Equality and diversity officers aim to promote good relations and practices towards different minority groups. They cover various equality strands such as:

  • age;
  • disability;
  • gender;
  • gender reassignment;
  • race;
  • religion;
  • sexual orientation.

They may work within community services, supporting people who experience some form of discrimination and delivering diversity workshops to communities, staff and volunteers.

Many roles also involve the development, monitoring and review of policies and strategies designed to ensure organisations, staff and stakeholders engage with legislative duties.

Equality and diversity officers also ensure that everyone has equal access to services and they aim to stop negative attitudes.

In major companies, officers may specialise in one particular area such as disability or race relations, while those in smaller organisations may work across a range of strands.

Responsibilities

The work carried out by equality and diversity officers may differ slightly depending on the area that they specialise in, but in general, tasks are likely to include:

  • researching, applying and promoting diversity initiatives and sharing best practice;
  • providing advice, guidance and support on equality and diversity issues;
  • assessing community needs and promoting community cohesion;
  • promoting changes within organisations and the wider community;
  • developing systems for reporting any incidents of discrimination;
  • liaising with community groups and other relevant organisations, e.g. police, local councils, NHS trusts;
  • raising awareness in schools, colleges and the wider community;
  • dealing with conflict within the community or the workplace;
  • interacting with people at all levels and from a wide of backgrounds;
  • responding to complaints and providing information on options for complainants;
  • maintaining an up-to-date knowledge of anti-discriminatory legislation;
  • translating equality legislation into practice to ensure organisations meet statutory requirements;
  • writing, implementing and reviewing policy at corporate and service level;
  • presenting reports and recommendations;
  • preparing and delivering presentations and workshops to staff, stakeholders and partner organisations.

Salary

  • Equality and diversity officers typically start on salaries of £18,000 to £28,000 depending on employer, qualifications and experience.
  • With significant experience, at a manager or head of department level, salaries of £35,000 to £50,000 can be achieved.
  • Equality and diversity managers working for large public sector organisations or international companies may earn over £50,000.
  • Most salaries are related to local government or Civil Service grades and may include a pension scheme.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Working hours are typically 9am to 5pm, possibly with some extra hours. You will occasionally be required to work evenings or weekends to engage in community activities.

What to expect

  • Work is office-based to a certain extent, but you will also need to travel locally to attend meetings, deliver training and work with communities.
  • Self-employment or freelance work is sometimes possible when you have experience, for example, providing training or consultancy services on equality issues to both the public and private sectors.
  • There are generally more full-time positions than part-time positions, but job-share options are frequently available.
  • Jobs can be found throughout the UK, although competition can be strong and there are more opportunities in larger urban areas.
  • The work may involve dealing with conflict and politically sensitive or controversial issues, which can sometimes be stressful.
  • Travel within a working day is frequently required, but overnight absence from home and overseas work or travel is uncommon.
  • It is likely that you will be required to take a Disclosure and Barring Service check due to working with vulnerable groups and/or under-18s.

Qualifications

Many employers will request a degree and although any subject may be accepted, the following may increase your chances:

  • business or management;
  • community studies or youth studies;
  • human resources;
  • law and legal studies;
  • psychology;
  • public administration;
  • social work;
  • sociology.

A pre-entry postgraduate qualification in race equality, policy development or equality and diversity may be helpful, especially if you have an unrelated first degree.

Also helpful to the profession is a background in:

  • human resources;
  • law;
  • social work;
  • teaching;
  • welfare rights;
  • youth work.

Showing an ongoing interest in the equality and diversity area will be helpful so keep up to date with emerging legislation and news by consulting organisations such as the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

Skills

Employers look for prior knowledge of equality and diversity policies and initiatives. You will need to demonstrate:

  • a commitment to promoting equality and diversity;
  • excellent written and oral communication skills;
  • cultural sensitivity;
  • experience of building relationships with key stakeholders and decision makers;
  • ability to build the trust of community groups;
  • negotiation and persuasion skills;
  • ability to work in a team;
  • conflict resolution skills;
  • self-motivation and an ability to use initiative;
  • organisational and project management skills;
  • good report-writing ability;
  • presentation and training skills;
  • flexibility to work across all levels and meet changing requirements.

Work experience

Employers strongly value relevant experience and proof of commitment to this area, therefore previous jobs within local government, voluntary, faith and community sectors can be very useful.

Relevant experience can be acquired at university through equality and diversity committees or related societies. Alternatively, voluntary work in the community can be helpful. You could seek work experience in a relevant position, either in an equality and diversity role or in something related, such as HR. This could be carried out in vacancy periods or as a part-time role. Work shadowing may also be an option.

Competition for vacancies is strong, but opportunities do exist for candidates with experience.

Employers

Equality and diversity officers are employed in a range of organisations including:

  • local authorities;
  • NHS primary care trusts;
  • educational establishments;
  • Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC);
  • racial equality councils;
  • the Civil Service;
  • social housing organisations;
  • Crown Prosecution Service (CPS);
  • youth offending teams;
  • the police and prison services.

Many local authorities have specific equality and diversity teams, while others have diversity officers based in each department. There are also specialist posts in community-based organisations and youth services.

Larger employers tend to have equality and diversity teams with specialists in one of the specific strands of equality, e.g. race, while vacancies with smaller employers tend to exist as stand-alone posts with responsibility for equality issues across the whole organisation.

Opportunities with private sector employers are limited and tend to be included within a human resources team.

Job titles in this field vary greatly, and the nature of the employing organisation influences the terms of responsibility. The focus of the work may be split, with some workers responsible for developing, implementing and monitoring policy and adherence to legislation, while other workers are responsible for direct work with communities.

Look for job vacancies at:

It may be possible to find positions based within human resources departments through recruitment agencies.

Word of mouth through voluntary and community sector contacts and networks is also an important way of finding out about vacancies.

Get more tips on how to find a job, create a successful CV and cover letter, and prepare for interviews.

Professional development

Equality and diversity officers are employed in a range of organisations and training provision depends on your employer.

Training tends to take place on the job, although you will often be required to attend specific training sessions. This may be to acquire knowledge of certain topics such as new legislation.

Regional networking events and conferences are other ways to update your skills and knowledge. Your training is likely to focus on topics such as:

  • advocacy;
  • community issues, tensions and engagement;
  • employment law;
  • equal opportunities legislation;
  • negotiating skills;
  • networking;
  • presentation skills;
  • policy or project management;
  • report writing;
  • risk assessment.

Short training courses and qualifications are offered by organisations such as Equality and Diversity UK.

Depending on the specific role, employers may wish you to study towards a relevant HR qualification or a qualification offered by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). The CIPD also runs training courses in areas such as employment law and employee relations, and managing diversity and inclusion. For more information see CIPD Training.

Part-time study towards a management qualification or relevant postgraduate qualification such as a Masters in equality and diversity may also be studied, usually with the support of your employer.

Career development

Career development opportunities vary between employers and often depend on the size of the organisation.

You could move into specialising and leading in just one area, such as disability, or continue to work across a range of areas.

There may be greater scope for your career development within large public bodies, such as local councils, health authorities and larger higher education institutions. It may be possible to move into senior positions in these organisations.

If you work in a small company, you may need to move organisations or relocate to gain a promotion.

Some equality and diversity workers use their project management skills and policy development experience to move into general management.

With considerable experience, it may be possible to become self-employed, by offering training in equality and diversity or a consultancy service.