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Equality & Employment | The Careers Service Equality & Employment – Oxford University Careers Service
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The Equality Act

The Equality Act (2010) protects you against discrimination based on certain characteristics, including age, gender, disability, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or beliefs, and sexual orientation.

It is not unlawful for an employer to collect information on race, ethnicity and other protected characteristics when recruiting new staff. Many organisations choose to do so in order to monitor the effectiveness of their equal opportunities policy. However, you don’t have to give this information if you don’t want to. Employers are under a duty not to treat you differently because of your age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, race, religion or belief, or marriage.

See the Equality Act website for further information on your rights, what areas are covered by the act and what action you can take if you feel you have been unfairly discriminated against.


To tell or not to tell – if, when and how

A frequently-asked question in the Careers Service is whether to tell a prospective employer about a disability or a health condition.  This is often called ‘disclosure’ or being ‘open’ about your specific circumstances.

Many students fear that if they tell a recruiter about a disability or health condition (or having taken time-out of studies due to that health condition), they may get pre-judged – and that the information may eclipse their abilities.

Making a decision to disclose a disability or not is a personal choice, and there are various points in the application and selection process that you may choose to mention your disability or health condition. Hence, the if, when and how to tell a recruiter.

Reasons you may wish to disclose

  • Employment is covered by The Equality Act (2010): Disability. The Act states that is it against the law for employers to discriminate against you because of a disability and covers a broad range of areas including application forms, interview arrangements, aptitude tests and pay.
  • Many employers are keen to employ disabled people. Look out for the ‘ Disability Confident‘ employer symbol on job advertisements, awarded by the JobCentre Plus. This means the employer has made some commitment to employing disabled people, such as guaranteeing a job interview for disabled applicants if they meet the minimum job criteria. This scheme has replaced the ‘two ticks guaranteed interview scheme’  and has different levels that employers can apply for. See the Government website for more information.
  • You are able to describe your disability in a positive way; you will be able to take a relevant opportunity to describe your disability positively, for example when talking about overcoming a particular challenge.
  • If you disclose, employers can get help and advice on adaptations to the workplace for a disabled applicant or employee from the Disability Employment Adviser (DEA) at the JobCentre Plus. Funding is also available through such programmes as the Access to Work Scheme.
  • You may feel the need to explain aspects of your CV, such as a gap in your education or lower exam grades than your peers – if these are a consequence of how you have had to manage your disability/health condition. These are mitigating circumstances.

Reasons you may wish not to disclose:

  • You may feel that your disability may have little or no impact on your ability to do the job.
  • You may feel that it will give the employer the chance to label you by your disability, and thus not recognise your abilities.

Alongside disclosing a disability, consideration needs to be given as to at what point in the application process to do so: on the application form/CV, at interview, before an assessment centre, when a job offer is made or when employed. Adjustments may be helpful to a disabled applicant at any of these stages. If the employer does not know that you have a disability, then they are not able to make adjustments that may assist you.

Getting advice

It is a good idea to think through the reasons  for and against disclosing from your perspective before making a decision. There are a number of useful resources that you can access, such as Great with Disability and AGCAS Diversity Matters that  may help you, but having the opportunity to talk your circumstances through with a Careers Adviser can help you to decide what is ‘right for you’. Contact the Careers Service Reception to speak with one of our disability Careers Advisers – Annie Dutton and  Damilola Odimayo – to arrange a “long discussion”. These appointments can be arranged to be held via Skype, phone or in your college, depending on your access needs.

You may also want to come to one of our termly sessions on “The If, How and When of Disclosure” or the pre-entry sessions held before Careers Fairs titled ‘Engaging with Recruiters as  a Disabled Student’. These sessions are an opportunity to find out how you can assess how disability friendly or aware a recruiter actually is to help you decide whether you want to apply to them. There will also be opportunity to access a number of Careers Fairs before the main start time of the Fair. See CareerConnect for dates.

