Equality, diversity and inclusion
The Faculty of Natural Sciences (FoNS) at Imperial College London creates world-changing impact through its science. We realise that this can only be delivered by creating and nurturing an inclusive and respectful community. We believe that the health and well-being of our students and staff will be enhanced by developing a culture where everybody is valued, and that bullying and discriminatory behaviour have no place in modern society.
FoNS is committed to identifying and addressing structures and practices that maintain inequality and supporting members of our community encountering the barriers that discrimination presents. We partner with others at the College committed to taking positive action to improve the opportunities and experiences of all members of our community.
The Faculty EDI Committee is comprised of representatives from all departments, the Faculty Management Committee, the Faculty EDI Champion and the Faculty EDI coordinator. We work together to realise our EDI strategy and train students and staff on awareness and robust interventions. Our EDI strategy is aligned with the Imperial College London EDI Strategy and values. Guided by this, we are working towards a more equitable and congenial future for both science and society.
Strategic support and leadership
The Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy Group at Imperial is chaired by the Provost on behalf of the College council and is responsible for providing leadership and strategic direction in relation to EDI matters affecting staff and students. In August 2017, the role of Assistant Provost (EDI) was created to direct the College's EDI strategy, and this post is currently held by Professor Stephen Curry, Professor of Structural Biology within the Faculty of Natural Sciences.
The College created its first EDI Strategy in October 2018 to bring focus and coherence to Imperial's equality, diversity and inclusion approaches. The EDI Strategy Group is supported by the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Forum (EDIF), whose members are drawn from across the College community and include staff and students. The Forum serves as a listening post to capture and discuss all manner of EDI issues, and produce proposals for action that can be presented to the EDI Strategy Group.
The College is supported by the EDI Centre, made up of staff members from across the College. The Centre advises, supports and provides training for teams and departments at Imperial and reports to HR Deputy Director (Organisational Development and Inclusion).
Imperial was a founding member of the Athena Swan charter in 2005, achieving a Bronze institutional award in 2009, followed by Silver in 2012 which was successfully renewed in 2022. The Athena Committee was established in 2013 to champion and oversee the advancement of gender equality at the institutional level. Working under the directorship of the Assistant Provost (EDI), it ensures that changes are made to practice and culture to enable departments to gain, or retain, Athena SWAN awards, increasing the award level where possible.
The Disability Action Committee (DAC) was formed in 2010 to oversee and disability equality for staff and students, as recommended by the EDI Strategy Group. In addition, the DAC considers ways to improve accessibility throughout the College. This includes the support of the ABLE network, set up to support staff with disabilities. The Calibre Programme has been developed as a leadership development programme for disabled staff. The College is also a Disability Confident Leader.
Imperial signed the pledge in 2014 to demonstrate our commitment to ending discrimination and breaking silence around mental health issues. In 2018, Imperial signed the Charter for Employers who are positive about Mental Health, one element of the Mindful Employer initiative.
Networks and programmes
Imperial As One was launched in 2005 as an advisory group of minority ethnic staff to advise the College on the support and promotion of an inclusive workplace culture. IMPACT (Imperial Positive About Cultural Talent) is a talent development programme for BAME staff, which was named as a finalist at the Race Equality Awards 2016. In 2018, Imperial became a member of the Race Equality Charter, achieving a Bronze institutional award in 2021.
Imperial 600 was established in 2006 to support LGBT staff, while Imperial College Union's IQ network provides confidential support to LGBTQ+ students, and act as gateway to existing College and union services. Imperial is part of Stonewall's Diversity Champions Programme, through which Stonewall works with organisations and employers to ensure LGBT staff are accepted without exception in the workplace.
All new staff arriving at Imperial are introduced to Imperial Expectations - seven statements describing the College's behavioural principles for all staff, designed to promote a positive working environment, including EDI requirements. Imperial offers equality training on many topics, including: Harassment and Bullying, Disability, Mental Health, Unconscious Bias, and being an effective Active Bystander.
The College also have an Access and Participation plan for student recruitment aiming to widen participation through a series of outreach programmes, and targeted deployment of initiatives for students from disadvantaged groups.
Imperial is also committed to progressive policies that enhance inclusion, including:
- Staff Supporters;
- grants for carers to attend conferences;
- family and personal leave in addition to annual leave, including study leave and emergency family leave, part-time and flexible working opportunities;
- and award-winning family-friendly initiatives.
