Office of the President and Provost (Equality, Diversity & Inclusion)


Fair Recruitment Specialist Scheme

The Fair Recruitment Specialist (FRS) Scheme launched in 2018. The Specialists are volunteers drawn from UCL staff who identify as Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME).  The Scheme is part of UCL’s work on the Race Equality Charter.  Best practice is to avoid all-White recruitment panels, however, the profile of UCL staff cannot currently deliver this, and therefore the scheme was established to fill this gap.

The aim of the scheme is to:

  1. Enable racially-diverse recruitment panels, particularly for UCL departments that cannot provide this from within their own staff cohort.  Fair Recruitment Specialists are drawn from departments with diverse staff profiles to support less diverse departments.
  2. Reduce ‘stereotype’ threat that may be experienced by minority identity candidates when interviewed by majority identity panel members.
  3. Provide a presence from outside the local management hierarchy, that will feel more able to question selection decisions and feel less pressure to submit to ‘group thinking’.

Accessing a Fair Recruitment Specialist

  • Requests should only be made for posts at Grade 7 and above as this is where Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic under-representation of our staff profile is an issue. (Race Equality Charter Submission 2020).
  • Fair Recruitment Specialists should be involved at both the shortlisting and interview stage where they become a panel member. The Chair of the panel should ensure that Fair Recruitment Specialist is fully involved in the selection process.
  • Please provide a minimum of 3 weeks’ notice. This acknowledges that our Fair Recruitment Specialists are volunteers and need to plan their participation. Requests that provide less than 3 weeks' notice will not be processed..

In your request, please provide all the information in the bulleted list below.

  • Job title
  • Job grade
  • Department
  • Faculty
  • Specific shortlisting dates, times & location (not 'w/c' or 'tbc')*
  • Specific interview dates, times & location (not 'w/c' or 'tbc')*
  • Job description (as an attached document)
  • Minimum 3 weeks’ notice given: Yes/No

*Without specific dates, times & locations (online/campus), the specialists will not be able to determine their availability to assist you.

Please submit your request with all the above information to fair-recruitment-specialists@ucl.ac.uk

Requests that fail to meet the above criteria or provide all the required information will not be processed or circulated.

Fair Recruitment Specialists can sit on any panel, regardless of their grade or home department, although we do not support the informal attendance of a Fair Recruitment Specialist from within your own department, as this is a UCL scheme and is monitored accordingly.  Local involvement reduces the pool of volunteers available for departments unable to supply diverse panel members.  It diminishes a key component of the scheme - to provide panel members uninhibited by local management loyalties. 

We encourage departments to ensure that they have diverse panels and where possible ensure that they use a Fair Recruitment Specialist who is not associated with their department in order to prevent the risk of over burdening the Fair Recruitment Specialist to only sit on local panels and not participate in the UCL Scheme for which they have been trained.

If Recruiting Managers are unable to secure a Fair Recruitment Specialist from the central pool, but are able to secure a BAME staff member to sit on the panel, this cannot be classed as participation in the FRS scheme.

Fair Recruitment Specialists provide a presence from outside the management hierarchy that will feel more able to question selection decisions and feel less pressure to submit to ‘group thinking’ and local culture.

How can I volunteer to be a Fair Recruitment Specialist?

If you can meet the eligibility criteria below please complete an Expression of Interest Form and you will be contaced when training has been scheduled.

Thank you in advance for your interest in supporting this important initiative.

Eligibility criteria:

You self-identify as Black and Minority Ethnic (and not as White).

You can commit to participating in 3 recruitment activities per calendar year (a minimum of 1 process per term), appointed through the central scheme.

You are in a role that potentially has wide-ranging relevance across the institution, for example (but not limited to): programme administrators, administrative managers, admissions tutors, departmental tutors, pastoral staff, lab managers and central professional services roles that involve a lot of variety and cross-departmental working.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we have the scheme?

The scheme has been initiated as part of UCL's race equity commitments through the Race Equality Charter. This national charter is aimed at improving the representation, progress and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education.

