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


Frequently Asked Questions

Read our FAQ's and Answers


I have been asked to fill out an equalities monitoring form. Why do I need to do this? Will my line manager see this information?

We gather equalities monitoring data anonymously in order to know the demographics of our workforce and students. This data helps us to identify where certain groups (e.g. people of an ethnic minority) are underrepresented so that we can take action to address any imbalances. 

What do Inclusion Leads do?

An Inclusion Lead is someone in your department to whom staff and students can come to for information and advice, distributing and drawing attention to new equality developments and legislative change. They also ensure that staff and students are conversant with UCL's equalities policies and procedures. You can read more here

What is 'positive action'?

Positive action is allowed under sections158-159 of the Equality Act 2010, where members of protected groups have been underrepresented within the workforce or in a particular work group in the preceding 12 months. These are lawful measures designed to redress imbalances and counteract the effects of past discrimination. They ensure that people from previously excluded groups can compete on equal terms with other applicants.  It can include targeted promotional initiatives, internships/secondments or training initiatives for specific protected groups.  

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is treating a person less favourably than others in the same circumstances. In a legal sense, this would be on the grounds of age, disability, gender or gender identity, race, religion and sexual orientation.

There is also 'positive discrimination', sometimes known as affirmative or corrective action. It is currently illegal in the UK. An example of positive discrimination would be to set quotas for the number of women in certain posts.


How do you ensure that during the recruitment process all selection decisions are based on merit?

UCL has a recruitment and selection policy in place to ensure that decisions are based on merit and are free from discrimination and bias. Everyone involved in recruitment at UCL is required to go on our Fair Recruitment training prior to beginning the recruitment process. The training explicitly deals with equalities and diversity issues. 


I will be 65 next year and I don't want to retire yet - is there a default retirement age here?

It is UCL's policy that staff normally retire at the age of 65. However, the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations of 2006 (effective from 1st October 2006) gives staff a right to be reminded of the opportunity to request to work beyond their employers' retirement age and gives employers a duty to consider any such request within a statutory procedure. 

For further information, refer to our Retirement Policy


I have a condition which can be defined as a disability, but it does not affect my work as I am managing my condition well on my own. Why do I need to tick the box?

Monitoring helps UCL to identify whether or not our workforce is representative of the UK as a whole. The information will not be shared with your manager and will be held confidentially.


Is there a 'glass ceiling' for female staff at UCL?

At the two highest grades at UCL (9 and 10) 31% of our staff are female. This is not representative of the population as a whole, so we have set an employment target of 50:50 female and male staff. We are committed to improving the proportion of women at senior grades by at least 1% per year, and have engaged in a number of activities, such as mentoring, to facilitate this. 


Why is our ethnicity employment target 29%? Is it only for professional services staff?

One of UCL's corporate equality objectives is to improve its equality monitoring data relating to staff and students to enable UCL to address imbalance and under representation of particular groups. In the autumn of 2001 UCL established an 'aspirational' workforce Equality Target in relation to ethnicity. It aims to achieve an annual increase of between 2.5% and 5% in its black and minority ethnic staff in administrative, clerical, technical, manual and ancillary grades and achievement against the target will be reviewed at the end of each year. This target is based on the economically active ethnic minority population of Greater London, from which we recruit the majority of these posts. We are currently reviewing our Race Equality Policy and current targets, and may develop new ones in the future. 


If UCL is a secular organisation why are people allowed to wear religious clothing at work?

UCL has to be flexible with its dress code to allow employees to comply with their religion or belief. If UCL did not allow such flexibility this could lead to unlawful religious discrimination. UCL's secular ethos is about being inclusive to people from all different walks of life and different faiths. 

Sexual Orientation

Why does UCL have a sexual orientation staff group? UCL seems to be a very cosmopolitan organisation and there is no problem with staff being gay here.

UCL's staff social network is a way for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ+) staff at UCL to get to know each other and take part in social events. The group was set up in July 2009 as some LGBTQ+ staff considered that, in an organisation as big as UCL, it was difficult to get to know people in other departments, especially other LGBTQ+ people. 


Which toilets should trans people use when they are transitioning?

Trans staff should be able to use the facilities of their chosen gender, and their employer has a duty to support them while they are at work. They should not be bullied or harassed into using either the facilities of their birth gender or the accessible/disabled toilets. The Gender Reassignment Duty states that harassment of trans people is unlawful.