Imperial College London is one of the first Universities in the UK to implement and start using Textio, an augmented writing service designed to identify language which has a gender bias. This is now used by the Recruitment Hub to review and write job advertisements in line with the College's commitment to EDI.
EDI in the Faculty of Natural Sciences
The Faculty of Natural Sciences is located across three campuses, and comprises six departments and institutes: Chemistry, Life Sciences, Mathematics, Physics, the Centre for Environmental Policy, and the Grantham Institute. Each department and institute has an EDI committee.
The Faculty has focused on promoting a number of training initiatives to staff including:
This training aims to empower staff across the community to challenge poor behaviours and bring about cultural change. Active Bystanders reinforce messages defining the boundaries of unacceptable behaviour. This was initially offered to staff across the Faculty, and is now also being rolled out to students.
Bullying and Harassment
This training aims to define and recognise bullying behaviour and looked at the misuse of power and how to identify and manage this.
Tackling unconscious bias
This aims to provide an understanding of how unconscious bias operates in the workplace, and how to identify, manage and challenge these biases.
The Faculty has been running training with MIND, the mental health charity, since 2017, and has offered training sessions on Managing Mental Health in the Workplace, aimed at those who manage staff, and a bespoke course on Managing your own Mental Health, aimed at both staff and postgraduate students to support their own mental health and wellbeing.
Health and wellbeing
There has also been a focus on the promotion of health and wellbeing among staff members, which has included a dedicated health and wellbeing website signposting staff to relevant resources, a postcard which was sent to all staff within the Faculty alongside a letter from the Dean, and the "Have Your Say" campaign, which has allowed staff and students to report poor or unwanted behaviour, bullying and discrimination.
In 2018, the Faculty set up a which allows staff from across the Faculty to work with another individual or team for up to two days to obtain an insight into how other areas of the Faculty work.
Support for female staff
The Faculty Ambassadors to Academic Women organise and collaborate on annual events and activities for women in the Faculty. This initiative is designed to place greater emphasis on support to female staff, leading to greater retention.
Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion in our departments in the menu below.
EDI across the Faculty
Department of Chemistry
Find out about equality, diversity and inclusion in the Department of Chemistry.
Department of Life Sciences
The Department of Life Sciences has held a Bronze Athena SWAN award since 2011, and this was renewed in both 2015 and 2019.
The Department has sought to promote academic and social cohesion within the Department through a number of activities including monthly newsletters, know your pool, social events within family friendly hours, stimulating a training and development culture, giving strong support for parental leave and family life, and an overhaul of induction and promotion processes.
The Department's Academic Opportunities Committee provides advice and guidance to ensure that, in addition to disseminating university-wide policies, the Department actively works to address challenges to gender equality that are particular to Life Sciences and takes action based on identified issues. The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee (EDIC) includes both staff and student representatives and aims to broaden the Department's commitment to EDI across all protected characteristics. The Postdoc Committee focuses on fostering an inclusive community and enhancing career development for postdoctoral staff.
The Department hosts an annual International Women's Day Lecturer series, inviting high profile female scientists and speakers to address staff and students across the College. The Department has also recently introduced an online suggestion box to allow anyone to make suggestions and raise issues relating to gender balance, diversity and inclusion.
Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion in the Department of Life Sciences.
Department of Mathematics
The Department of Mathematics was awarded a Bronze Athena SWAN award in 2012, which was renewed in 2016, and is aiming to apply for Silver award in April 2020.
The Department has introduced several policies, including the 'Support for Staff with Caring Responsibilities, Protected Characteristics, Ill Health, or Returning for Periods of Leave' policy, and underwriting the undergraduate and MSc Women's Scholarship funded in part by Marjorie McDermott. In addition, all seminars, colloquia, workshops, and conferences that receive funding from or are hosted by the Department must have a published diversity policy.
The Department encourages all staff to attend the active bystander and bullying & harassment courses, as well as a range workshops around teaching, learning and pastoral care, LGBTQ+ inclusive personal tutoring and teaching, resilience and wellbeing, and suicide prevention. All staff in the Department have been required to register for a unconscious bias training course in 2019-20.
