We recognise that we need to do more to change our recruitment practices to ensure that we can bring in more diverse talent to our Department at all stages, from undergraduate students to professors, to our professional and technical teams.
When we advertised for lectureships in 2015, we put together a Search Committee to proactively encourage female applicants. We also gave personal feedback to all unsuccessful female applicants and offered mentoring to those we considered to have exceptional future potential. One of those who took up this offer secured a prestigious EPSRC Fellowship to join us in 2018, whilst another took up a lectureship elsewhere at Imperial. This work was highlighted as a “beacon activity” by the Institute of Physics.
We have made changes to our undergraduate admission processes to improve the socio-economic diversity of our student intake.
All undergraduate applications are treated on a truly individual basis. During the interview shortlisting process, all applications are read in detail (including personal statement and reference). We always take into account, disadvantages or disruption to education and mitigating circumstances, as detailed in the application or provided separately.
After interview, all this information is considered alongside detailed interview feedback, to give us as comprehensive an overview for each applicant as possible. This allows a much fairer and more robust offer making decision process, and we are able to make a variety of offers based on individual circumstances.
We have modified our postgraduate student recruitment processes to make them fairer for applicants to both our CDTs in Next Generation Synthesis and Reaction Technology and Chemical Biology, as well as our internal Departmental scholarship processes. Both our CDTs anonymise applications prior to shortlisting to reduce possible bias.
Our Department scholarship process has been changed to include a specific section where applicants can detail their achievements outside of research and describe any barriers they may have overcome. This aims to ensure that our ranking process is not a measure of access to opportunity which can disadvantage those who have not been able to undertake summer placements, for example.
Black British in STEM
As a Department, we campaigned for the College to partner with Black British in STEM (BBSTEM) and we are delighted that in 2021, Imperial became one of the first universities to join the BBSTEM University Alliance. Imperial also has a subscription to the BBSTEM Jobs and Opportunities Board which will allow us to advertise opportunities available in Chemistry to a more diverse talent pool.