Further sources of advice and resources

A  number of independent organisations and charities exist to help people with a disability access the right job for them. Some notable ones include:

  • AGCAS diversity matters series – Specialist advice from the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services on key diversity issues including gender, race and disability. Use this resource to identify diversity positive employers, understand disclosure and get an understanding of your rights.
  • MyPlus Students Club–  website for students with disabilities or long-term health conditions. It provides these students with information  to prepare for graduate job applications and the recruitment process.
  • EmployAbility – Advice for disabled people on careers, employment and legislation. Links to relevant sources for advice and support.
  • Disability Rights UK – Aims to strengthen the voice of disabled people and provides a huge amount of practical information on accessing resources.
  • The Equality & Human Rights Commission – Have a statutory remit to protect, enforce and promote equality. Their website contains lots of advice and guidance.
  • Association of Disabled Professionals – For professionals, entrepreneurs, students and the self-employed. Can be accessed via audio/no graphics/large text versions.
  • Disabled Entrepreneurs – Aims to inspire and support disabled people to become successful entrepreneurs.

Many companies have comprehensive policies which detail their commitment to equality. Larger employers often have LGBTQ staff groups, such as our own here at Oxford University, and many have LGBTQ recruitment events to encourage applications. These are likely to be advertised via CareerConnect and  OULGBTQ Soc

It is up to you how much you choose to say about your personal life on your CV or in an interview, so you might like to consider the advantages of detailing your responsibilities as, say, Treasurer of the LGBTQ Society, against any possible disadvantages.

Remember that the legal situation may be different in other countries, and so research legislation in the country that you wish to work in. You may wish to discuss your particular situation with a careers adviser.

Politics and faith

There is no problem with having strongly-held political or religious views as long as they don’t hinder your ability to do the job.

Some people worry about referencing interests in their applications which they perceive might ‘put employers off’. Extreme political or religious views can fall into that category. Think carefully about how you might phrase such interests, and certainly avoid any suggestion that your views might make you a difficult person with whom to work. The skills you have gained in a position of responsibility in a religious or political student society may be more important to an employer than any disagreement with your personal views.

Obviously though, your views may be an asset to certain organisations. As a Liberal Democrat, your application to work as a Research Assistant for a Lib Dem MP would undoubtedly be strengthened by your politics, and applications to a religious charity might be aided if you practised that religion.

This information was last updated on 12 September 2017.
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Recent blogs about Equality & Employment

Literary Agency Work Experience – Carole Blake Open Doors Project

Posted on behalf of Blake Friedmann. Blogged by Polly Metcalfe on April 20, 2018.

The Carole Blake Open Doors Project, is a programme specifically aimed at encouraging candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds to enter the publishing industry.

The Carole Blake Open Doors Project will offer ten days of work shadowing at Blake Friedmann’s book agents to a selected applicant over a two-week period, including funding for travel and up to twelve nights’ accommodation in London. The programme, which will run twice a year, will include close mentorship with Blake Friedmann’s book agents, the opportunity to attend selected meetings with editors and clients, and the chance to be involved in every aspect of day-to-day life as an agent. It is intended that candidates will come away from the project with varied knowledge of working for a leading literary agency, the beginnings of new and essential relationships in the publishing industry, and some excellent experience to include on their CVs.

“Carole offered me my first internship in publishing at Blake Friedman. She was a formidable figure, yet warm and funny. She was deeply encouraging to me as one from a diverse background based on my age, class and race – though it was our mutual love of a great pair of shoes that really sealed the deal!  An unforgettable, truly phenomenal woman.” – Valerie Brandes, Founder & Publisher, Jacaranda Books, and former BFA intern

Carole Blake and the Blake Friedmann team have always placed great value on diversity and openness, in the company’s client list as well as its hiring practices. We aim to build on this foundation and be proactive about drawing from a wider pool of talented applicants who are passionate about books and ambitious about getting a job in publishing.

Read an account of taking part in the project from our first Open Doors intern Ada Igwebu. 

Applications are now open for the Carole Blake Open Doors project and the deadline is 18 May.

Springboard for Female Undergraduates and Masters students Hilary 2018

Blogged by Annie Dutton on February 7, 2018.

Make the most of your opportunities at university and beyond, boost your confidence, and reach your aspirations – with the Springboard Programme.

  • When: 7 March (Launch event); 12, 13, 14 March (Workshops 1-3); 18 April (Workshop 4)
  • Where: the Careers Service
  • Book: via CareerConnect – The deadline for applications for the Springboard programme is Monday 26 February 2018

Based on the award-winning Springboard Programme for professional women, the course aims to ensure female students (including those who identify as female) are equipped for their career after graduation but also provide them with tools to enhance their personal development in all aspects of life.

