Equal opportunities and diversity

The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. Our work involves developing relationships with people from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures. Working effectively with diversity and promoting equality of opportunity is therefore an essential part of our work.

There is no equality of opportunity if diversity is not recognised and valued. Find out about the difference between equal opportunity and diversity, and the seven areas we focus on.


Equality of opportunity is about treating people fairly and without bias and about creating conditions in the workplace and wider society that encourage and value diversity and promote dignity. It is also about trying to redress past imbalances and ensuring that dealings with clients, customers and suppliers are conducted in a constructive way that supports appropriate inclusion and does not give rise to unjustified discrimination.


Diversity is concerned with creating an inclusive environment and practices which benefit the organisation and those who work in and with it. It takes account of the fact that people differ from one another in many ways. Understanding, valuing and effectively managing these differences can result in greater participation that can be leveraged for success at an individual, team and organisational level.

When we talk about equal opportunity and diversity, we focus on seven main areas:

• Age
• Disability
• Race/Ethnicity
• Gender (which includes transgender)
• Religion/Belief and culture
• Sexual orientation
• Work-life balance

We have developed a number of policies to promote equality and diversity and we use a range of tools to monitor and evaluate our progress in mainstreaming these. We believe the best way to manage equal opportunity and diversity is to ensure that they are built into all processes and functions, considered part of all policy decisions, and present in the planning of all programmes from start to finish. This is what we mean by mainstreaming equality and diversity principles and practices.

Our equal opportunity and diversity initiatives in Poland

In addition to implementing formal policies, we also try to ensure that our commitment to equal opportunity and diversity is reflected in our events and activities. Here are some examples of initiatives that have a strong diversity theme and/or successfully demonstrate our commitment to this important aspect of our work.

Examinations for candidates with special needs

In 2012 we conducted Cambridge English examinations sessions for 158 visually impaired and blind candidates from all over Poland, which was the biggest number of candidates registered for such a test in the history of both Cambridge English and British Council. We received very positive feedback:

"Examinations sessions organised by the British Council have enabled our students to test their language skills and get internationally recognised certificates, as well as build their self-confidence. It was an extremely valuable experience for students with special needs" - Barbara Planta, Educational Centre for Visually Impaired and Blind Children in Cracow.

British Council Warsaw was recently short listed for the Ambassador of the Year award at the Platinum Centre of the Year Awards 2013, organised by Cambridge English Language Assessment.

Presentations at external conferences

  • Diversity Pays! – Warsaw, 8 March 2013
  • Woman in Culture – Gdańsk 8 March 2013
  • Work-life balance – Warsaw, 28 May 2013
  • Congress of Women – Warsaw, 14 June 2013

We sign the Polish Diversity Charter

British Council has signed the Polish Diversity Charter, a written obligation to introduce the prohibition on discrimination in the workplace and to undertake measures to create and promote diversity. The project of the Polish Diversity Charter is part of the EU-level Exchange Platform funded by the European Commission Directorate-General for Justice.

More information at www.kartaroznorodnosci.pl.

Diversity Week in the British Council

Between 21-25 October 2013 British Council has organised the Diversity Week for its employees. Week has started off with an official signing of the Polish Diversity Charter. During the week employees were invited to meetings with experts: Ewa Wojsławowicz, Coordinator of the Polish Diversity Charter and Robert Biedroń, Polish MP and LGBT activist.

All employees could also send applications to win a Diversity Award, for the best practices for diversity implemented within the organisation. The Awards will be awarded at the regional level. Everyone was also invited to take part in lunch with diverse dishes, discuss a film about work-life balance, and take part in an "Invisible Exhibition".

Throughout the week employees could enter a survey asking how we can better promote diversity inside and outside of the organisation, and every day links about various aspects of diversity were posted on Facebook, in addition to a campaign started in June 2012.

Special Educational Needs course

Several teachers have completed The British Council Special Educational Needs course in Spring 2014 semester. This course helps teachers to understand special educational needs (SEN), and feel confident about including learners with these needs during lessons. The course raises awareness of the individual requirements of all students, and states that teachers should adapt lessons to better suit the individual learners.

The course gives examples of ways to differentiate tasks so that all students are able to achieve, and work with their individual strengths. The course includes units about Autism Spectrum Disorder, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Multicultural/Multilingual learners, different assessment approaches, as well as other special educational needs.

British Council receives The Rainbow Bee Award

The Rainbow Bee Award has been established by the LGBT Business Forum Foundation for LGBT friendly company.
British Council in Poland has been awarded The Rainbow Bee as an organisation where the matter of equality is taken seriously, and where the diversity standards, relating also to LGBT employees have been introduced; an organisation where you can be yourself during the recruitment process, because, even if you are a nonheteronormative person, this fact will have no influence on whether you are hired or not. Awards were a result of a "LGBT market and workplacace research" completed in June 2014 where British Council was the only organisation perceived as having comprehensively implemented anti-discriminatory policies in the workplace by employees participating in the research.

Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month. On 2nd April British Council employees will wear blue to support “Light it Up Blue” global initiative. Our teachers will share information with our students and will educate about autism.

Watch our “Teaching Students with Aspergers” webinar for teachers

In Poland the initiative is coordinated by Fundacja Synapsis.

See also