Our statement on requests to take a public stance on specific issues relating to equality, diversity and inclusion

On occasion, the College is asked by individuals and/or other organisations to support a position on a particular equality issue. Here we set out the College’s general approach to such requests. At Imperial, we are committed to not only adhere to legal compliance with equality legislation but to go beyond it in order to foster a culture that values diversity, that strives to be inclusive, and that refuses to tolerate discrimination, bullying or harassment.

Imperial’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy, launched in October 2018, provides a framework for action and a pathway to integrate EDI considerations into all of our operations. This is overseen at College level by the People and Culture Committee and the EDI Forum. Through these groups, our approach to EDI matters is challenged and kept under review.

As an employer and educator, we have a duty of care to our staff and students. Our legal responsibilities with regard to tackling discrimination and harassment are largely determined by the Equality Act 2010, which identifies nine protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

As a university, the Equality Act 2010 also places on us the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED). Our PSED requires us to be rigorous and open minded about the need to eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation, to advance quality of opportunity, and to foster good relations between people with and without protected characteristics. 

In discharging this duty, we are determined to be proactive about seeking opportunities to raise awareness of the whole range of EDI issues that impact our community. We will be particularly attentive to under-represented groups, whose interests and perspectives may not be represented by senior decision-makers at Imperial. 

At the same time, we also take seriously our legal obligations to protect freedom of speech, which are set out in the Education Act, 1988 and the Human rights Act, 1998.

With our policies and commitments very clearly set out, the College’s position is that we will not routinely consider requests to adopt a public stance on specific issues relating to EDI issues. That said, whenever approached to publicly support a particular group or viewpoint, we will consider it as a chance to hear and learn from what may well be a minority perspective, and to review and possibly update our existing communications, policies or procedures. We believe this is a more constructive and effective approach to ensuring that our EDI work achieves maximum impact for our community. We know also that our actions will always speak louder than our words.