Equal Opportunities Policy

Purpose and scope of the policy

The IRRI Rights in Exile Programme is committed to encouraging diversity and eliminating discrimination amongst its employees and volunteers. No employee or volunteer should feel unfairly disadvantaged and that each employee should feel respected and able to give of their best. Personal discrimination of any sort will not be tolerated as part of our working environment and programming.

The purpose of this policy is to promote equality and fairness for all in our work and not to discriminate on grounds of gender and gender identity, marital status, race, ethnic origin, colour, nationality, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, religion or age.

We will work to eliminate all forms of unlawful and unfair discrimination for employees and prospective employees.  This includes any staff or prospective staff living with HIV/Aids.

Our staff will endeavour to ensure that consultants working for IRRI and visitors who attend IRRI events adhere to the spirit of this policy.

All staff are expected to adhere to IRRI’s standards of integrity, professionalism, accountability and openness.

Our commitment

IRRI is committed to providing equal opportunities in employment and to eliminating unlawful discrimination in employment. This commitment covers recruitment, opportunities for appropriate training and development, pay and benefits, discipline and selection for redundancy.

IRRI is committed to ensuring that all staff are given the support needed to enable them to carry out their roles, this includes allowing time for external support if required.

This policy is intended to assist the organisation in putting this commitment into practice. Compliance with this policy should also ensure that employees do not commit unlawful acts of discrimination.


Respect is an important aspect of ensuring equal opportunities in employment. IRRI aims to ensure that all staff are treated with dignity. IRRI will take action to ensure that the work environment is free of harassment and bullying.


The Board will oversee the implementation for the policy.

The co-directors are responsible for ensuring that their employees adhere to this policy and for ensuring equality of opportunity for their staff.

All staff are obliged to adhere to the Equal Opportunity Policy. We would encourage staff to notify the co-directors about any personal disabilities to enable us to make any necessary adjustments.

Equal opportunities in employment

Job descriptions and person specifications will be limited to those requirements that are necessary for the effective performance of the job.

IRRI cannot lawfully discriminate in the selection of employees for recruitment, but IRRI may use appropriate lawful methods, including positive action, to address the under-representation of any group which IRRI identifies as being under-represented in particular types of job.


IRRI will provide training in equality and diversity to all staff likely to be involved in recruitment or other decision making where equality and diversity issues are likely to arise.


If an employee considers that they may have been unlawfully discriminated against, they may make a complaint. In the first instance the employee should discuss the matter with one of the co-directors, or if uncomfortable to do so, directly with the Board.

The law

It is unlawful to discriminate directly or indirectly in recruitment or employment on grounds of sex, gender reassignment, pregnancy, colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origins, sexual orientation or religion or belief, or because someone is married or is a civil partner. It is unlawful to treat someone less favourably on grounds of disability than others without that disability are or would be treated, unless the less favourable treatment can be justified, or to fail to make reasonable adjustments to overcome barriers to employment, caused by disability. It is unlawful to discriminate unjustifiably on grounds of age in relation to employment.

Discrimination after employment may be unlawful, eg in refusing to give a reference, or in the form of reference given.

Types of unlawful discrimination

Direct discrimination is where a person is treated less favourably than another in comparable circumstances on a prohibited ground. An example of direct sex discrimination would be refusing to employ a woman because she was pregnant.

Indirect discrimination is where a provision, criterion or practice is applied which is such that it would be to the detriment of a considerably larger proportion of the relevant group to which the individual belongs than to others, which is not objectively justifiable and which is to the individual’s detriment. An example of indirect sex discrimination could be requiring everyone to work full time unless there is a good reason as to why the particular job has to be done on a full-time basis, since requiring everyone to work full time will normally adversely affect a higher proportion of women than men.

Harassment is where there is unwanted conduct related to one of the prohibited grounds which has the purpose of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person, or is reasonably considered by that person to have the effect of violating his or her dignity or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for him or her, even if this effect was not intended by the person responsible for the conduct.

Failure to make reasonable adjustments is where arrangements disadvantage an individual because of a disability and reasonable adjustments are not made to overcome the disadvantage.

Victimisation is where someone is treated less favourably than others because he or she has alleged unlawful discrimination or supported someone to make a complaint or given evidence in relation to a complaint.

Positive action

Positive action may include:

  • Directing recruitment initiatives towards areas where groups are under-represented
  • Publishing advertisements for vacancies which specifically encourage applications from under-represented groups
  • Providing taster days for under-represented groups
  • Under-represented groups will be encouraged to apply for training and employment opportunities. Wherever possible, special training will be provided for such groups to prepare them to compete on genuinely equal terms for jobs and training. However actual recruitment to all jobs will be strictly on merit.
  • Wherever necessary, efforts will be made to identify and remove unnecessary/ unjustifiable barriers and provide appropriate facilities and conditions of service to meet the special needs of disadvantaged and/or under-represented groups.