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Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Know your rights when job seeking, and find out about equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Equality and diversity in the workplace

The Equality Act 2010 is the UK legislation that covers equality and diversity in the workplace. It consolidates previous separate legislation into one act. This is to make the law easier to understand and encourage employers to comply.

The Equality Act lists nine 'protected characteristics'. This means employment discrimination is usually against the law. Employers must therefore treat applicants and employees equally.

The protected characteristics are:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage or civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race (including colour, nationality, ethnic and national origin)
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

Many employers are going beyond legal requirements and promote a diverse workplace.

The following resources offer inspiration, information, and advice in relation to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). They help you know your rights about job seeking and equality in the workplace. They also tell you what to do if you have experienced discrimination.

Finding a diversity friendly employer

If you are looking for an opportunity, here are our tips on finding diversity friendly employers:

  • research an employer's diversity and inclusion policies. Many employers have published these on their websites. They can give you a good insight into the employer's commitment to diversity and equality
  • employer events and fairs can be a way of finding out if they recruit from diverse backgrounds. Ask about their diversity and inclusion policies
  • talk to people who work for the employer. They can give you an insider's perspective on the company culture and how employees are treated
  • use LinkedIn or Glassdoor to gauge the diversity and work culture of a workplace
  • trust your instincts. If you have a gut feeling that an employer is not diversity friendly, question why. There are many great employers out there. Don't settle for one that doesn't make you feel comfortable


The Equality Act 2010 made age discrimination, harassment, or victimisation unlawful.

Usually, unless they can prove that there is a legitimate reason, employers cannot set an age limit for jobs. They can say that a graduate scheme is only suitable for those who graduated within the last few years. This means they can set a date range for eligibility. They can't discriminate against mature students. If you've graduated within the number of years they've stated, you are still eligible to apply.

You do not have to put your age or date of birth on your CV and most employers no longer ask for it on application forms. Employers should treat you equally, regardless of age, during the application process. This also applies to you as an employee.

If you are entering the employment market as a mature graduate you have legal protection. In fact, your experience can be an asset during the recruitment process.

Disability, neurodiversity, and mental health

The Equality Act 2010 protects disabled applicants against discrimination during the recruitment process. It also makes disability discrimination unlawful in employment.

The Equality Act covers physical disabilities and mental health conditions. It also includes long term health conditions, specific learning difficulties and neurodiverse conditions.

This entitles you to reasonable adjustments in the recruitment process. Reasonable adjustments reduce or remove obstacles for disabled in the recruitment process. They also apply to the workplace.

You do not have to have a formal diagnosis to ask for a reasonable adjustment. You also don't have to share details of your disability if you prefer not to.

Get free expert advice on reasonable adjustments via our Next Generation Inclusive University partnership with EmployAbility.

See more about EmployAbility and what they offer above.

You can discuss asking for reasonable adjustments with a careers consultant.


Discrimination, harassment, or victimisation because of a person’s sex is unlawful. The Equality Act 2010 covers this and applies to both females and males.

Gender reassignment or sexual orientation are in a separate section of the act, under LGBTQ+.

There are a few exceptions where the sex of the candidate is an occupational requirement. This would be in the job specification.


Employers cannot lawfully discriminate against anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+. It’s your decision if you want to share your sexual orientation to an employer. The Equality Act 2010 means if you do want to share your sexual orientation, you are legally protected.

An employer can't discriminate if you have the protected characteristic of gender reassignment. A wide range of people identify as trans. The Equality Act protects you if you have proposed, started, or completed a process to change your sex.

This applies during the application process as well as when you are in the workplace.

Race and ethnicity

The Equality Act 2010 made it illegal for an employer to discriminate because of race or ethnicity. The Act protects you from direct or indirect discrimination and from harassment or victimisation based on your race.

More information

Religion and belief

It is not lawful for an employer to discriminate against you because of your religion or belief. This is due to the Equality Act 2010.

The law protects not only those who have a recognised religion. It also covers beliefs like agnosticism, atheism, pacifism, veganism, and humanism.

Social mobility

Social mobility is the link between a person's income and occupation and that of their parents.

Socio-economic inclusion helps people to get on through their own talents and skills. It’s about making sure that people can use their talents and efforts to succeed. It ensures they aren’t held back by invisible barriers. The same career opportunities should be open to you if you come from a lower income household. It applies if you were the first in your family to attend university and/or in receipt of a means tested grant.

Social mobility is becoming high on the agenda for graduate recruiters. Many employers are now choosing to record the social background of applicants. They want a more diverse workforce and the benefits that brings.