Our progress since 2012 - we have detailed Imperial’s provisions for researchers which have been achieved and embedded since our first Gap Analysis and Action Plan in 2012 under the HR Excellence in Research Award.


e-Recruitment System

Imperial undertook a review of the e-Recruitment System with the aim to implement new changes into the recruitment management process to ensure it is candidate-focused. In 2017 the new e-Recruitment System (Talent Link) was reviewed, with a new system and process developed and implemented. 

‘Talent Link’ continues to be improved to increase user satisfaction. The current applicant experience rating is 4.2 out of 5 stars from 2150 candidates.

The new Recruitment Hub is evidence of Imperial’s continual commitment to ensure consistency across the college in the approach of recruiting managers, to ensure they follow our various recruitment and selection policies and provide pro-active support and advice to any staff involved in recruitment and selection.  

Unconscious bias

Unconscious bias training was launched in 2013, with the aim that all decision-makers involved in recruitment are trained in unconscious bias.  So far nearly 1,000 decision-makers have been trained to date since the training was launched. 

Unconscious Bias is also covered in the College’s recruitment and selection online module and is explicit in our Decision Making module. Going forward, it will continue to be embedded in the development plans for all staff involved with the recruitment of researchers.

The training workshops provide a non-judgmental approach aimed at understanding how unconscious bias operates in the workplace. A ‘reminder’ about unconscious bias and use of language will become a standard part of all relevant HR documentation prior to key stages of HR processes.

Active Bystander

Active Bystander was a pilot programme established in 2016/2017 in the Faculty of Engineering, the programme aims to empower staff across our College community to challenge poor behaviours and bring about cultural change.

Active Bystanders reinforce messages defining the boundaries of unacceptable behaviour. Following the programme’s success, training is now being rolled out across the College.

Early Career Researcher (ECR) engagement at department level

ECR led change in departments through the PFDC Reps Network has progressed over the last 7 years, there are now 2-3 PFDC reps in each department, and further ECR committees within departments, who have been and are integral to the development and behavioural change within their own departments and changes to College practice.

Researcher engagement

To ensure all researcher levels are engaged with their departments, the PFDC established the PFDC Champions network to foster engagement and support for ECR from academic staff both within Departments, Faculty Level and College-wide. The PFDC Champions are appointed by the Head of Department and in consultation with the Head of the PFDC.

Sharing best practice across the HE sector

Imperial is committed to sharing best practice across the HE sector, below details some of the areas in which we do this:

Sharing best practice – overview

We are proud winners of the 2019 Universities HR Exceptional HR team of the year award.   Our submission covered a range of initiatives across all areas of HR practice.   Speaking on behalf of UHR, Helen Scott said: ‘This was a very high-quality award entry that would hold its own in awards beyond the HE sector.   The vision was so clear, well explained and positive, with lots of learning to share’.   Imperial HR will share our learning that led to this award at sector events throughout the year.  As award winners in the Organisational Development and Culture category last year, we were pleased to share details of our Active Bystander programme with other HEIs.

Sharing best practice – HR and Recruitment

We work collaboratively with other HEIs to share best practice including attending workshops with other HEIs, often hosted by external agencies to discuss hot topics and to share perspectives on the merits of different approaches and experiences around new innovations in the field.

Sharing best practice – ECRs

The PFDC receives requests for support from other HE institutes to establish Postdoc Development Centres. The PFDC visits other institutes and delivers talks, meet with Directors and share what has worked well at Imperial. The PFDC also hosts Researcher Developers from other institutes for them to shadow the PFDC team, meet Imperial Colleagues and ECRs. Institutes include – Queen’s University Belfast, Trinity College Dublin, NUI Galway, Cambridge University, University of Turin (Italy), A*STAR Singapore.

PFDC is currently part of the UK community of Researcher Developers via the SERD and Researchers 14 networks.

Sharing best practice – equality, diversity and inclusion

A member of Imperial’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Centre (EDIC) team acts as the Chair of the London West Athena SWAN regional network, sharing best practice. We recently hosted the Race Equality Charters member network and EDIC attends the Higher Education London Equality Network.

EDIC is approached from national and international universities with a request for visits to Imperial or for discussions about our EDI work and experience (including Athena SWAN). We have recently presented to the UCEA international conference on our approach to mental health support for staff and students.

