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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. Working effectively with diversity is an essential part of this. 

Our Equality Policy commits us to ensuring that there is no unjustified discrimination (1) in the recruitment, retention, training and development of staff on the basis of age, disability, gender including transgender, HIV/AIDS status, marital status including civil partnerships, pregnancy and maternity, political opinion, race/ethnicity, religion and belief, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, spent convictions, trade union activity or membership, work pattern, on the basis of having or not having dependants, or on any other grounds which are irrelevant to decision-making (2) .

Our Equality Policy takes account of relevant legal standards. We aim to abide by and promote equality legislation by following both the letter and the spirit of it in this area. We try to avoid unjustified discrimination which we recognise is a barrier to equality, diversity, inclusion and human rights. 

The British Council is committed to: 

  • understanding, valuing and working constructively with diversity to enable fair and full participation in our work and activities; 
  • ensuring that there is no unjustified discrimination in our recruitment, selection, performance management and other processes; 
  • ensuring action that promotes equality; this includes conducting equality screening and impact assessments of policies and functions and progressing diversity action plans; 
  • treating individuals with whom we work with fairness, dignity and respect; 
  • playing our part in removing barriers and redressing imbalances caused by inequality and unjustified discrimination. 

All staff are required to ensure their behaviour is consistent with this policy. We also require that clients, customers, partners and suppliers be made aware of this policy and operate within it. 

The British Council will review the policy at least every three years to help ensure it reflects good practice and new legal and regulatory developments.

(1) Some types of discrimination are based on characteristics about people they cannot control and so are classified as unlawful and unjustified. Generally, making a distinction between people for a range of reasons not related to their specific characteristics and protected by law is not unjustified discrimination. (2) Other irrelevant grounds could include, for example, language, accent, weight, tribe, caste, although these on their own may not attract legal protection.