The Department have also introduced a number of programmes aiming to improve the career pipeline for women in maths, including:
- Undergraduate and MSc Women's Scholarship funded in part by Marjorie McDermott, which aims to increasing the number of women in MSc programmes.
- The Mary Lister McCammon Summer Research Fellowship provides research experience for undergraduate/postgraduate female students, and aims to increase the number of women on PhD programmes.
- The Cecilia Tanner Fund provides research funds for academic staff, and is named for one of the first female Lecturers in the Department.
The mA*ths programme provides online tailored online support for students preparing for Maths and Further Maths A-level exams, and includes online mentoring and face-to-face masterclasses at Imperial. The in-person support is targeted at widening participation (WP) students with the goal of increasing the number of WP students among undergraduates within the Department.
Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion in the Department of Mathematics.
Department of Physics
The Department of Physics established the Juno Transparency and Opportunity Committee in 2007 to implement the Institute of Physics' Juno Code of practice, which aims to support best practice for all staff and students with particular attention to putting in place practical actions to address the under representation of women in university physics, and promote Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
The Department's Committee is also guided by the Athena Swan Charter. The Department was awarded Juno Championship status and an Athena SWAN Silver award in 2009, which was renewed in 2012 and 2018.
The Department of Physics has driven and implemented a number of activities and approaches to supporting diversity and inclusion within the Department including: working to improve intake diversity, address attainment and retention gap, introducing women in physics events, introducing a workload model to ensure work is shared fairly across the Department, setting up networking for female researchers, promotion of flexible working, department wide training programmes for equality-related issues, and the introduction of an undergraduate student hosted LGBTQ+ week within the Department. The Department of Physics also actively support a number of societies including Women in Physics and the Society for Women & Non-Binary Individuals in Physics and supports events hosted by the LGBTQ+ society.
Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion in the Department of Physics.
Centre for Environmental Policy
The Centre for Environmental Policy was awarded a Bronze Athena SWAN award in 2019. Recent work from the Department includes profiling female members of staff online and improving flexible working opportunities for those juggling parenting responsibilities. In preparation for this application, the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee was re-established in May 2017, and both staff and PhD students were given the opportunity to join the Committee.
The Director of the Centre is one of the College's six specially trained Sexual Violence Liaison Officers, and one of the Centre's postgraduates has set up a network among female postgraduates which is also reaching out to female researchers and undergraduates.
The Centre has established a workload model to ensure the equitable allocation of tasks regardless of staff 'protected characteristics', ensuring that staff are not overburdened with teaching or administrative responsibilities.
Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion in the Centre for Environmental Policy.
The Grantham Institute aspires for equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) to be core values of our community of staff, students, affiliates and stakeholders. We aim to consider EDI in every decision made whilst we work to achieve our Institute’s ultimate vision: inspiring and enabling people to create a zero-carbon, climate-resilient world.
We aim for the Grantham Institute to be a welcoming, accessible and inclusive environment for everyone. We work to achieve this by ensuring the Institute considers the diverse perspectives and lived experiences of our community relating to climate change, including vulnerable and underprivileged populations. We share and learn from others at Imperial College London and other research and higher education institutes. This is an ongoing journey that is supported by an Institute-wide commitment to EDI. Important first steps have been made; many still must follow.
The Grantham Institute has set up an equality and diversity working group, with members from research, education, communications and operations within the Institute. The group aims to develop, review and implement EDI strategies and initiatives within the Institute. Some examples of Institute EDI activity includes:
- The Institute has a very active student committee, who run a regular Women in STEM seminar series
- The Institute offers an annual EDI Scholarship on its NERC funded DTP programme
- The research team are developing a framework for EDI assessment of research questions and activities
- The Innovation team run a ‘Women in Cleantech’ programme for the GLA as part of our climate innovation work: Our Women in Cleantech work | London City Hall
- The Grantham Communications team has focussed on presenting diverse groups of people and voices in all of our external communications work including our website, Outlook magazine, press engagements etc.
- The Institute are participating in the College’s annual ‘Year 12 Work experience programme’ which is designed to give students an insight into life as a researcher and other careers in higher education, and prioritises students from low socio-economic backgrounds, and schools in the local communities we support.
Find out more about EDI at the Grantham Institute here: Community and culture | Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment | Imperial College London