The importance of diverse and inclusive trusts is widely recognised by academy trusts across the country, and the Academy Ambassadors Programme is committed to ensuring that all trust board recruitment support is focused on helping boards achieve their aims and intentions.
The below information is provided as an initial guide to attracting and selecting candidates; however, it is not intended to replace any legal advice or guidance that your trust may receive.
It is legal to take positive action to encourage applicants from different groups. However, to decide not to interview a candidate because they are not part of that group could lead to to potential claims of positive discrimination towards the employer (academy trust), which is unlawful. There is also the risk of inadvertently excluding other applicants who have different protected characteristics, such as disability.
Further advice can be found on Gov.uk: When recruiting, you must not ask candidates about “protected characteristics”, and “You cannot choose a candidate who is not as suitable for the job just because they have a protected characteristic.”
Academy trusts must treat all candidates fairly and assess them equally against the role criteria set out.
Then, in the case where two candidates have been assessed by the trust to be equally qualified, positive action may be lawful in appointing the candidate who will help to address the under-representation or disadvantage for that particular characteristic. This must be done on a case by case basis. (Employing people with protected characteristics.)
Please note that separate guidance applies when recruiting to the responsible body of a school which has a religious ethos. In the case of recruiting Foundation Trustees, please refer to s29 of the Equality Act.