Recent participants have said:

“I feel like my outlook on life has been lifted onto a completely different level. Whenever I think back to the programme when I face difficulties, I feel more able to approach the difficulties and remember how positive I felt in the three days, and that how I felt about my life was under my control.”  – Participant, Hilary Term 2017

“The holistic approach allows you to grow and have the tools and confidence to improve in all aspects of life, and because it’s not just about studying or careers I will carry these skills with me for years to come” – Participant, Hilary Term 2016

Springboard has had a sizeable impact on me since I completed it in 2016. I think back to many of the programme’s key messages and to the insights I had during the workshops on a weekly, if not daily, basis. I also walked away with a community of amazing Oxford women who have grown to be an important long-term support network of friends and inspiring young professionals“. – Participant, MT 2016

If you have any questions about the programme please contact us:

The Springboard programme is generously sponsored by  Shell, Citi and LEK Consulting

Law Society Diversity Access Scheme: Open for Applications Now

Blogged by Annie Dutton on January 30, 2018.

Applications for The Law Society’s Diversity Access Scheme (DAS) opens on Monday 5 February and will close on Sunday 8 April 2018.

The scholarship provides:

  • Funding for up to the full cost of LPC fees (starting in 2018)
  • A professional mentor
  • Work experience brokered through the Law Society

Over 200 students have received this award and comments include:

‘The Diversity Access scheme has not only provided me with an LPC scholarship but has given me the confidence of knowing that the Law Society supports my hope of becoming a solicitor – something that cannot be measured in monetary value’.

To find out more and to apply go to the Law Society Diversity Access Scheme

Connecting disabled students with recruiters at our careers fairs

Posted on behalf of Annie Dutton. Blogged by Annie Dutton on October 11, 2017.

The Careers Service is running a number of bespoke sessions for disabled students titled ‘Engaging with organisations as a Disabled Student’  before most of our Careers Fairs running in Michaelmas Term. These sessions are for any student who identifies themselves as having a disability, specific learning difficulty, or any mental or physical health condition, which they feel may impact on how recruiters or educational providers view them. At these sessions you’ll learn how to assess how disability-friendly an organisation is, how your circumstances may affect working with them, and how sharing (or not sharing) your circumstances may affect the recruitment process.

There will be lots of opportunity for you to ask questions in this confidential setting.  It may be of particular interest to you if you have had to ‘suspend their studies’ at some point, owing to health reasons, and want to know how your application may be viewed. It is open to all students whatever year of study.

If you attend this workshop you’ll also be able to access the fairs before the official start time and meet with recruiters before it gets busy. Recruiters attending the fairs are aware that there will be some students keen to talk with them about their circumstances prior to the start of the fair away from the crowds.

If you are someone who meets the criteria for taking part, please do book your place on CareerConnect, or contact Careers Service Reception for more information on or  01865 274646.

Booking is essential. If we can put adjustments in place for you to access any of our events, please contact the Careers Service Reception in advance to discuss your needs.

These sessions are being held at:

  • Oxford Careers Fair 14/10/17 @ 13.30 in Exam Schools, Oxford
  • Finance Fair 17/10/17 @ 13.30 in Oxford Town Hall
  • Careers in Computing 24/10/17 @ 14.00 in Robert Hooke Building
  • Arts, Media & Marketing Fair 26/10/17 @ 13.30 in  Careers Service, 56 Banbury Road
  • Internship Fair 1/11/17 @ 13.30 in Oxford Town Hall
  • Law Fair 4/11/17 @ 10.00 in Exam Schools, Oxford

Goldman Sachs Trader Academy for Women

Posted on behalf of Goldman Sachs. Blogged by Polly Metcalfe on June 27, 2017.

Start paving your way to a career in trading with the Goldman Sachs Trader Academy. If you are analytically-minded and interested in learning more about trading, we encourage you to apply to our programme, available to women graduating in 2019. Through a combination of experiential learning, work shadowing and mentorship you will develop your existing strengths, learn from our professionals and build confidence, providing the ideal launch pad for a career in the financial markets.

  • 8 month training academy, aimed at equipping you for a career in trading
  • 3 onsite training days at our offices in London
  • Distance learning via mentoring from traders and access to online resources
  • Career advice and preparation for summer internship interviews

If you would like to apply to attend, please visit the Goldman Sachs events portal.

The application deadline is 2 July 2017.

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