Equality and diversity officers encourage values of equality and diversity to develop within their organisation - most often a local authority, trade union or educational institution, but increasingly within the private sector. They ensure that, within the areas of training, employment, and promotion or provision of services, no employee or client suffers direct or indirect discrimination on the grounds of gender, gender identity, age, race, religion, belief, disability, sexual orientation or marital status.
Duties may include:
Equality and diversity officers usually work standard hours, Monday to Friday, with occasional evening work.
Most of the work is carried out within the office. There may be some travel to meetings with occasional overnight stays at conferences. A driving licence may be useful.
Starting salaries may be from around £18,000 a year. Experienced equality and diversity officers may earn up to £40,000 and senior officers or managers may earn £60,000 or more, especially in London.
Employers of full-time equality and diversity officers include:
- Local Authorities
- Central Government Departments
- Trade Unions
- Universities and Colleges
There are also opportunities with other large employers, such as the police and armed forces, NHS trusts, financial institutions and chain stores, as well as within the voluntary sector.
Smaller workplaces often incorporate the equality and diversity role within the job role of a human resources officer. Some delegate this responsibility to a named staff member or committee of staff members.
The number of equality and diversity officers has grown in recent years. Jobs may be advertised in local newspapers, The Guardian (Wednesday, public sector section), and specialist magazines like Disability Now. Some councils produce jobs bulletins, which are available from council offices, libraries, local community centres and Jobcentre Plus offices.
Useful websites for vacancies include:
There are no set academic requirements to become an equality and diversity officer. Most have already worked in a personnel or human resources environment and gained some knowledge of equality and diversity policies and legislation.
Most employers require applicants for human resources work at assistant or administrative level to have at least five GCSE's (A*-C) or equivalent. A degree, foundation degree or Higher National Diploma (HND) is usually required to start at officer level.
Sheffield Hallam University offers a BA Honours degree in education and disability studies. Also relevant, and widely available, are degrees and HND's in human resource management and in business (human resources management).
Entry to degree courses is usually with at least two A levels and five GCSE's (A*-C), or equivalent qualifications. Entry to foundation degrees and HND's is usually with at least one A level, or equivalent qualifications.
An advanced diploma in a subject such as society, health and development may be accepted for entry to degree, foundation degree and HND courses.
Applicants who have relevant skills and experience may be accepted onto courses without the usual academic entry requirements. Candidates should check prospectuses carefully, as the content of courses and entry requirements can vary considerably.
HND and foundation degree courses usually last two years full time. Honours degree courses usually take three years full time or four years for courses that include a year's practical work placement.
There are part-time and full-time postgraduate courses in the specialist field of equality and diversity. Such qualifications can be helpful when applying for senior positions.
Newly appointed officers without experience of working with equality and diversity policies and legislation may work towards:
- NCFE Level 2 Certificate in equality and diversity
- NCFE Level 3 Certificate in managing diversity
Officers may study for a postgraduate qualification such as those listed above.
Equality and diversity officers must keep up with changes in equality and diversity law and policies and with relevant case law, so continuing professional development (CPD) is important. This may include attending conferences, reading journals and attending courses. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, for example, offers short courses in discrimination law. There are also specialist private providers offering training courses customised to the needs of particular employers.
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An equality and diversity officer should be:
Some larger organisations offer the chance for an equality and diversity officer to progress to equality and diversity manager. In other cases, career development may mean moving into another job within the broad field of human resources.
There are also openings from time to time within the specialist organisations set up to monitor and eliminate discrimination, for example in the field of community relations. Consultancy work is another possibility for those with a lot of experience.
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD),
151 The Broadway, London SW19 1JQ
Tel: 020 8612 6200
Equality and Human Rights Commission,
3 More London, Riverside Tooley Street,
London SE1 2RG
Tel: 020 3117 0235
The Institute of Equality and Diversity Practitioners,
Venture House, 6 Silver Court, Welwyn Garden City,
Hertfordshire AL7 1 TF
Tel: 0844 4827 263
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.