Surface Matter Equity, Diversity + Inclusion policy

Surface Matter value people as individuals with diverse opinions, cultures and lifestyles and we do not tolerate any bigotry, racism, discrimination or harassment within our team or with anyone we work with. We’re proud of our culture but we’re aware there’s more work to do. This policy helps keep us on track and remind us of our goals, both with our internal culture and in our external relationships.

We promote EDI internally by monitoring and updating our policies regularly, planning training and other developmental opportunities and communicating our commitments and goals to the team. A quarterly review examines and reinforces our efforts.

We are committed to creating an environment where individual differences and contributions of our employees are recognised, supported and valued. Where appropriate, we may monitor the make-up of our team and promote equitable treatment regardless of gender, age, disability, gender reassignment, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, ethnic or national origin, religion or beliefs, pregnancy or maternity.

We review our employment practices, procedures and our recruitment postings regularly for fairness, modifying language to be more inclusive and encourage applications from a wide range of applicants and underrepresented groups.

To attract and retain a diverse workforce we need to make sure have the right culture and processes in place. Our Strategy Director is key to realising this.

Our Grievance, Anti-Harassment + Bullying and Whistleblower policies help make sure everyone in our team has a clear path to raise any issues or concerns.

Attracting diverse talent + supporting inclusive recruitment

Managers and Directors are responsible for recruitment, with support from our independent HR Consultant. Recruitment should be approved by a Director. If this is to promote or create a new position, the Manager should present good reason for review. Approval will usually be given automatically to fill a place created by a leaver.

All vacancies are shared internally throughout Surface Matter’s system. Interested employees are encouraged to apply for opening they feel they have the right qualifications, experience and skills for. We always try to recruit the person best suited to the role.

Recruitment is only based on an applicant's abilities and merit as compared to the criteria for the role. Qualifications, experience and skills are assessed at a relevant level to the role.

Before starting recruitment, there must be an updated job description with a clear specification describing the duties, responsibilities and seniority of the role as well as the relevant qualifications, training, knowledge, experience, skills and competencies needed for effective performance.

Review proposed job descriptions with our HR Consultant before starting recruitment. Job descriptions must be reviewed for gender neutral and inclusive terms to avoid inherent biases with external tools. Job advertisements, including those placed through a job centre or employment agency should also be approved by a Director and HR Consultant.

Surface Matter is committed to applying our Equal Opportunities Policy at all stages of recruitment and selection. Our recruitment process is carried out without regard to gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, marital or civil partnership status, colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origins, religion or belief, age, pregnancy or maternity leave or trade union membership. A candidate with a disability will not be excluded unless it is clear they are unable to perform a duty that is intrinsic to the role, once reasonable adjustments are considered. Reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process will be made to make sure no applicant is disadvantaged because of a disability or protected characteristic.

Managers holding interviews should never ask applicants questions that are discriminatory or unnecessarily intrusive. The interview focuses on the needs of the job and skills needed to perform it effectively. A record of every recruitment interview must be made and retained for a suitable time.

Initial interviews should be held flexibly to accommodate locations and reduce travel and carbon footprint. Any follow-up interviews should be held in person at the location of the role, to make sure it is transparent about where and how we work.

Job offers should not be made during or at the end of an interview. Surface Matter will never ask for work without payment, or before signed offer letter and contract.

We require two written references from candidates, as well as proof of right to work in the UK and any required qualifications. Any offer of employment is conditional on all of these being met.

Supporting inclusion + diversity

Surface Matter support not-for-profits and charities working to improve diversity and inclusion in the built environment by donating time, hosting events and sponsoring placements within programmes, including Built by Us, Design Can and Open City Accelerate. Where possible entry level roles should take advantage of schemes that help attract talent and encourage applications from people with barriers to employment – this varies by industry and location, but usually includes people from low income communities, with physical or mental disabilities, criminal history and underrepresented groups because of age, disability, sex, gender and gender reassignment, disability, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, colour, religion and belief.

When listing job roles we do not require higher education degrees or certificates (unless legally required for regulated industries) as this can exclude and further disadvantage underrepresented groups. Job listings should be made on any role-specific recruitment boards, as well as those working to support diversity and inclusion, including but not limited to:

Recruitment of Ex-Offenders

Surface Matter will consider ex-offenders for employment on their individual merits. Our approach towards employing ex-offenders depends on whether the job is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.