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Race & Ethnicity

Identifying Positive Employers

You can use the following websites to find organisations showing their commitment to progressing opportunities for BAME individuals in the workplace.

Positive Action

A number of employers run initiatives in the workplace and during recruitment for those from a BAME background.

A number of professions have diversity networks for employees and you can take a look at the TARGETjobs Inside Buzz surveys to find out how graduates and interns rate their employers on diversity.

Online Resources

Work Experience & Internships

Work experience is essential if you want to stand out in a competitive employment market. For BAME students and graduates there are some work experience schemes designed to help.

Civil Service Summer Diversity Internship Programme

A 6 - 9 week paid placement for students from diverse backgrounds, giving you an insight into graduate opportunities in the Civil Service.

Sponsors for Educational Opportunity London
Not-for-profit organisation that provides an opportunity for undergraduate students from under-represented ethnic minority backgrounds to gain summer internships at investment banks and corporate law firms in the UK.

We will be adding more to this list soon.

Your Rights

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees, job seekers and trainees because of race - this includes the different elements of colour, nationality, and ethnic or national origin.

For example, this would include turning down the best applicant for a job because they are Nigerian and the employer feels they would not 'fit in' with the rest of the staff because they are all English.

If you feel you have been discriminated against, you may be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal. However, it's best to talk to your employer first to try to sort out the matter informally, in order to minimise the negative effects on all parties involved.


  • Direct discrimination

    Direct discrimination can be broken down into three types, but all involve treating someone 'less favourably' because of:

    • their actual race (direct discrimination)
    • their perceived race (direct discrimination by perception)
    • the race of someone with whom they associate (direct discrimination by association).
  • Indirect discrimination

    Indirect discrimination can occur where there is a policy, practice, procedure or workplace rule which applies to all workers, but particularly disadvantages people of a particular race.

    For example, a requirement for all job applicants to have GCSE Maths and English would discriminate against potential candidates educated in countries which don't have GCSEs, unless the employer accepted equivalent qualifications.

    In some limited circumstances, indirect discrimination may be justified if it is what the law terms 'a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim'.

  • Harassment

    Harassment in this context refers to unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.

  • Victimisation

    Victimisation refers to the unfair treatment of an employee who has made or supported a complaint about race discrimination.

    Employers should ensure they have policies in place which are designed to prevent race discrimination in:

    • recruitment
    • determining pay, and terms and conditions of employment
    • training and development
    • selection for promotion
    • discipline and grievances
    • countering bullying and harassment
    • when an employee is dismissed.


  • Race

    An umbrella term for the other four aspects below.

  • Colour

    'Colour', like 'race',tends to overlap, particularly with the concepts of 'ethnic origin' and 'national origin'. 

  • Ethnic Origin

    May include racial, religious and cultural factors which give a group of people a distinct social identity with a long and shared history. Examples include Sikhs, Jews, Romani and Irish Travellers. 

  • National Origin

    Birthplace, the geographical area and its history can be key factors. 

  • Nationality

    Usually the recognised state of which the employee is a citizen. 


Often, there may be a number of employees who originate from the same country or share a common language which is not English.

However, an employer:

  • can specify a language of operation, usually English, for business reasons.
  • can insist on recruiting a job candidate who has skills in English necessary for the job, but it must not select based on assumptions about race, nationality, or ethnic or national origins.
  • should be wary of prohibiting or limiting the use of other languages within the workplace unless they can justify this with a genuine business reason.

Right to Work

Employers must check their employees are entitled to work in the UK, and should also ensure any necessary paperwork is correct and up to date.

However, employers should ensure they are consistent in the checks they carry out. For example, just doing them for potential new recruits they assume are not British citizens, or not from the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or Republic of Ireland, may be discriminatory. Workers from European Union countries plus Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are also entitled to work in the UK.

Ethnic and national origins and religion

Employers and employees should also be mindful that some ethnic and national groups have devout religious beliefs. It is unlawful to discriminate against employees because of their religion or belief, or lack of religion or belief.