Equality is about ensuring that everyone has the same opportunities, and no-one is treated differently or discriminated against because of their personal characteristics. These are known as ‘protected characteristics’ under the Equality Act 2010. The nine protected characteristics are:
- gender reassignment
- marital or civil partnership status
- pregnancy and maternity
- race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins)
- religion or belief (including lack of belief)
- sexual orientation
You may also have come across the term equity, which is about ensuring that everyone is treated fairly, by removing barriers to resources or opportunities that some groups in society face.
Diversity is about recognising, valuing and taking account of people's different backgrounds, knowledge, skills, and experiences.
Inclusion is where these differences between people and groups are seen as a benefit, and where people feel comfortable to share their perspectives and differences, knowing that their opinions and ideas are valued.
University’s Equality Policy summary
The University of Oxford is committed to fostering an inclusive culture which promotes equality, values diversity and maintains a working, learning and social environment in which the rights and dignity of all its staff and students are respected. We recognise that the broad range of experiences that a diverse staff and student body brings strengthens our research and enhances our teaching, and that in order for Oxford to remain a world-leading institution we must continue to provide a diverse, inclusive, fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish. For more detail see the University's full Equality Policy.
Why does EDI matter?
- We believe it is the right thing to do!
- As a public body, we have legal obligations to ensure equality of opportunity for all (as noted above).
- A demonstrable commitment to EDI is increasingly being required by external regulators (eg. Office for Students) and research funders.
- Students and staff expect us to actively promote EDI at the University.
- EDI makes good ‘business’ sense:
- To remain a world-leading university we need to continue to attract and nurture talented people from the widest pool.
- Feelings of inclusion boost retention and productivity.
- Evidence shows that diverse teams make better decisions and produce better results.
- Taking proactive action can minimise more serious issues (such as cases of bullying and harassment) at a later date.