I want people to be open to adapting policies and procedures to change outcomes. I want people to look at how they think and behave to others. I want Imperial to be a place where everyone really does have the best chance to achieve their potential, without unnecessary barriers. My partner and in laws are BAME, so I have close experience of barriers and discrimination.

Wayne A Mitchell

I’m Wayne, a Senior Teaching Fellow in Immunity and Inflammation. I’m also currently completing a MEd exploring the question, “What impact does being a ‘minority’ have on Black British student’s sense of identity, belonging and ability to achieve at Imperial College?” I have always had an interest in understanding the factors that promote effective learning, and how these influence a student’s ability to adapt to and transit through different learning environments. So, I’ve joined the REC-SAT to help to understand the impact that being a member of a minoritized groups at Imperial College has on their sense of belonging and identity as a BME students. What are the lived experiences of the students and what is being done and what more needs to be done to maximise all our students potential?

Onesmus Mwabonje

I am originally from Kenya and am currently working as a Research Fellow at the Centre for Environmental Policy (CEP). I joined CEP in March 2015 as a Research Assistant to work on a Climate KIC sponsored project code named “BioSuccInnovate”. This was after working for nearly 7 years in industry as a Business Consultant. Being part of the REC SAT does lend an opportunity to me to work as a part of a team to provide a voice that will create a sustainable impact on issues affecting BAME group at Imperial College London that require immediate attention and addressing.

Sally Parekh

I joined Imperial in 2018 and glad to be a part of the REC SAT. I am continually impressed by the dedication of our members who genuinely care about BAME issues and are determined to highlight the issues facing BAME staff and students and crucially have difficult conversations that lead to meaningful change. Imperial has a long way to go in achieving race equality and openly discussing race and racism but it has taken the first steps and I’m excited to see what we can achieve together.

Shervin Sabeghi

I'm Shervin and this is my 5th year at Imperial College - 4 years of a Physics MSci and now a year as Deputy President (Welfare) for the Student's Union. EDI is a key part of the remit of my role, which is what brought about my involvement with the REC to provide key student representation and involvement in the process. I'm very keen to see Imperial discover and unpick race related issues that certain groups of the community face, and it's exciting that the REC gives Imperial the push to do this.

Desmond Samuel

Is it Des or Desmond? Often one of the first questions I get asked meeting someone for the first time. I’ve worked at Imperial for 10 years. My current role is within the Faculty of Medicine. I work as its Head of Digital Communications Services. I’m into transformational thinking, innovative ideas and improving workplace culture. I’ve been part of values initiatives in local government and building communities at Imperial.

As a Co-Chair of Imperial As One, I’m developing my cultural competencies as a leader. As part of the wider EDI community, I’m developing my understanding of the perspectives of others.

The Self-Assessment process is an opportunity to ask questions and analyse the data. My goals are to help identify positive opportunities for change. And to support the College in meeting the aims and objectives of its EDI strategy. Is it Des or Desmond? I use both.

David Tyoember

David is a Chemistry Undergraduate at Imperial. Alongside his studies, David holds the position of President of the Imperial Investment Society and has established himself as an advocate for Diversity & Inclusivity having founded the representation initiative ‘Black Men in Finance’, the annual ‘Diversity in Finance’ event series within the Investment Society and Imperial’s Rap Society. In August 2019, David made national headlines after his campaign to secure work experience in Asset Management went viral on LinkedIn. His courageous efforts caught the attention of many organisations resulting in David securing an internship with Amundi, Europe’s largest Asset Manager, as a Credit Research Intern.

David is passionate about providing equitable opportunity for the BME community – he previously has held the position of BME Officer (in the 2018/19 academic year) and has been a member of Imperial College’s Race Equality Charter Self Assessment Team since November 2018.

Anique Varleigh

I have worked at Imperial College Business School for 6 years and have been fortunate enough to work on many College wide initiatives and projects. I feel honoured to have been asked to join the REC Self-Assessment Team. The REC members are all committed to making a difference and the most noticeable aspect of this is that people from the BAME have a voice and are being listened to. Personally, it has been humbling and a welcome to change, to sit in a room with people from a diverse ethnic background who all passionate about effecting change.

