Equality, diversity & inclusion strategy

St Catharine’s has made great strides in its recent history towards nurturing equality, diversity and inclusion – and has already modelled best practice in various aspects of College life – but has not clearly articulated its aims and ambitions until now. The College’s Governing Body asked the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Working Group to lead the development of this strategy, with a view to the College’s future EDI activities being delivered transparently, accountably and effectively.

As outlined later in this strategy, the College recognises that its overriding obligation is to ensure that it acts in accordance with its duties under the Equality Act 2010 and with all other relevant legal obligations.

In line with this position, the College supports the definition of equality developed in the Equalities Review published by the Government in 2007:

‘An equal society protects and promotes equal, real freedom and substantive opportunity to live in ways people value and would choose, so that everyone can flourish. An equal society recognises people’s needs, situations and goals and removes the barriers that limit what people can do and can be’ – Fairness and Freedom: The Final Report of the Equalities Review

Diversity requires us to take into account the differences between people and groups of people at St Catharine’s, to eliminate any unjustified detriment attached to our differences and to instead recognise the value of those differences to our community.

Inclusion means creating an environment where everyone feels welcome and valued.


We want St Catharine’s to be a diverse and vibrant community wholly committed to fostering an environment where everyone is able to thrive and feel a sense of belonging. We are committed to being an inclusive community with a culture that upholds excellence, diversity and equality of opportunity for all.


1. To continue to attract the most talented individuals from a diversity of backgrounds and identities and strive to ensure that everyone can thrive during their time at St Catharine’s taking into account the particular challenges different groups may encounter

2. To nurture a culture of ongoing learning about equality, diversity and inclusion with high-quality educational and evidenced-based training activities that attract participation across our community and make a measurable difference

3. To foster an environment in which everyone feels welcome and valued and to recognise the value of cultivating an equal, diverse and inclusive community in a fair, meaningful and sustainable way that ensures St Catharine’s will continue to thrive for generations to come

4. To ensure that our policies and processes for reporting any form of bullying, harassment or discrimination are regularly evaluated and updated as necessary, so that they are fit for purpose, robust and proportionate, and demonstrate our commitment to welfare and education

5. To use our voice wisely as a leading higher education institution to respond appropriately to emerging challenges to equality, diversity and inclusion that affect our community

Working with stakeholders across the College, the EDI Working Group will develop a series of plans to explain how the College as a whole intends to deliver against and
measure our progress towards each objective. Because meaningful change happens through the combined efforts of the whole community, it is the responsibility of all to achieve these strategic objectives. Action plans will include deadlines, opportunities for review, measurable standards of review and accountable personnel for each objective.

Guiding principles

In developing action plans in pursuit of the above objectives and in realising and reviewing these objectives in college life, the following principles should act as guidance:

Accountability: We will make sure all parts of our community understand their responsibilities at an individual level as well as an organisational level. The Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Working Group is accountable for its activities to Governing Body and will ensure there are identified owners for any activities.

Empowerment: In the implementation of this strategy, the College will need to allow for community engagement, training and support to provide opportunities for individuals to express themselves and contribute, and to actively seek to understand their lived experiences.

Connectivity: The College is connected to other groups and communities in the Collegiate University and external to Cambridge who are working towards similar goals, so we will seek out, learn from and share best practice.

Proactivity: The College recognises that equality, diversity and inclusion require intentional action and it will need to stay alert to emerging issues and make thoughtful decisions about what to stop, start and continue supporting to respond to these issues and realise its goals.

About our obligations

All of the College’s activities are motivated by our founding purpose, as set out in our Statutes, as a place of education, religion, learning and research.

St Catharine’s operates within established legal frameworks that set out certain obligations with regards to equality, diversity and inclusion and the freedom of speech, some of which are summarised below. This strategy reflects the current higher education landscape but the College will continuously review our obligations and respond as required.

Notably, for example, the College may not discriminate on the basis of a protected characteristic. These are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender Reassignment
  • Marriage and Civil Partnership
  • Pregnancy and Maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or Belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation

Although the College is not legally subject to the public sector equality duties under the Equality Act 2010, we nonetheless aspire to have regard to these same values in the work we do. This means we seek to give fair consideration and attention to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation; advance equality of opportunity; and foster good relations between people who share a characteristic and those who do not.

The College also recognises the importance, in implementing this strategy, of ensuring that it fulfils its obligations under other relevant UK legislation. In 2021, the College’s Governing Body endorsed the University of Cambridge’s Statement on Freedom of Speech and the College is committed to upholding this obligation in the delivery of this strategy.

About this strategy 

We want St Catharine’s to be a community where equality, diversity and inclusion are deeply embedded in College life. We would expect to retain this vision beyond the lifetime of any individual programme resulting from this strategy.

This strategy is intended to encourage the College community to focus our resources and time on priority areas of College life, and will be periodically reviewed to ensure relevance and that progress is being made towards achieving our objectives, not least because legal frameworks and best practice in this area could evolve and it will be important that this strategy is revised to keep pace.