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Equality and employment

If you belong to a group of people who have experienced prejudice or discrimination when looking for work, your job search may be more challenging. The Solent Futures team are committed to equality of opportunity and supporting all students to succeed.

If you would like to talk to someone in Solent Futures about any of the issues detailed below, please email us at solent.futures@solent.ac.uk.

We have developed a range of resources containing advice, top tips and useful web links. These cover the most common equality issues. We also advise you to do your own research if you think you have an issue that may affect your job search.

Vacancies added to the Solent Futures Online jobs board must comply with our vacancy policy.

Disability discrimination

You do not have any legal obligation to tell a potential employer if you have a disability unless you want to. It is your personal choice as detailed in the Equality Act 2010.

When making this decision you should consider whether your disability potentially raises a health and safety issue. An example of this is if you have epilepsy and may experience a seizure at work. Another factor in this decision is whether or not you require any adjustments to enable you to undertake your day-to-day work or even to attend the interview.

Top tips

  • Always present your disability in a way that will show you in a positive light. 
  • Emphasise how your disability may have enhanced your skills and abilities in some areas.
  • Employers want enthusiastic and positive employees, so concentrate on achievement and skill.
  • Look for disability-positive employers, but consider all opportunities on their merits.
  • Market yourself positively by familiarising yourself with the job description and person specification.
  • Only discuss your disability in terms of its relevance to your performance in the job.
  • Don't assume the employer will have a negative attitude - your experiences and skills may give you the edge over other candidates.  
  • Does the employer offer any ‘positive action’ initiatives aimed at students with disabilities?
  • Work shadowing can be a useful way to research the work environment. 

Researching employers

Many employers are employing applicants with disabilities and health conditions, and are striving for greater diversity in the workplace. Good employers recognise that there are advantages to recruiting a diverse workforce.

Some employers offer schemes specifically aimed at students and graduates with disabilities or long-term health conditions. Others offer opportunities for all, but as well as mainstream recruitment sites, they also advertise through specialist sites such as EmployAbility (see link below). 

Look at the employer's diversity policy on their website. Check to see if they are a member of the Business Disability Forum. Look for the 'two ticks', Mindful Employer and Business Disability Forum icons on an employer's website.

The DisabilityConfident logo is the most commonly used on job adverts and application forms. The DisabilityConfident scheme supports employers to make the most of the talents disabled people can bring to their workplace. The logo demonstrates an employer is particularly positive about employing and retaining disabled staff.

The Mindful Employer charter demonstrates an employer's commitment to being positive about mental health. The logo "shows an employer is supportive of conditions such as anxiety and depression".

Example wording for a cover letter

Employment schemes to support students with disabilities

For those studying computer science, computer engineering, informatics, or a closely related technical field: Google Europe scholarship for students with disabilities.

For aspiring software engineers: Bloomberg Graduate/Entry Programme - Software Engineer

Change 100: Internship programme which brings together the UK’s top employers and talented disabled students. The Law Society offers work experience in law for people with disabilities.

Useful links

Target Jobs – Within their careers advice section, they have information related to equality and diversity.

Prospects – Provide careers advice and job and course opportunities to students and graduates. This includes an example of a cover letter disclosing a disability.

Business Disability Forum - A not-for-profit member organisation that makes it easier and more rewarding to do business with and employ disabled people.

Vercida.com – This site only displays jobs from employers who understand the value of building a diverse workforce.

EmployAbility - Not-for-profit organisation dedicated to assisting students and graduates with all disabilities, including dyslexia or long-term health conditions, into employment.

MyPLUS Students' Club – Provides a wealth of information, advice and case studies as well as job adverts from a range of major organisations. 

Race equality and discrimination

Many employers recognise that certain groups are underrepresented in their work force and are taking positive action to rectify this situation.

According to the Equality Act 2010 you must not be discriminated against because of your race. This refers to a group of people defined by their race, colour and nationality (including citizenship), ethnic or national origins. On adverts or in information the abbreviation of BME or BAME is often used. This stands for Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic.

But how can you identify these employers and what steps can you take to positively market yourself? Read these tips to find out more.