At UCL, there remains a striking disparity between the proportion of Black and Minority Ethnic students and BAME academic staff. In our most senior Professional Services roles, very few staff are from a Black or Minority Ethnic background, despite London being one of the most diverse cities in the world. Therefore, our Race Equality Charter Mark work aims to improve these figures and work towards greater race equity.

What do Fair Recruitment Specialists get out this scheme?  

In return for giving their time and commitment, Fair Recruitment Specialists benefit by:

  • Playing an important role in decision-making at the University
  • Receiving high-level specialist training, which is transferable
  • Building new relationships in other parts of UCL (increased networking)
  • Demonstrating citizenship through volunteering that can be referenced in promotion applications
  • Boosting their CV and profile at UCL
  • Helping UCL meet its aspirations on equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Career development - being an active Fair Recruitment Specialist enables you to demonstrate UCL's Ways of Working across every grade
Will the Fair Recruitment Specialist provide admin support to the recruitment process?

The Fair Recruitment Specialists have been trained in selection and assessment skills. They are there to add value to the process, not relieve others of their administrative responsibilities. 


Is it tokenism to involve black and minority ethnic staff in recruitment panels in areas outside of their experience?

The intention is to bring more visible diversity to UCL's recruitment panels. We hope this will help reduce the 'stereotype threat' that Black and Minority Ethnic candidates may experience when faced with an all-White panel. It will also demonstrate UCL's commitment to inclusion for all interview candidates. 

Fair Recruitment Specialists are there to be far more than a face on a panel though. They have been trained in UCL recruitment policy, assessment skills and unconscious bias. They will bring all these skills along to the selection process and contribute to a consistent approach across varied departments.

Can only Black and minority ethnic staff who are from a visible minority become Fair Recruitment Specialists?

We understand and acknowledge that people with identities from White backgrounds also face forms of discrimination (xenophobia), for example White Eastern European people.   However, for this initiative, we are focussing our efforts on the identities that experience the most material disadvantage according to our staff data, which indicates significant under- representation for Black and Minority Ethnic staff from a visible minority.

UCL’s Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) work is made up of various workstreams.  Some focus on EDI in a generic/comprehensive way and others focus on particular identities, depending on context and circumstance.  At this stage, the scheme is therefore only open to Black and Minority Ethnic staff who do not identify as White as we believe this where a targeted scheme will have the most impact but we will continually keep this under review.

What value will using a Fair Recruitment Specialist add to the recruitment and selection process?

UCL's recruitment policy seeks to select the best candidates for our positions based solely on merit. Yet there is considerable research that shows aspects of a candidate's identity, such as their gender or ethnicity, may differentially, but subtly, shape the expectations and behaviours of a recruitment panel and consequently the selection outcome. This is not necessarily the result of overt prejudice and can instead be caused by the implicit biases that everyone brings into the process of evaluating candidates, particularly in the relatively informal process of the interview, where subjective judgements are often made. 

For these reasons, diverse recruitment panels are regarded as a significant element in fair and effective recruitment. It adds a variety of perspectives to decision-making, helps mitigate against 'cloning' and the perpetuation of current profiles, reduces the possibility of stereotyping, can improve candidate performance by reducing 'stereotype threat', and is a visible demonstration of UCL's commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Fair Recruitment Specialists can facilitate best practice by helping recruiting managers hire the best candidate. Their use will support the increase of consistency in UCL recruitment practice, as they will work across UCL within different departments.

How can someone with limited, or no knowledge of the job be an asset to the recruitment panel?

Fair Recruitment Specialists will act as 'cross-functional interviewers'. Organisations such as Google have led the way in their use. As they have no connection with the job, or the department, they are able to remain objective and contribute to keeping quality of hiring high. 

How or where are the Fair Recruitment Specialists recruited?

An open invitation goes out asking staff who identify as Black or Minority Ethnic to express an interest in becoming a Fair Recruitment Specialist. These staff then receive specialist training to enable them to undertake this role.

Further information