Working in Equal opportunities

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Barry Spears is an executive officer with the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND). He is leader of a small team that advises staff facing grievances about their rights in the workplace. He also deals with problems relating to disability issues.

What do you do?

I work in the equality and diversity team with 15 others. I manage a section of four people dealing specifically with disability issues faced by staff. As a whole, the team covers many other workplace topics such as gender, work life balance and nursery provision. Mainly, I concentrate on employees' cases regarding disability issues. As well as dealing with individual cases myself, I offer advice to other staff in my department.

What about disability issues?

I have faced these in my previous work as I am visually-impaired and my experiences have helped in the quality of advice I give. I often deal with 'access to work' reports. These are all about adjusting the work and the workplace so that people with a disability are not prevented from doing their job because of external obstacles.

I read them these reports, pass the information contained within them to colleagues in other departments and liaise with staff to ensure that the recommendations are acted upon.

I also attend meetings and conferences, giving talks to raise awareness of equality and diversity matters.

What equipment do you use?

I use a computer, which has screen-read software on it. I scan information using the scanner that is attached to my computer. The computer then reads the information to me, I also have a laptop, which I use when I go to conferences and events away from my office.

What is your office like and who do you work with?

I work in an open-plan, roomy office, next to colleagues and my team. The work environment is quite and friendly.

What management tasks do you do?

I am leader of my section and I have to ensure my colleagues are doing their work correctly and efficiently. Every day, I discuss their caseloads and make myself available to help with any work problems they face. I am responsible for their work performance and am involved in organising any training needs, for instance, as well as maintaining holiday leave records for each member of the section. I have team targets to achieve relating to work throughout and deadlines – for example, how long we take to respond to letters and deal with staff problems. Although I am section leader, I have to do an equal share of the work as well.

What personal qualities and skills do you use in your work in equal opportunities?

I need to be a good listener, as part of my job involves listening to people's problems and helping them to solve them. I have to be a good communicator so that I can provide accurate information in writing, over the phone or face-to-face.

What do you enjoy about your equal opportunities job?

I enjoy working in the Civil Service because it gives me an exciting working environment and the scope to enhance my existing skills and develop new ones. As far as my particular job goes, I relish the opportunities that I have to give talks and raise awareness of issues surrounding disability, and I like being part of a team.

Is there anything you don't like about your work?

There are obviously some elements of my job that aren't as enjoyable as others. For instance, routine office work and sifting through reports is not as exciting as going to meetings and giving presentations.

What do you find a challenge?

Learning and understanding the legislation concerning disability, applying my knowledge to help staff within the IND and producing work to a very high standard and to a suitable timescale, are all challenges that I face.

Barry's route to his equal opportunities job

  • A levels and Advanced GNVQ
  • Degree in Business and Marketing
  • Entered Civil Service in current role straight after university

Barry's equal opportunities tips

  • If you have a goal, keep trying as you will succeed in the end
  • Always ask for advice, as there will always be people who can help you
  • The Civil Service offers a very wide range of career opportunities; never make assumptions about working for the Civil Service

Equal opportunities related jobs

  • Counsellor
  • Equal opportunities officer
  • Human resources officer
  • Occupational psychologist
  • Training instructo

Salary working in equal opportunities

  • Executive officers working for the IND earn between £17,294 and £21,402 nationally, or between £19,011 and £22,298 in London.
  • If you have the ability, it is possible to move up to higher executive officer level and earn between £21,621 and £26,756 nationally, or between £22,516 and £27,865 in London.

How to work in equal opportunities

  • To become an executive officer within the IND, you usually need two A levels/H grades and five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3) including English language, or equivalent qualifications. Many entrants have a degree.
  • Training as an IND executive officer may include some residential training courses.
  • Most of the detailed training is gained at on the job, learning from more experienced officers.
  • You may get the chance to study for professional qualifications.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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