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How to become an Equal Opportunities Officer

equal opportunities officer careers

What does a Equal Opportunities Officer do?

Equalities officers promote positive practices and attitudes towards particular groups such as ethnic minorities, disabled people and women, especially relating to education, employment, housing and access to services. Job titles vary; examples include equality advisor, equality and diversity officer, and equal opportunities officer.

Some organisations may employ officers to promote opportunities for one particular group. For example, police forces may employ race relations officers.

The work involves promoting change within organisations or the wider community by advising on the discriminatory effects of policies and practices, helping groups to articulate their needs and promoting understanding of relevant issues. Duties will vary but may include:

  • recognising equality issues within an organisation in order to ensure there is no discrimination in access to employment, education, and training opportunities, and access to other services
  • liaising with both external organisations and internal departments on equal opportunities issues within the company and the wider community
  • working towards achieving a more balanced workforce by introducing new policies, and reviewing existing practices and procedures
  • supporting community equal opportunities projects by working with groups and organisations such as Race Equality Councils, women's groups, disability groups and the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Commission for Racial Equality and the Disability Rights Commission
  • supporting equalities initiatives and events such as international women's week
  • working with local community groups to assess local needs, including facilities for specific groups
  • advising on issues of recruitment, staff development and other internal policies and procedures, and monitoring these areas
  • ensuring that advertising and promotional materials are not discriminatory
  • preparing and delivering training, presentations and workshops.

What's the working environment like working as a Equal Opportunities Officer?

Working hours are usually 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, but evening and weekend work may sometimes be required. There may be opportunities for part-time work.

The work is usually office-based, but local travel may be necessary to attend meetings.

Because the work involves dealing with controversial and politically sensitive issues it can be stressful. Therefore, although empathy is necessary, it is important be able to maintain a level of detachment.

What does it take to become a Equal Opportunities Officer?

To be an equalities officer you should:

  • be committed to equal opportunities
  • have relevant work experience
  • enjoy working with a wide variety of people; have good interpersonal skills
  • have a knowledge and understanding of equal opportunities issues and legislation, and of cultural issues
  • have good communication skills, including listening, negotiation, presentation and persuasion
  • have the ability to work on your own initiative and as part of a team
  • be open-minded, tactful and diplomatic.
The ability to speak a minority language may be required for some positions.

Equal Opportunities Officer Career Opportunities

Employers include public sector bodies such as local authorities and the civil service, professional bodies such as the Law Society, large companies and large educational establishments. In smaller organisations the work may be covered by the personnel department rather than being a separate post.

There may be opportunities to progress to a more senior position but this may involve relocation. For those with considerable experience, there may be the option of self-employment as a consultant.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Equal Opportunities Officer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Vacancies are advertised in the local and national press, in jobs bulletins produced by local councils and on organisations' websites.

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)
151 The Broadway
SW19 1JQ
Tel: 020 8612 6200

LG Careers

LG Jobs

Equal Opportunities Commission
Arndale House
Arndale Centre
M4 3EQ
Tel: 0845 601 5901

Equality Commission for Northern Ireland
Equality House
7-9 Shaftesbury Square
Tel: 028 9050 0600

Commission for Racial Equality
St Dunstan's House
201-211 Borough High Street
Tel: 020 7939 0000

The Disability Rights Commission
Tel: 08457 622 633

Courses to help you become a Equal Opportunities Officer