Increased engagement and contribution to the different stages of ECRs careers

Since the 2012 Gap Analysis and Action Plan Imperial has increased its support and provisions across the researchers' career stages:

  • The Graduate School and PFDC develop training to support PGRs with postdoc applications
  • The PFDC and Careers Service provide provisions for ECRs (and PGRs) regardless of career destination – academic and careers outside academia
  • A dedicated programme for Fellows and Clinicians has been established (funded by the Faculties) to support ECRs progressing on the academic career path
  • The PFDC is now involved/sit on Fellowship and Lectureship interviews to provide expert advice

Continued best practice in Athena SWAN

Imperial was awarded Silver at institutional level in April 2016 (on the new post-May 2015 criteria, the first university to do so). Our award was valid to April 2020, but as per Advance HE’s policy given the ongoing review of the Athena SWAN Charter, our award has been extended to November 2020. Professor Stephen Curry, Assistant Provost (EDI), is forming a new Self-Assessment Team for the College and will be working with the College Athena SWAN Coordinator, Rob Bell, to prepare and draft our institutional Silver renewal for November 2020.

Progress since 2012 includes the development of ‘best practice recommendations for departments to continue and further Athena SWAN activity and applications’. This includes recommendations on the membership of committees; which should be representative of the whole department, with members from each student and staff community group and researchers.

Gender Pay and Progression

Imperial is committed to addressing the imbalance in gender pay by tackling barriers to progression by providing personalised development, rolling out unconscious bias training, and further developing our award-winning family-friendly initiatives.

We have published our gender pay gap information for the second time and provided a list of initiatives and projects which have been established.

Following the commissioned report to examine the issues of gender equality and institutional culture, published in December 2016 and reviewed by the Provost's Board in October 2017, the work has now evolved into the development of institutional values to support an inclusive culture. The actions from this report will be evaluated in 2018/2019 and implemented in 2019/2020.

Pilot programmes becoming standard practice based on PGR and ECR feedback

The variety and style of provisions delivered across the College have evolved significantly since 2012. With training being delivered face to face, via webinars, online courses and resources to meet the varied needs of researchers and to provide a flexible provision.

Based on the needs of the researchers' provisions have evolved, for example, previously a ‘Funders Day’ was held to host all funders and share the opportunities available to ECRs. The need and demand for these sessions have evolved to a Funder Showcase programme, with individual sessions from funders, supported by funder briefings delivered by PFDC staff. The Imperial College Research Fellows Programme (ICRF), now in its 12th cohort – has four funder briefings provided by PFDC to meet the demand of interest from internal applicants.

The Assistant Supervisor recognition for ECRs was established based on consultation with PGRs who highlighted the significant work ECRs contribute to the supervision of PhD students. The training developed to support the Assistant Supervisor recognition provides the option of completing the mandatory course online or in a face to face session, providing flexibility to ECRs schedules and geographical location.

New staff inductions

To ensure all new staff are welcomed and supported when arriving at Imperial, significant progress since the original action plan in 2012 has been the development of staff inductions:

Personal Review and Development Plan

The College is committed to creating a supportive, inclusive and highly motivated staff community across all disciplines, functions and activities. One of the ways we do this is through the annual Personal Review and Development Plan process (PRDP).

The PRDP forms, guidance and support have been under continual revision based on feedback from the researcher community. This has meant that the provisions to support researchers completing their PRDPs and line managers conducting PRDPs has grown in line with their needs. The provisions have evolved from face to face training sessions to a suite of support via email communication, online guidance, training and skills development. For example - tailored forms - a new postdoc specific PRDP form that reflects their fixed-term contract status and career stage and the conversations required with their line manager compared to academic staff on permanent contracts.

The President’s & Provost’s Awards for Excellence

The President’s & Provost’s Awards, nominated by staff and students, celebrate student and staff who have made vital contributions to the College. It includes recipients for Excellence In community and culture, research, education, and societal engagement. Researchers at all levels can be nominated for their research and wider contribution to the College, including a specific Award for Outstanding Early Career Researcher.

For 2019 the President's Awards for Outstanding Assistant Supervisor was introduced, celebrating the contribution ECRs make to PhD supervision.

The Awards are an annual celebration with new categories introduced as the work of the College evolves.