Equality and diversity in recruitment and selection

What diversity means

Equality of opportunity can seem quite a complex area and recruiters and employers can often look at it from a defensive, legal compliance position.

Diversity takes a wider and more positive outlook. There is still a need to ensure discrimination and stereotyping play no part in the recruitment and selection process. But as important is valuing differences between people and understanding the positive benefits for the University of employing a diverse range of talented people.  

A positive approach to diversity allows you to select the best person for the job based on merit alone and free from bias on the grounds of factors such as age, disability, gender or race that are not relevant to the persons ability to do the job.

Employers that take this approach are more likely to be seen as a fair, positive and progressive place to work by the diverse society that they are part of. This philosophy underpins the University's Equality and Diversity policy.

"Everyone is different and unless employers take diversity seriously they will fail to recruit, retain and engage the commitment of the talent needed to sustain and improve performance" (Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development)

The legal angle does need to be taken seriously though as there are an increasing number of specific areas of discrimination covered by legislation. Decisions that fall foul of the law can be costly for the University in terms of bad publicity and financial penalties but also time-consuming and stressful for the individuals involved, and that could be you!

You don't need to be an expert on all aspects of anti-discrimination legislation and case-law but you do need to understand:

Avoiding discrimination and adopting a positive approach to diversity

Following the principles and practices outlined in the University's Guidance on the Recruitment and Selection Process will help you to put this into practice. You will also find it useful to consider the information on the general legal position outlined below and some specific and practical actions to avoid discrimination and adopt a positive approach to diversity.  

(Back to top)

The general legal position

Some key facts

Direct discrimination

Definition: Less favourable treatment of a person compared with another person because of a protected characteristic.  The new definition of direct discrimination extends protection based on association and perception, already applicable to race, sexual orientation and religion or belief, to include age, disability, gender reassignment, sex and pregnancy and maternity.


Indirect discrimination

Definition: Occurs when a provision, criterion or practice is neutral on the face of it, but its impact particularly disadvantages people with a protected characteristic, unless the person applying the provision can justify it as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.  Indirect discrimination applies to all of the protected characteristics, apart from pregnancy and maternity.


Positive action not positive discrimination

The legislation encourages employers to take positive action to ensure they can recruit and retain people from under-represented groups as long as this does not mean less favourable treatment for other people. For instance:

But positive discrimination, treating those from under-represented groups more favourably to the exclusion of others is not lawful.

(Back to top)

Other relevant legislation

Asylum and Nationality Act 2006

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

The University has a policy and procedure on employing people with criminal records and DBS checks.

European Human Rights Convention

Encompasses all of the above within its wide remit.

There are several other pieces of legislation that make it unlawful to treat different kinds of workers unfavourably to others in a number of areas relating to employment, including:

Maternity and Paternal Leave Regulations 1999

Part-time Workers (Prevention of less favourable treatment) Regulations 2000

Fixed Term Workers Regulations 2002