This feels like a golden opportunity to really make a difference to the BAME community not just for our existing students, faculty and members of staff at Imperial but beyond that to our future students and beyond the confines of Imperial.  Imperial are ready to lay themselves bear with where we are now and show how we are going to make a tangible difference (in the not too distant future) that will have a lasting legacy and set the foundations for future generations to come.

Angela Williams

I am an experienced Learning and Development professional with a background working in both the public and private sectors ranging from Local Government, Charities, Education and Hospitality, to name a few.  What has been common across these sectors and throughout my career is the lack of BAME staff at senior management level. I am passionate about learning and career development, and have supported individuals to reach their full potential and achieve their goals. 

I joined Imperial in 2016, as the Learning and Development Officer working in Estates Operations. I reviewed and implemented policies to remove any barriers to learning to ensure it was fair, open and transparent for all staff.  I welcomed the opportunity to be part of the REC Group and work with my colleagues to bring about much needed change at Imperial for staff, students and the community.

Andrew Willson

I am a Church of England priest and lead Chaplain at Imperial's Chaplaincy Multi-Faith Centre. I have listened to experiences of racism shared by people in local churches in London and the Midlands, and in different parts of the Higher Education sector. I can see that institutions and organisations that change slowly over time have great strengths for building community. They can also perpetuate injustices and discrimination. I have also seen in church and education settings that organisations can be great agents for positive change. I am grateful to be a part of the REC SAT working to improve race equality for students and staff at Imperial.

Updates from the REC SAT

November 2018

The first meeting of the Self-assessment Team (SAT) was held on Thursday 1st November. The group is determined to make a success of the job of exploring the issues facing Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff and students, understanding the facts and figures of our current situation, and making the best possible application for a Bronze REC award. 

The first component of the work to be done, the staff survey has now closed. A total of 1,353 people completed the survey which is a very good response – over 10% of staff. Thank you to everyone who took part.

The student survey will run from 12 November to 1 December, please do encourage students to take part.

Once the surveys are complete, we will begin to analyse the data. The SAT will discuss the initial findings at its next meeting in January.

If you would be interested in joining a working group or participating in a focus group to help advance the work of the SAT, please email Sally Parekh to register your interest. We will respond promptly to and do our best to involve you.

March 2019

The second meeting of the Self-Assessment Team (SAT) was held on Thursday 10 January. The final four members accepted to join the SAT so we now have 24 members in total.

Working groups based on the following categories have been set up; Students; Academic staff; Professional Services staff and Organisation Issues. They will begin to a deeper analysis of the data and will help to identify areas we will investigate further using focus groups and individual interviews.

We had a good response to the student survey with over 500 participating. We hope to publish a summary of the results from both the student and staff survey over the summer.

Thank you to those who have already registered your interest in joining a focus group. Please email Sally Parekh if you are interested in participating. We will respond promptly to and do our best to involve you.

May 2019

We welcomed Wayne Mitchell as a new member who has been at Imperial for 12 years and is interested in the academic achievement of students.

We invited Sarah Guerra, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at King's College London to talk about their race equality journey. She shared some candid insights and was generous with her advice on the potential pitfalls we might face.

July 2019

Organisational Development Consultant, Melanie Lee kindly agreed to design and run our first REC SAT Away Day off site in July. This gave us an excellent opportunity to bond as a team and allow us to fully reflect on the function and format of the SAT. This resulted in a report with several recommendations of how we could work more effectively as a team.

September 2019

Following recommendations from the Away Day, we appointed Anique Varleigh as the new Co-Chair.

Deborah Adegoke has been nominated the new BME Officer for the Imperial College Union and will join us as a member at the next meeting. David Tyoember kindly agreed to continue as a member.

Rob Tomkies and Bernie Babel have stepped down as members.

Finally, Deputy President (Welfare) Shervin Sabeghi joined us and represents the Imperial College Union.

Wayne Mitchell presented the findings of his report on the Experience of Black British students at Imperial. He highlighted the disadvantages faced by applicants and the statistics presented unequivocally revealed stark inequality.

January 2020

The SAT had a presentation on the undergraduate Differential Outcomes dashboard, which draws on data submitted to HESA and displays attainment by gender, disability and ethnicity. The dashboard shows data by department, faculty and programme level. It currently only shows one year’s worth of data. However, we would need to look at around several years of data and then take an average to get the most accurate data possible.

