In the Department of Chemistry, we are committed to ensuring that our ethnic minority staff and students feel valued as part of our community and do not face barriers or discrimination of any form. We encourage all our staff to read and ensure they follow Imperial’s policy on racism.
In 2020, we partnered with the external organisation New Beings to carry out Focus Groups and One-to-One interviews with our ethnic minority students and staff. These groups and interviews were used to examine personal experiences of studying and working at Imperial and within the Department of Chemistry.
All participants felt they were treated differently as people of colour and there was a general perception that reporting of incidents does not lead to meaningful change. Several participants believe that the manner in which racism is dealt with is dependent on the person involved and academic esteem can protect individuals from any penalties.
In response to the recommended actions resulting from the focus groups and interviews we have committed to several Department level actions including:
- We will identify and train a team of anti-bullying advisors who will act outside of usual line management structures as a point of call for confidential discussions around racism, bullying and harassment.
- We will expand our EDI training provision for all our students and staff and require minimum levels of training by the end of 2022.
- We will improve the diversity of our speakers and Departmental events
- We will review our staff and student recruitment processes with consideration of applicant diversity
Progress on these actions will be reviewed annually and reported within internal Departmental communications and on these web pages.
As part of our membership of the Race Equality Charter, in 2019 and 2020, Imperial College also carried out similar College wide focus groups, with many parallels with our Department level study. The report from these focus groups is available online. In December 2020, Imperial As One commissioned two staff focus groups, the first focusing on Black staff members with the second open to members of Imperial As One. This report is now available to download from the IAO website. The College has also developed and collated resources and information to advise white staff and students on How To Be a White Ally.
We liaise with Imperial As One, an advisory group made up of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff. Imperial As One hold regular events throughout the year and during Black History Month, this includes the Belonging series of interviews exploring the BAME experience at Imperial.
Our Department has also received a generous endowment from Mrs Alice Hirst in memory of her husband Jack to create the Jack Hirst Scholarship to provide the opportunity for postgraduate students from Nigeria to spend a year in the Chemistry Department.