Imperial College London

Imperial’s diversity networks are looking for new co-chairs


The Queen’s Tower lit up in purple for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The Queen’s Tower lit up for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The College’s diversity networks are electing new co-chairs.

The College has three diversity networks – ABLE@Imperial, Imperial 600 and Imperial As One – that represent staff with disabilities, LGBTQ+ staff, and staff from minority ethnic communities.

Each network is led by two or more volunteer co-chairs. Their role is to represent the members of their networks, help develop College policy, and raise awareness of issues affecting members of their network. The networks are given guidance and support by two coordinators based at the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Centre (EDIC).

Over the next two months the three networks will be electing new co-chairs, as the current co-chairs are coming to the end of their terms. Any member of staff at Imperial can stand for election and no previous experience is required. If you are interested in becoming a co-chair you can find out how to nominate yourself on the EDIC elections pages. Nominations close on 10 February 2023.

We spoke to the current co-chairs of the three networks to find out why they volunteered to be co-chairs, what the role entails, and why they’d encourage staff members to stand for election.

Getting involved

There are many reasons to volunteer as a co-chair, but being able to get involved in community events was an important driver for the current co-chairs.

Aneesha Bhumber, Imperial 600 co-chair: “I joined Imperial during the pandemic. So when Imperial 600 had their first summer event, it was the first time after several months that I felt part of a community. It was wonderful. At every event since I’ve had the best time, meeting new colleagues who are now also my dear friends.

“I love to help organise events, so when Simon Levey asked if anyone in the organising group wanted to join him as co-chair, I went for it! Simon was super supportive from the jump, and I’ve been getting stuck in to the role ever since.”

Supporting your community

Being a co-chair is also an opportunity to work with the College to address issues facing the communities you represent, and a chance to take part in national events.

Dez Mendoza, ABLE co-chair: “Supporting and encouraging our ABLE members to build a disability community in College is really rewarding. When we share our lived experiences, we realise that we don’t have to go through our experiences alone; this enables our members to grow in confidence and advocate for themselves and others.”

Lisa Phillips, ABLE co-chair: “I am proud of the roadshow presentations held with faculty and departments, which seem to have grown by word of mouth. The College leadership questions and answers session on disabilities matters was also very well received and attended by over 100 staff.”

Members of Imperial 600 at the Christmas party
Simon Levey (centre, front) and Aneesha Bhumber (centre, back row) at the Imperial 600 Christmas party

Simon Levey, co-chair Imperial 600: “In 2022, we decided that Imperial 600 would attend UK Black Pride and Trans Pride Festival with our colleagues. Despite each being marginalised groups, racism is as common in the LGBTQ+ community as it is in wider society, and queer-phobia, particularly transphobia, is on the rise in all parts of the UK. It was so great to come together under the Imperial banner to show that we stand together against hatred and discrimination, while celebrating our differences and similarities.”

Personal growth

Volunteering as a co-chair can be an opportunity for personal growth, and a chance to make contacts from across the College.

Desmond Samuel, co-chair Imperial As One: “My self-confidence has improved, along with recognition of my skills and abilities. I have an expanded awareness of the College’s management at many levels, and my network of contacts has broadened. I am better able to use different styles of leadership to match the context, and I have also been able to create opportunities for others to take on leadership roles. There are also practical skills like using Lean and Agile, managing projects, influencing policy and bidding for funding.”

Imperial As One co-Chairs with their President's Medals for Excellence in Culture and Community
Imperial As One co-chairs with their President's Medals for Excellence in Culture and Community (left to right: Dr Wayne Mitchell, Dr Sarah Essilfie-Quaye and Desmond Samuel)

Wayne Mitchell, co-chair of Imperial As One has some advice for potential co-chairs: “You need to be approachable, be yourself. Know what you want to bring to the role and be open to hear the views of those you’re working with. The role isn’t about me, it’s about us, and what we can do together.”

You can read the full interviews on the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion web pages for more on what the role entails and how the current co-chairs managed the demands of the role with their day jobs.


Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson
Communications Division

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