Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Staff Network

BME Staff Network logo

Welcome to the University's Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Staff Network. We welcome all individuals who work for the University, a College or an associated institution who identify as BME.

About us

The BME Staff Network is an initiative that was originally developed from the findings of a staff survey that was carried out by the Race Equality Advisory Group (REAG) in 2006. As a result of the Survey and other work undertaken by the E&D section, the BME Staff Network was launched in 2009.

The BME Staff Network works closely with Professor Ian White, one of the University's Equality Champions.

How can I join?

Steering Group

The steering group has five members from each of the different staff groups at the University and includes a Chair and a Secretary. Each member is elected and serves a two-year term.

If you would like to know more about the work of the Steering Group, please contact the University's E&D Consultant for BME staff at

For support and advice, you can email a member of the Steering Group. All enquiries will be treated confidentially.

Members 2011–13

Terry Ndee, Acting Chair

Terry is an Associate Director, Trusts and Foundations at the University's Development Office. He has worked at the University since 2001 and was a member of the University's Race Equality Action Group (REAG) and is a member of the Management Board for the Centre for African Studies.


Oksana Gerasimova, Secretary of the Steering Group

Oksana is an Administrator at the Centre for Personal and Professional Development.


Yvonne Bent-Elliott

Yvonne is the Equality & Diversity Events Co-ordinator


Rajashree Dhanaraj

Rajashree works in the Faculty of Divinity.


What do we do?

Alongside the University's other Diversity Networks the BME Staff Network provides information and support to staff, assists with the co-ordination of diversity events and helps the University to progress equality by:

  • Providing a regular forum for discussing diversity issues at work or study.
  • Providing networking opportunities.
  • Raising issues in a safe environment.
  • Contributing to policy development and implementation.
  • Participating in policy consultation, such as the University's Equality Assurance Assessment.
  • Organising social events.
  • Arranging events to raise awareness and celebrate diversity, such as Black and Minority Ethnic History Season, Holocaust Memorial Day and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month..
  • Contributing to staff development activities..
  • Developing links with local BME communities.

Buddying and Mentoring

The Network has also recently set-up an informal buddying and mentoring initiative which aims to support any Black and Minority Ethnic staff member who is either new to Cambridge or simply wants a buddy. The scheme is co-ordinated by Oksana Gerasimova. If you would like to volunteer as a Buddy or Mentor email

Advice, help and support

Advice: Your Rights Are Protected in Law

The University of Cambridge is committed in its pursuit of academic excellence to equality of opportunity and to a pro-active and inclusive approach to equality, which supports and encourages all under-represented groups, promotes an inclusive culture, and values diversity (p151 Statutes and Ordinances).

This means that the University will make every effort to foster a study and work environment that is free of unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation for Black and Minority Ethnic people.

The University provides support to staff through the:


Members of staff who believe that they have been discriminated against on grounds of disability may make a complaint via the University's:

  • Grievance procedures in connection with their terms and conditions of employment.
  • Dignity@Work Policy.


Working with the E&D team, the BME Staff Network provides formal representation and support at talks and lectures focussed on the BME community during the academic year including [insert an event]. It is also a partner in the annual BME History Season programme for Cambridgeshire, which includes the University's BME History Month Lecture. Speakers at this have been Diane Abbott MP and Trevor Hall CBE. The 2010 speaker is Dr Shihan de Silva and the talk will be held on 27th October at Selwyn College.

Resources and training

Cambridge & Diversity Project

The Cambridge & Diversity Project celebrates and explores eight hundred years of history by discovering the stories of its current, and past, staff and students at the University. Profiled individuals include Alison Hennegan, Pav Akhtar and Sir Derek Jacobi.

Springboard and Navigator

The University provides two gender specific personal development programmes for staff and post-graduate students:

Both programmes are designed to encourage participants to fully identify opportunities for personal and professional development and to develop plans to realise them.

Navigator and Springboard may particularly appeal to Black and Minority Ethnic staff who are interested in exploring their individual needs, developing confidence and assertiveness techniques, and engaging with ideas for self-empowerment.

Recruitment for the 2010/11 programmes has started and you can sign up through the CPPD course list.

Centre for Personal and Professional Development

The University's Centre for Personal and Professional Development facilitates learning opportunities for all university staff enabling them to achieve their potential and contribute to the provision of excellent teaching and research in the University.