Imperial College London

College must “eliminate biases of all forms” - Imperial As One

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The Queen's Tower, with an autumnal tree in the foreground

Experiences of inclusion, diversity, racism, and the need for continued action against racial injustice, are highlighted in a new report.

The report, commissioned by Imperial As One, the College’s network for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff, provides a snapshot of the everyday racism experienced by many while making a series of recommendations to make Imperial a more inclusive, diverse and representative community.

This is an opportunity for the College and its leaders to deliver tangible actions. Building trust, transparency, and greater inclusivity to improve the working practices of the entire community. Des Samuel, Dr Sarah Essilfie-Quaye and Dr Wayne Mitchell Co-chairs, Imperial As One

The findings come from two focus groups, led in late 2020 by David Woodger, Head of Community Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London. 

Fourteen BAME and five white staff took part in the focus groups, set up to explore experiences of staff and student on race-related issues within the College. All had experienced or witnessed racism against BAME staff or students. 

The report, released today, highlights issues around: staff recruitment, retention and promotion; inclusivity and diversity; experiences of racial harassment and racist abuse; marginalisation of BAME staff; and taking responsibility on race and racism. 

Imperial As One’s co-chairs, Des Samuel, Dr Sarah Essilfie-Quaye and Dr Wayne Mitchell said in a joint statement: “This report is a ‘snapshot’ of just some of the lived experiences of our members. The fact that racism and microaggressions exist within the Imperial community cannot be denied. However, despite the bleakness of the findings, this is an opportunity for the College and its leaders to deliver tangible actions.  Building trust, transparency, and greater inclusivity to improve the working practices of the entire community.  Imperial As One are committed to challenging the inequalities highlighted in this report.” 

Professor Stephen Curry, Assistant Provost for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, said: “I am very grateful to Imperial As One for having undertaken this work. The report provides grim but essential testimony of the day-to-day experiences of our colleagues, and is a potent reminder of the importance and urgency of the work we are undertaking to address race inequalities at Imperial.”    

The Imperial As One report adds to testimony gathered by focus groups with staff and students as part of the preparation for the College’s Race Equality Charter (REC) mark application. This set of work included a report published last year, ‘Exploring race, racism and race equity at Imperial College London’ which draws on findings from interviews and focus groups held with staff and students in 2019 and 2020. The REC action plans will be submitted in July following discussion at Council, President’s and Provost’s Boards and the wider College community in the next few months. This will give a new focus and impetus to the College’s work to eliminate race inequalities at Imperial.  

Black Lives Matter

Last year Imperial announced a series of initiatives aimed at tackling current and historic racial injustice and much progress has been made. 

The College published its five-year Access and Participation Plan in 2019 which detailed commitments to increase the numbers of Black home students at Imperial.  

[The report] is a potent reminder of the importance and urgency of the work we are undertaking to address race inequalities at Imperial. Professor Stephen Curry Assistant Provost for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

The STEMM Futures Programme, one of the first initiatives rolled out as part of the plan, ran from November to December 2020. The four-part webinar series, aimed at young people of Black African and Black Caribbean heritage in years 7 to 13 attracted hundreds of attendees and gave them an opportunity to find out what studying STEMM subjects at Imperial is like, the steps needed to get to university, and the type of jobs this can lead to.  

Earlier this year Imperial became one of the first universities to join the Black British in STEM University Alliance, a non-profit organisation founded by Imperial alumnus Kayisha Payne (MSc Advanced Chemical Engineering) which aims to increase the representation of Black scientists in industry and in academia and inspire young Black people to pursue STEM subjects in university and beyond.  Through the membership, Black students at Imperial gain access to a community of individuals with similar experiences, resources to help growth and leadership, and access to employer-led insight days and events. Imperial also has a fully paid subscription to the BBSTEM Jobs and Opportunities Board which will allow the College to recruit more diverse talent.

Imperial has also announced a new scholarship fund to improve access and opportunity for Black students at Imperial. 

The History Group, established by the President and Provost, has undertaken a wide consultation of Imperial’s community to better understand Imperial's past, its links with the British Empire, and present understanding and reception of the College’s legacy and heritage in the context of its present-day mission. It is expected to deliver a final report by June 2021. The Imperial Artworks Group, working in parallel, is exploring ways that Imperial’s artworks can better represent the diversity of its community.  

Imperial ceased using its historic Latin motto in any new materials in order to better reflect the College’s culture, values and commitment to diversity.

Reporter

Deborah Evanson

Deborah Evanson
Communications and Public Affairs

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 3921
Email: d.evanson@imperial.ac.uk

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