Equality & Diversity

An Introduction to Equality & Diversity at the BSA.

General Statement

The BSA aims to be an Equal Opportunities Employer and is concerned to highlight and support appropriate professional working practice amongst its members. As such the Equality & Diversity pages provide information relevant to staff employed by the BSA and BSA members thus:

Equality & Diversity Chart (PDF format)
Language and the BSA: Sex and Gender - this resource is currently being reviewed and updated
Language and the BSA: Ethnicity & Race (Word format)
Language and the BSA: Non-Disablist (Word format)
Dignity at Work (Word format)
Links to External Resources

Styles of sociological work are diverse and subject to change, not least because sociologists work within a variety of settings. Sociologists, carrying out their work, inevitably face ethical, and sometimes legal, dilemmas which arise out of competing obligations and conflicts of interest. The Equality & Diversity Pages aim to highlight the main concerns.

The BSA acknowledges that the existence of policies and statements do not automatically lead to employment practices and organisational cultures characterised by equality of opportunity. In addition it is aware that superficial attention to equal opportunities does little to tackle the structural and institutional determinants of social inequality and social exclusion. We are aware of the need to pay attention to all aspects of difference and diversity, not least because differences occur within as well as between groups. The BSA recognises that some of its employees and members may experience more than one form of disadvantage. 

Equal Opportunities Policy

The BSA affirms its commitment to the equal treatment of all people.

As an employer the BSA does not discriminate on grounds of sex, gender, gender reassignment, age, race, ethnic or national origins, colour, marital status, sexuality, family responsibility, disability or impairment, religious or other beliefs, unless those activities are unlawful. The BSA is firmly opposed to any form of discrimination, which can be shown to be either directly or indirectly based on these human attributes and values.

The BSA, as an employer, operates an equal opportunities policy in the recruitment, selection, appraisal, training and promotion of staff at all levels. Selection criteria and procedures are monitored and reviewed to ensure that individuals are recruited and selected on the basis of their relevant merits and abilities by ways that can be shown are not indirectly discriminatory as defined in the Sex; Race and Disability Discrimination Acts legislation. All employees will be afforded the opportunity to undertake training appropriate to their present posts and future aspirations.

The BSA will take all appropriate disciplinary or legal action to protect BSA employees from any discriminatory behaviour, verbal or physical, by any other BSA employee. Any BSA member who behaves inappropriately towards a member of BSA staff may be asked to leave the organisation. The BSA provides guidelines to members regarding relationships between BSA members and BSA employees and on relationships between members and members and others (e.g. students, respondents).

The BSA recognises the need to gauge the success of this policy and to develop it further. 

Anti-Harrassment Policy

The British Sociological Association believes that every person should be treated with dignity and respect.  Harassment of colleagues or staff is unacceptable conduct. The highest standards of conduct are required of everyone regardless of seniority.

The British Sociological Association recognises that harassment may take many forms.  It may be directed towards persons of either sex.  It may be related to ethnic or national origin, age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, nationality, religion or belief, sexual orientation, physical or mental attributes or some other personal characteristic.

An essential characteristic of harassment is that it is unwanted by the recipient and that the recipient finds the conduct offensive or unacceptable.

Harassment may involve action or inaction, behaviour, exclusion, comment or physical contact that the recipient finds objectionable or offensive.  It may result in the recipient feeling threatened, humiliated, intimidated, patronised, demoralised or less confident in their ability. Condoning such conduct may be harassment in itself.  The test of harassment is, at least in part, subjective.

Examples of unacceptable conduct include:

  • verbal abuse, or insulting behaviour, comments, jokes or gestures of an offensive, insensitive or intimidating nature, for example of a sexist or racist nature, about an individual's sexual orientation or about an individual's physical or mental attributes;
  • the display or circulation of sexually suggestive or racially abusive material (including e-mails, text messages, video clips and images sent by mobile phone or posted on the internet);
  • shouting at, being sarcastic towards, ridiculing or demeaning others;
  • physical or psychological threats;
  • the ridicule or exclusion of an individual, for example, for cultural or religious differences, on the grounds of sex or sexual orientation or on the grounds of disability;
  • unwanted physical conduct or “horseplay” and unsolicited or unwelcome sexual advances or suggestive behaviour (which the harasser may perceive as harmless), including touching, staring or commenting, pushing, grabbing, invading their personal space and more serious forms of physical or sexual assault;
  • comments of a sexual nature about a person's appearance or dress.

The British Sociological Association will take allegations of harassment seriously. Harassment by a member or delegate could result in termination of membership or exclusion from further BSA events. 

Equally, an allegation of harassment must not be made lightly.  If it is found that an allegation of harassment has been made without foundation and maliciously then this may also result in termination of membership or exclusion from further BSA events

All complaints of harassment should be made to the event lead/Chair of Journal Board unless the complaint is regarding this person when you should complain to the Chief Executive, Judith Mudd. If the event lead/convenor or Chair of Journal Board needs to escalate the complaint this should be to the Chief Executive, Judith Mudd.

If the sanction is exclusion the final decision rests with the board.

Your Responsibility

It is your responsibility to ensure your own conduct conforms to the expected standards and reflects this policy.

The aim of these policies is to encourage harmony and respect amongst individuals so as to promote good working practices with a view to all having the best experience possible at a BSA meeting/event.

If equal opportunities are not applied then valuable talent and potential are wasted. More over when unfair discrimination, harassment or victimisation take place they bring about a climate of fear, insecurity and poor performance.  As well as being illegal it affects morale.  It is therefore vital that you understand your responsibilities.

What the BSA Can and Cannot Do

The BSA is concerned to promulgate practices which contribute to the creation of a climate where all can work together and respect each other. In other words a situation which would by its very nature remove those assumptions and suppositions which make discrimination, victimisation, bullying and harassment a possibility.

The aim of these Equal Opportunities pages is to alert members of the Association to issues that raise ethical concerns and to indicate potential problems and conflicts of interest that might arise in the course of their professional activities. While they are not exhaustive, the statements made here aim to be a set of obligations to which members should normally adhere as principles for guiding their conduct. Departures from the principles should be the result of deliberation and not ignorance.

The strength of these statements and their binding force rest ultimately on active discussion, reflection, and continued use by sociologists. In addition, the statements help to communicate the professional position of sociologists to others, especially those involved in or affected by the activities of sociologists.

The statements are meant primarily, to inform members' ethical judgements rather than to impose on them an external set of standards. The purpose is to make members aware of the ethical issues that may arise in their work, and to encourage them to educate themselves and their colleagues to behave ethically.

The statements do not, therefore, provide a set of recipes for resolving ethical choices or dilemmas, but recognise that often it will be necessary to make such choices on the basis of principles and values, and the (often conflicting) interests of those involved.

  • The BSA aims to be an Equal Opportunities employer.
  • The BSA has no jurisdiction over BSA members.
  • The BSA has no jurisdiction over employers of BSA members. 

Comments and Further Developments

We recognise the need to monitor and review our policies and welcome challenges and involvement of BSA members.

Should you have any comments/suggestions regarding the BSA Equality & Diversity pages please email the BSA