Imperial College London

Imperial’s commitment to action recognised with Race Equality Charter award

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Three students writing

The College has been granted Bronze status by Advance HE’s Race Equality Charter.

The five-year award recognises Imperial’s work and commitment to improve the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students and address racial inequality.  

We have a long road ahead of us and a lot to learn, reflect on and change in order for our minoritised community to see and feel positive changes. Anique Varleigh Co-chair, Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment Team

The Race Equality Charter (REC) provides a framework for universities to self-assess and identify institutional and cultural barriers for minority ethnic staff and students. Member institutions develop initiatives and solutions for action as they apply for an award. There are currently 82 institutional REC members and 19 Bronze awards.   

The application for the Bronze award was a College-wide effort led by the Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment Team (REC SAT) co-chaired by Professor Stephen Curry, Assistant Provost (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion), and Anique Varleigh, Head of Examinations and Assessment at Imperial College Business School

Professor Curry said: “The work undertaken to get us to this point has been an important learning curve. But it’s our actions that will count. 

“We have taken many positive steps to foster a diverse and inclusive environment at Imperial, but this process has shown that there is still much to do. We will continue to listen to our community to improve the experiences of minority ethnic staff and students.” 

Imperial became a member of Advance HE’s REC in 2018. Since then, the College has worked towards the REC application, digesting and discussing student and staff data to address racial inequalities at Imperial.  

Anique Varleigh said: “Achieving Bronze status by the Race Equality Charter is a proud moment for the College and cements our collective commitment to make a meaningful difference to all members of our Imperial Community. 

“We have a long road ahead of us and a lot to learn, reflect on and change in order for our minoritised community to see and feel positive changes.” 

An extensive look at the College  

Following a wide consultation, the REC SAT was formed to include students, academic, professional, technical and operational staff from different grades and career points. 

Since November 2018, the REC SAT has met regularly to discuss the College’s efforts to improve racial inequality. 

The members took an extensive look at the demographics and experiences of the College’s minority ethnic staff and students through focus groups across the College and a survey, which received over 1,500 responses. 

Data was gathered and analysed on various areas of the College ranging from staff promotions, pay gaps, staff and student recruitment, student degree awards rates by ethnicity and student destinations after completing their degree.  

These processes highlighted concerns from staff and students including the lack of minority ethnic representation in leadership positions and across the student community, particularly Black academics and students, and a need for greater awareness of the issues of race and racism and the procedures for reporting and dealing with racial harassment.  

Staff also expressed a need for greater transparency around recruitment, promotion and appraisals. Students were concerned that there was not enough awareness about the mental wellbeing of minority ethnic students. 

Head of Imperial’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Centre, Kani Kamara said: “The REC SAT undertook the considerable task of understanding the range of views and experiences of staff and students on racial equality. These insights are valuable in telling us where we need to improve and the steps that now need to be taken to creating a better culture at Imperial.”   

Taking action  

After gathering the key findings from the REC SAT’s assessment, Imperial has now committed to addressing these issues through an Action Plan for the next five years. The Action Plan was developed in discussion with various parts of the College including, faculties, departments, the Provost’s and President’s boards and Imperial’s support services.    

The College will focus on making progress in three main areas:  

  • organisation and culture  
  • the staff pipeline and experience  
  • the student pipeline and experience  
Those voices are now looking for action and for the College to honour the commitments outlined in the plan and for all of us to do our part to build an inclusive culture at Imperial. Desmond Samuel Co-chair, Imperial As One

The Action Plan includes an annual review of all equality, diversity and inclusion related activities and commitments to improve recruitment and career progression of underrepresented staff.   

The College hopes to provide minority ethnic students with an improved experience through initiatives such as a cross-departmental mentoring scheme for PhD students and working with students to ensure that Imperial’s curriculum incorporates an awareness of the social and historical impacts of racism that have shaped STEM subjects.  

To address the concerns of minority ethnic staff, the College has committed to increasing representation on the College Council, increasing the ethnic diversity on appointment panels, and establishing a mentoring programme to prepare minority staff for senior roles.   

Desmond Samuel, co-chair of Imperial As One, the College’s staff network for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Staff said: “The brave, sometimes harrowing stories and experiences shared by staff and students at the College during the REC process have led to the publication of the REC Action Plan.  

“Those voices are now looking for action and for the College to honour the commitments outlined in the plan and for all of us to do our part to build an inclusive culture at Imperial.” 

Find out more about the College’s Race Equality Charter award.on our website, where you can view a summary of Imperial’s REC application and Action Plan.

Reporter

Nikita Rathod

Nikita Rathod
Communications Division

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