Annalisa Alexander announced the College has agreed a specific target to double the number of black students recruited over the next five years and is working on a number of projects to address this.

David Tyoember announced the ‘Bridging the Gap 2020’ event planned to take place in February by the Blueprint Project, an organisation set up by two Black Oxbridge graduates with the vision to form a graduate network providing support to students in years 7-13, showing first-hand the importance of Black community.

Stephen Curry announced the EDI Seed Fund had been a great success and awarded over £12,000 to successful projects. It will run it again next year. It was noted there was a large number of BAME focused applications.

March 2020

The SAT held its first online meeting held due to current COVID-19 situation.

Stephen Curry explained due to exceptional circumstances there will be adjustments and a reorganisation of our work. Timescales are likely to be affected, the deadline for submission of the REC application was originally going to be 23 July; given the scale of work still to do, we are now aiming to submit in January 2021, still within the three-year timescale demanded by our REC membership.

The Adam Rutherford talk on his latest book ‘How to argue with a racist’ was held on Tuesday 11 February and was attended by about 300 people. Rutherford waived his fee and the funds saved were used to purchase 30 books to give to attendees in a raffle, which was well received. 

Sarah Essilfie-Quaye reported a successful event aimed at widening participation for undergraduate BAME students who want to go on and do PhDs. Held on 11 March, it included panel events, presentations from PhD students and Q&A’s. It was organised by Madina Wane and Kirk Taylor (NHLI) with fudning from the EDI Seed Fund. 

Wayne Mitchell announced the early careers research BME conference originally planned to take place on 24th April has been postponed due to Covid 19. 

Stephen Curry thanked Kia Wnuk, HR Information and Insight Manager, who has developed an HR dashboard which has allowed us to start interrogating the data on staff demographics needed for our REC application. 

Going forward meetings will be held online, and the frequency has increased to once per month.

April 2020

Anique Varleigh welcomed a new member to the SAT, Moonlie Fong-Whittaker, Learning and Development Programme Co-ordinator.

Stephen Curry thanked Louise Hanger for her work on the admissions dashboard and Mark Jones in Registry for providing student data. He shared initial findings with the SAT.

Wayne Mitchell announced Imperial as One will hold a celebration event online to mark the 15th anniversary of Imperial as One. The network is also creating a series of video interviews titled ‘Belonging, which aims to create an archive of the experiences and aspirations of BAME people at Imperial. The interview series will capture a portfolio of past and present staff and students at the College.

May 2020

A short guide to ‘Supporting Black, Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) students during the COVID-19 crisis’ was shared with the group prior to publication. The 6-point guide summarises a document originally produced by Dr Gurnam Singh, Associate Professor of Equity of Attainment, Coventry University. It was designed to help academic and support staff understand and address challenges that may particularly affect BAME students.

The group now have access to the HR PowerBI dashboard including data on progression which looks at grade changes.

Work has also begun to show data on turnover for the last 5 years in categories, net changes and % changes; turnover by ethnicity will be analysed.

The Strategic Planning team are in the process of creating a dashboard on student admissions and student progression.

Moonlie Fong-Whittaker delivered a presentation on a previous project worked on at Greenwich University, focusing on the value-added (VA) methodology which effectively measures the BAME attainment gap. The VA score shows the % difference between BAME students who were expected to obtain a good degree and the % of those who were awarded.

Sarah Essilfie-Quaye shared the full report for the widening participation ‘Pathways to Research’ one day workshop for BAME undergraduate students at Imperial. This event was funded by the EDI Seed Fund.

June 2020

Stephen Curry reported there had been great feedback for the new White Allies page across the College and further afield. He noted there had been some pushback regarding the wording on the site. This has since been modified slightly to make it more inclusive (e.g. to acknowledge that people from other groups can also be allies).

A presentation was given by Jessie Alter, Digital Content and Social Media Manager, on how the Communications team had handled the messaging, particularly on social media, following the Black Lives Matter protests and what the team are doing to improve the communication of equality, diversity and inclusion work at the College. Martha Salhotra and Maxine Myers in Communications were also closely involved in this effort.

Judith Cherni presented initial draft actions from the SAT working group focusing on Academic Staff. Recommendations covered application forms, recruitment processes, promotion, counselling services for BAME staff and support offered to those affected by racism.