Equal opportunity and diversity

The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. Our work involves developing relationships with people from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures. Working effectively with diversity and promoting equality of opportunity is therefore an essential part of our work.

Find out about the work we are doing to eliminate discrimination and promote equality and respect for diversity, and how we build equal opportunity and diversity into our activities.

What do we mean by equality and diversity?

Equality

Equality of opportunity is about treating people fairly and without bias and about creating conditions in the workplace and wider society that encourage and value diversity and promote dignity. It is also about trying to redress past imbalances and ensuring that dealings with clients, customers and suppliers are conducted in a constructive way that supports appropriate inclusion and does not give rise to unjustified discrimination.

Diversity

Diversity is concerned with creating an inclusive environment and practices which benefit the organisation and those who work in and with it. It takes account of the fact that people differ from one another in many ways. Understanding, valuing and effectively managing these differences can result in greater participation that can be leveraged for success at an individual, team and organisational level.

When we talk about equal opportunity and diversity, we focus on seven main areas:

  • age
  • disability
  • race/ ethnicity
  • gender (which includes transgender)
  • religion/ belief and culture
  • sexual orientation
  • work-life balance.

Our approach to equal opportunity and diversity

We have developed a number of policies to promote equality and diversity and we use a range of tools to monitor and evaluate our progress in mainstreaming these. We believe the best way to manage equal opportunity and diversity is to ensure that they are built into all processes and functions, considered part of all policy decisions, and present in the planning of all programmes from start to finish. 

The policies and tools we have developed to help us reach our goals include:

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY POLICY

Our Equal Opportunity Policy commits us to ensuring that there is no unjustified discrimination in recruitment, retention, training and development of staff on the basis of gender, marital status, sexual identity, religion and belief, political opinion, ethnicity/ race, work pattern, age, disability or HIV/AIDS status, socio-economic background, spent convictions, trade union activity or membership, or on the basis of having or not having dependants. 

DIVERSITY STRATEGY

Our Diversity Strategy is underpinned by the belief that external relationships with clients, customers and partners throughout the world should reflect the standards and behaviours by which we manage diversity internally. The strategy corresponds with the UK Government’s own vision of inclusion and diversity where every individual is able to fulfil their potential and make their contribution to society.

DIVERSITY ASSESSMENT FRAMEWORK

The British Council’s Diversity Assessment Framework (DAF) is a tool which helps embed equality and diversity into our work. It encourages and guides our network of offices to develop good practice and report what they have achieved against a range of equal opportunities and diversity measures. 
The approach has attracted considerable interest from the public and private sector in the UK and around the world.

Our equal opportunity and diversity initiatives

Diversity week

Each year, in October, we organise Diversity week, an event at our library in Bucharest to celebrate diversity and create a favourable space for people with disabilities. 

In 2013 we organised a series of creative workshops for children with hearing and visual impairments assisted by Casa Ioana, Light into Europe foundation and from Jean Monnet high school allowing other people to meet and interact with them. 

By raising awareness about sensorial disabilities and the benefits that diversity brings we aim to create new opportunities for people with disabilities and generate a positive impact on society.

The event is run in partnership with Light into Europe foundation.

Free library memberships

Since 2010, the British Council libraries in Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca and Iasi offer free memberships to anyone with physical, mental or sensorial disabilities.