  • Research any employers thoroughly before applying. Take a look at the equality and diversity policy on their website.
  • Does the employer offer any ‘positive action’ initiatives aimed at students from BAME backgrounds?
  • Be open-minded. Keep a positive attitude and be prepared to have your stereotypes challenged.
  • Work shadowing can be a useful way to research the work environment. By seeing the organisation for yourself, you can tell whether there really is a diverse workforce.
  • Keep your CV up to date. If you are happy to, don’t forget to mention anything you have done that will provide transferable skills, such as teaching at a local mosque or organising events to promote equality.
  • If you speak other languages, be sure to emphasise these on your CV, particularly if you're applying to a global company as this will definitely be to your advantage.
  • Employers want enthusiastic and positive employees, so concentrate on achievements and skills.

 

Examples of racial diversity schemes

House of Commons Internship Programme – In partnership with the Windsor Fellowship

The Taylor Bennett Foundation - Work-based PR training programme

Greenpeace internships – Opportunities in partnership with the Windsor Fellowship

Useful links

Creative Access - Provide opportunities for paid internships in the creative industries for young people of graduate (or equivalent standard) from under-represented BAME backgrounds.

Diversity Jobsite - Diversity Jobsite helps employers find the highest quality job-seekers from within the ethnic and minority populations of the UK, and showcase the full range of opportunities that exist for job-seekers within companies that are equal opportunity employers.

Ethnic Jobsite – Ethnic Jobsite offers recruitment advertisers a variety of ways to target the right candidates and address exclusion, bridging the gap between employers and ethnic minorities in the UK.

Target Jobs – Within their careers advice section, they have a range of useful information related to equality and diversity.

The Voice - An award winning mixture of news, features, jobs, sports and celebrity interviews aimed at the British black community.

The Windsor Fellowship - The Windsor Fellowship (WF) is a unique charitable organisation. They design and deliver innovative personal development and leadership programmes, which enables talent from diverse communities to be realised.

Inclusive Graduates - not for profit organisation working with undergraduates and professional from underrepresented and minority groups in the UK.

Mature students and graduates

Mature students are defined as any student aged 21 or over at the start of their studies. When discussing the mature or older workforce, this generally applies to those aged in their 40s, 50s and 60s.

Legal implications

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees, job seekers and trainees because of age.

'Age neutral' application forms are now common and employers are making sure their publicity and recruitment material doesn't put off older or younger people from applying. Target Jobs

What employers say

“As an employer what we’re looking for is to hire individuals who are enthusiastic and have the right skills to succeed.”  Allianz

Allianz Insurance is one of the largest general insurers in the UK and part of the Allianz SE Group, the largest property and casualty insurer worldwide. They won the Excellence in Diversity Award 2016 in the Private Sector category.

Within KPMG’s FAQs, when asked about an age limit for their graduate schemes, they said:

"No, age is not important to us. KPMG is an equal opportunities employer and we welcome applications from all backgrounds. We pride ourselves on our commitment to creating the kind of inclusive workplace that treats everyone with respect, and where people can be themselves and still achieve their potential. All applicants are judged on their demonstrated abilities, so as long as you meet our minimum academic criteria, you can apply to KPMG."

CV advice for mature students and graduates

  • Since the introduction of age legislation it is no longer necessary to include your date of birth on your CV.
  • Produce a concise CV that clearly outlines all relevant experience.
  • Always try to equate any unfamiliar qualifications to A-levels or GCSEs, just so the employer has a rough idea of their level.
  • Be sure to include all work experience, whether paid or unpaid. Employers are more interested in the skills gained than whether you got a salary.
  • If you have had a lot of varied short term jobs, make sure you don't leave any chronological gaps. You can summarise some of the less recent and less relevant jobs (for example: 1985-1992 a variety of temporary admin jobs in the Hampshire area).

