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Equality and Diversity Policy Statement

HR/04/20 (2)

Sections 23 and 24 of the Charter of Incorporation of the University of Aston in Birmingham, 22 April 1966 state:

“No religious, racial or political test shall be imposed upon any person in order to entitle him or her to be admitted as a Member of the University or hold office therein or to graduate thereat or to hold any advantage or privilege thereof.

Men and women shall be equally eligible for any office or appointment in the University and for membership of the University or any of its constituent bodies and all Degrees and courses of study in the University shall be open to men and women alike.”

Aston University undertakes to promote equality and diversity within the University Community in all aspects of its work. Further, it aims to ensure through its admissions policies for students and its recruitment and selection processes for staff that it encourages applications from all groups represented in the wider community at a local, national and international level. The University will endeavour not to discriminate unfairly or illegally, directly or indirectly, against students or potential students, staff or potential staff. This commitment applies to all functions of the University and to any stage of an individual’s career at Aston.

In undertaking this commitment the University acknowledges its responsibilities under the following legislation:

  • The Equal Pay Act 1970
  • The Sex Discrimination Act 1975
  • The Sex Discrimination Act (Gender Reassignment Regulations) 1999
  • The Race Relations Act 1976
  • The Race Relations Amendment Act 2000
  • The Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act, 2001
  • The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, 1974
  • The Human Rights Act, 2000
  • Education (No. 2) Act, 1986
  • Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
  • Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
  • Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
  • The Equality Act 2006

While certain senior members of the University Community have particular responsibilities for the implementation of legislation and policy, it is the responsibility of each member of the University Community to ensure that he or she adheres to both the relevant legislation and University Policy in their treatment of other members of the University. The University undertakes to provide guidance for staff and students to enable them to fulfil this responsibility. In addition it has a comprehensive programme of Equality Training for University staff which managers should ensure is made available to staff as appropriate. All staff are required to attend the Introduction to Aston Programme which includes a session on Equal Opportunities. Staff and students at all levels are required to treat one another with respect and courtesy. The University has a Prevention of Harassment and Bullying Policy that applies equally to staff and students and requires the same high standards of behaviour towards visitors to the University.

The University is committed to ensuring that this policy is fully effective and to this end has formulated Codes of Practice on Equal Opportunities for staff and students in relation to a wide range of functions and equality issues. Staff and students who fail to act in accordance with the Equal Opportunities Policy and Codes of Practice may be subject to disciplinary action. The University undertakes to monitor progress and to assess the impact of relevant policies in promoting equality and diversity so that it may make changes as appropriate. The results of this monitoring are published annually on the University’s Equal opportunities Web site.

Approved by University Council 23.06.04

CODE OF PRACTICE

1. RECRUITMENT

1.1 Recruitment material will state that the University is committed to a policy of equal opportunities in employment.

1.2 All job descriptions should clearly identify the duties of the job and should be accompanied by a person specification outlining the educational qualifications, skills, work experience and personal attributes which are necessary for satisfactory performance of the job. These should be regularly reviewed by departments so as to ensure they remain valid.

1.3 Posts should normally be publicised internally and externally.

1.4 The wording of advertisements will be based on the job description and the person specification.

1.5 Careful consideration should be given to the most appropriate means of advertising posts, and steps should be taken, subject to budgetary constraints, to ensure that notices of job vacancies are advertised in a range of media which are accessible to potential applicants from all areas of the community.

1.6 Application procedures and forms will be kept under review so as to ensure that only information relevant to the job (as determined by the job description, person specification, and work permit requirements) is sought. Methods of applications other than application forms (e.g. the interviewer could record the information) may be appropriate where, for example, an application form would require a higher standard of English or comprehension than is necessary for satisfactory performance of the job, or where a person is unable to fill in such a form because of a disability. Such measures should be undertaken in consultation with Personnel Services.

2. SELECTION

2.1 The University will ensure that personnel staff, heads of school/department and all employees who come into contact with job applicants are trained in the provisions relevant to their responsibilities under the Acts and Codes mentioned in Appendix 1 to the Policy on Equal Opportunities in Employment, including the provision that it is unlawful to instruct or put pressure on others to discriminate. Staff responsible for short-listing, interviewing and selecting candidates will also be clearly informed of selection criteria and the need for their consistent application. Guidance will be given on the effects which generalised assumptions and prejudices about race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, sex, marital status, age, disability, family circumstances, sexual orientation, religious or political beliefs might have on selection decisions.

2.2 To this effect, all staff who undertake any part of the recruitment and selection process will be provided with a copy of the Recruitment and Selection Good Practice Guidelines and should undertake recruitment and selection skills training.

