Equality and Employment

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 do not have to give this information if you do not 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 UK Government's Equality Act 2010 webpages 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.

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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 owing to the health condition), that they may be 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. You can find out which employers have signed up to be a ‘Disability confident’ employer by checking the Gov.uk website which is regularly updated. 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 role.
  • 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/internship 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 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’. Book one of our Health/Disability careers discussions through CareerConnect These appointments can be arranged to be held via online, 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”, Making the Invisible Visible: Navigating the Recruitment Process' or ‘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 when we organise in -person Fairs. For MT 2021 fairs are held through an online platform. See CareerConnect for dates.


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.
  • Autism Forward – provide mentoring and funding  for adults on the autistic spectrum
  • Blind in Business – support blind and those with partial sight into employment

The law and trans employment rights

In England, Scotland and Wales, the Equality Act 2010 makes unlawful any direct or indirect discrimination, harassment or victimisation due to gender reassignment. (See ‘The Equality Act 2010).

Do you need to disclose that you are trans at work or during the recruitment?

No, there isn’t a legal obligation and you do not have to disclose your gender identity to be protected by the Equality Act 2010.

Do you need to disclose that you are trans at work or during the recruitment?

No, there isn’t a legal obligation and you do not have to disclose your gender identity to be protected by the Equality Act 2010. However, you may wish to discuss your gender identity, particularly if you plan to transition with your  employer so that they can support you,   but it remains a personal choice.

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

When seeking out   LGBT+ positive employers are, refer to Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index. Stonewall has long been a champion for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people and compiles the Workplace Equality Index, which scores employers according to ‘their progress on lesbian, gay, bi and trans inclusion in the workplace’ (note: not all employers are listed). They also encourage Stonewall Diversity Champion programme

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, for example, Treasurer of the LGBTQ+ Society.


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.

Statistics indicate show that ethnic minorities are well represented in areas of work such as medicine and science. However in some areas minorities remain under represented and there are several organisations that focus on trying to redress the imbalance.

14% identified as an ethnic minority in the 2011 census  UK population. With ethnic minorities set to account for more than half of the growth of the working age population over the next decade, employers are keen to target and recruit graduate talent from a diverse range of ethnic and social backgrounds and there are an increasing number of specific programmes specifically to attract BAME students run by recruiters.

Useful websites

  • Asian jobsite – recruitment site advertising vacancies in the public and private sector for ethnic minority students and graduates
  • Rare Recruitment – provide coaching support,  development programmes and internships, such as Advancing Black Leaders for those from a black heritage background
  • SEO/London – a not-for-profit organisation that provides internships in Law and Finance for ethnic minority students with many prestigious firms.
  • The Windsor Fellowship – provides leadership and development programmes and are partnered with many organisations, such as Civil Service, BBC and Google.

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