Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the British Council

We know that societies and working environments grow and thrive when there is understanding, trust and respect between people. That’s the reason why we aim to ensure that issues of equality and diversity are a part of all that we do, why we measure our progress through our own unique tool (known as the ‘Diversity Assessment Framework’) and why we invest in a global diversity network that spans all of the countries we work in.

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 our work.

Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategy commits us to ensuring that there is no unjustified discrimination 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 and ethnicity, religion and belief, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, spent convictions, trade union activity or membership, work pattern, having or not having dependents and any other irrelevant grounds.

We aim to promote and abide by equality legislation by following both the letter and the spirit of it. We try to avoid unjustified discrimination, recognising that it is a barrier to equality of opportunity, inclusion and human rights.

We are committed to:

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

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

We review the policy at least every three years to reflect new legal and regulatory developments and ensure good practice.

Please consult our Diversity Unit site for further information.

Measuring Progress

By measuring and monitoring our actions, we can make progress in bringing equality and diversity into the mainstream. We have a number of ways of doing this, including monitoring equality, screening our policies and by applying a tool we have developed called the Diversity Assessment Framework which assesses our effectiveness in mainstreaming equality of opportunity and diversity in everything we do.

Diversity Assessment Framework

Our Diversity Assessment Framework is a tool that 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. It acts as an internal benchmarking tool, generating examples and evidence of good practice from which others can learn in the process. The approach has attracted considerable interest from the public and private sectors in the UK and around the world and we are always willing to discuss our experience of mainstreaming diversity with individuals and organisations that might want to hear from us.

Employees with Disabilities

We are committed to attracting people with disabilities to work with us and to ensuring that employees with disabilities are able to progress and develop their careers. We guarantee an interview to all people with disabilities who meet the required criteria and make reasonable adjustments to help support their full participation. Our internal Disability Working Group and external Disability Advisory Panel are a valuable resource in promoting understanding and awareness, supported by training and development materials and initiatives.

Equal opportunity policy statement

As the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations we develop relationships with people from a wide range of backgrounds.  Engaging positively with the richness of this diversity is central to what we do and in line with our core values.

Our Equal Opportunity Policy originates from the United Kingdom (UK) because the British Council is an organisation with origins and headquarters in the UK.  The Policy applies in the UK and elsewhere where the British Council operates wherever local conditions allow. Where practices and legislation are more developed and extensive we meet local requirements.  Notwithstanding this, all staff, as an organisation wide behavioural standard, irrespective of their work base, are required to ensure their behaviour demonstrates respect for the fundamental human right of every person not to be unjustifiably discriminated against on grounds of perceived difference within the terms of this policy.  The policy also applies to third parties that work with us such as clients, customers and suppliers.

We are committed to equality of opportunity and inclusion, and to positive action to promote this. We believe that an Equal Opportunity Policy helps to ensure that there is no unjustified discrimination in the recruitment, retention, training and development of staff on the basis of gender including transgender, marital status (which includes civil partnerships), sexual orientation, 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, on the basis of having or not having dependants, or any other irrelevant grounds.  We also believe that an Equal Opportunity Policy benefits employees and potential employees, partners, clients and customers and helps achieve dignity at work, as well as contributing to providing the best possible services to all stakeholders.

We progress our Equal Opportunity Policy through our Diversity Strategy and through a commitment to mainstreaming equality and diversity principles and practices and monitoring our progress.

We have developed our Integrated Equality Scheme to help us promote equality and eliminate discrimination in the areas of gender, race and disability. Find out how we are applying this scheme worldwide.

Voices from Staff

“Employing teachers from a range of different countries, backgrounds and cultures can help to enrich and strengthen the skills of the teaching team.” -  Paul Murphy

As a British National teacher of Caribbean heritage, I felt that my experience as a teacher to Thai students in Thailand was a mutually enriching one. Many of them had had limited or no interactions with British nationals of diverse or minority heritages and expressed surprise that there were British citizens of minority backgrounds. Many of my students were not aware of the racial and cultural diversity that can be found in the United Kingdom. Our interactions in the classroom were very positive and, contrary to what I read on teaching blogs on various websites, I feel that I was received positively by the students. The blogs stated that students may prefer not to work with non–white teachers. However, I feel that I was received positively and I greatly enjoyed the experience of teaching Thai students. I learned so much from them, too. This experience enabled Thai students to learn so much more about the diversity of the United Kingdom and better prepare them for any visits or further studies they may plan to do in the United Kingdom. I believe this teaching experience also helped them to see that the United Kingdom and the British Council are  forerunners in the area of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. I see this as positive for the cultural relations strategy of the British Council. The students were able to work effectively with British teachers of diverse heritages. -  Hazel Harris

“I am a transgender woman who had a bad experience at a job interview with an organization that  discrimated according to a person’s sexual orientation. They just closed the door in my face – I do not think it was  fair treatment. However, the British Council is different. The gender discrimination issue has been eliminated and I was assured that my gender identity wouldn’t affect the organisation’s decision to hire me. My gender identity has nothing to do with my capacity and ability to work” – Pichayanun Ruangrojanarit 

“I believe that the British Council’s values attract people of diverse backgrounds to work with us. In conclusion, I think the Equality and Diversity policy has given access to the British Council for various groups of people” – Supawan Suthavireesan       

“This policy has created a positive effect on employees because they do not have to worry about hiding who they really are. This also shows that the organisation values its staff, enabling them to work with co-workers in harmony and being able to achieve goals within given timelines. In addition, this policy allows equal opportunities for training as well as listening to our needs with regards to an individual’s capacity for development, which staff can include in their annual work plan.” – Pichit Phromkade   

“The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy has led the organisation to better understand its clients – meaning that the management team values the diversity among staff and listens to staff’s opinions in order to improve the quality of services to best suit customers." – Nuainee Nawee