2.3 Shortlisting will always be the responsibility of more than one person.

2.4 Interviewing will always be the responsibility of more than one person.

2.5 Members of interview panels need to ensure fair treatment by asking comparable questions of all candidates and by asking questions which relate only to the requirements of the job. Interviewers must take care to avoid questions which could be construed as discriminatory, e.g. questions about marriage plans, marital status, family intentions, children, or domestic responsibilities. Candidates should not be rejected because of a disability.

In addition, the University's Charter of Incorporation excludes discrimination on the grounds of religious or political beliefs and care should also be taken to avoid questions about such matters.

2.6 Selection tests will be monitored and checked to ensure that they measure only what is relevant to the ability to do, or to train for, the job for which they are intended. Care should be taken to ensure that they do not discriminate indirectly through, for example, assumptions about candidates' background or interests.

2.7 The reasons for the rejection of each unsuccessful candidate and the reasons for supporting the selected candidate will be noted. At the shortlisting stage this will be the responsibility of the person chairing the shortlisting committee or group, and at interview of the person chairing the Appointments Board. This information will be incorporated into a selection record form which will be retained by Personnel Services for at least two years.

3. CONTRACTS OF EMPLOYMENT

The wording of standard contracts of employment and statements of conditions of service will be reviewed in accordance with the University's equal opportunities policy statement. They will contain a statement of the policy, emphasise each employee's obligation to it and inform employees that breaches of the legislation or of the policy may be treated as a disciplinary offence.

4. GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES

Grievance procedures will be available to any member of staff who believes they have been the subject of discrimination, harassment or victimisation by the University or one of its employees.

5. WORKING ENVIRONMENT

5.1 The University is committed to maintaining and developing a working environment which encourages all staff to contribute fully to the life of the University. The working environment should be supportive of the dignity and self-esteem of individuals and free from harassment.

5.2 The University will ensure that working conditions comply with health and safety legislation. The needs of people with disabilities will be given particular consideration. Alternative or additional methods of communication will be employed to ensure that access and safety requirements are understood by employees whose command of the English language is limited.

5.3 Subject to operational requirements, the University will respond sympathetically to members of staff whose personal circumstances change or to job applicants with special needs (including religious and cultural needs) and will endeavour to accommodate these through agreement on retraining and/or alternative working arrangements.

5.4 Consideration will be given to arrangements for working part-time, the introduction of flexible working hours and/or job sharing schemes where appropriate, in an endeavour to improve efficiency, enlarge the potential labour market or improve job opportunities for those with domestic and/or caring responsibilities.

5.5 The above arrangements will apply equally to all grades of post and categories of staff.

5.6 Specific guidance is included in this Code of Practice on working arrangements for people from ethnic minorities, for women and for people with disabilities.

6. PROBATION

6.1 The University will keep under review its probationary procedures for various categories of staff to ensure that they remain in accord with the legislation and the equal opportunities policy.

6.2 All staff in the same job category should be offered the same length of probationary service unless the variation is for clearly defined and justifiable reasons.

7. PROMOTION AND REGRADING

All criteria and procedures for promotion and regrading will be kept under review to ensure that they comply with the University's Policy on Equal Opportunities in Employment and are operated fairly.

8. STAFF DEVELOPMENT

8.1 Training and development opportunities will reflect the University's Policy on Equal Opportunities in Employment.

8.2 Details of training opportunities and activities will be widely communicated to help ensure that all employees are aware of them.

8.3 Training arrangements will take into account the needs of employees with domestic responsibilities.

9. UNIVERSITY PROCEDURES

9.1 The University will encourage staff to use non-discriminatory language in all internal and external documents, official correspondence and publications.

9.2 The membership of all University committees and other official bodies will be kept under review to promote appropriate participation by ethnic minority groups and women.

10. MONITORING

10.1 The Equal Opportunities Policy will be monitored and reviewed to:

  • assess the employment situation with regard to particular groups
  • identify areas where change or improvements to policies or procedures may be needed
  • identify the need for training
  • identify trends.

10.2 Personnel Services will maintain a record of the numbers of women, men, members of racial or ethnic minorities and people with disabilities who apply for posts, candidates interviewed, new appointments, leavers, current staff and promotions, to determine patterns of employment.

10.3 An annual report will be made to Council on the operation of the Policy on Equal Opportunities in Employment.

HR/00/4/ (2)

Approved by University Council 23.06.04
Updated October 2007


See also:

Disability Policy for Staff
Race Equality Policy
Religion and Belief Code of Practice
Work/Life Balance Policies
Prevention of Harassment Policy at:

http://www.aston.ac.uk/staff/hr/equalops/policies/

Last saved: Last updated at 2:20 pm on 5 November 2007