Top tips for mature students and graduates

  • Use positive language in applications and at interviews. Never apologise for your age.
  • Use contacts from previous jobs as well as friends and family.
  • Identify the skills you developed from previous work, studies, and life experience - such as teamwork, communication and adaptability.
  • Stress your ability to hit the ground running - you know all about working for a living.
  • Demonstrate your experience of making effective business decisions, and give examples.
  • Highlight your time management and self-motivational skills.
  • Demonstrate mixed-age experience.
  • Convey your reliability, loyalty and confidence to manage change.

Useful links

Target Jobs - In their careers advice section they have a range of useful information related to equality and diversity.

Vercida.com – This site only displays jobs from employers who understand the value of building a diverse workforce.

TAEN - The Third Age and Employment Network works to promote an effective labour market that serves the needs of people in mid and later life, employers and the economy.

LGBTQ+ employers

Disclosing your sexual orientation to any prospective employer is an entirely personal decision. You are not legally obliged to say anything. It is unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation in employment.

It is hard enough to find employment upon graduation, without feeling you have to hide part of who you are. Many employers actively promote the fact that they support LGBTQ+ applicants and employees and are responsive to their needs. Many wish to develop a sense of justice and endeavour to attract the best candidates, irrespective of their sexual orientation.

According to a survey conducted by Stonewall, ‘People who are out as LGB at work experience better job satisfaction and have a higher sense of achievement, according to 67 per cent of lesbian, gay and bi people’ (stonewall.org.uk).

Researching employers

  • Research any employers thoroughly before applying. Take a look at their diversity policy on their website. Look for the Stonewall and Proud Employer logos on their website.
  • Be open-minded. Keep a positive attitude and be prepared to have your stereotypes challenged.
  • Keep your CV up-to-date. If you are comfortable doing so, include any involvement in LGBTQ+ activities that demonstrate your transferable skills.
  • Check out the organisations listed on the Stonewall Equality Index of over 400 employers.
  • Network and attend career events, especially those targeted at LGBTQ+ students and graduates such as DiversCity in Law aimed at LGBTQ+ students interested in a law career.
  • Employers want enthusiastic and positive employees, so concentrate on your achievements and skills.
  • Be out if you want to be. Consider the pros and cons of being ‘out’ or not depending on each individual employer. Remember to do what makes YOU feel comfortable.

Useful links

Proud Employers - Proud Employers is a place for job-seekers to find roles with LGBT-friendly employers and for organisations to attract more diverse staff to their workplaces.

Stonewall - Profiles of Stonewall's Diversity Champions - British employers who actively demonstrate commitment to their LGBTQ+ staff.

Vercida.com – This site only displays jobs from employers who understand the value of building a diverse workforce.

Target Jobs –  information related to equality and diversity in the careers advice section.

Criminal disclosure

You do not need to disclose anything to a potential employer until they ask. Some employers wait until making a job offer before asking, whereas others will have a tick box on their application forms.

The only exception to this is when the work involves contact with disabled, elderly, mentally ill people or under-18s. The same applies to certain professions including lawyers, teachers, medics, nurses and social workers. In these cases you must disclose any convictions even if they are ‘spent’.

Often, you will be asked to apply for a job with a CV and covering letter. Submitting a CV gives you an opportunity to sell yourself by writing about your experience, knowledge and skills and why you are the best person for the job.

Consult our flowchart - 'Do I need to disclose?'

Top tips

  • Don’t mention convictions on your CV, save this for your cover letter or application.
  • If you spent time in prison, this gap in employment on your CV could be simply presented as ‘unavailable for work’. You will need to be prepared to answer questions about this in an interview.
  • It is advisable to put everything in writing so you have evidence that you disclosed your criminal record.
  • When asked, it is crucial that you are honest but also try to be as positive as possible.
  • Employers want enthusiastic and positive employees, so concentrate on achievement and skill.
  • Market yourself positively by familiarising yourself with the job description and person specification.
  • Don't assume the employer will have a negative attitude, but they may need reassuring that you do not present a risk to yourself or others.

Useful links

Nacro - a charity which provides advice, training and support.

Target Jobs – Within their careers advice section, they have information related to equality and diversity.

Prospects – Provide careers advice and job and course opportunities to students and graduates, including advice on writing CVs, cover letters and applications.

Unlock - An independent, award-winning charity for people with convictions.

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