’twas in 1992 I went for this job interview. I know because that’s the year my (fixed-term) research job at Sheffield ended, and I was some months “between jobs”. It was a tough time in academia: a report in the torygraph the following year said that the number of academic research jobs in UK universities declined by 11% that year. So for a geek who liked academia, a sysop job at another UK university looked like an attractive prospect.
It was a long journey, so I traveled up the day before my interview and stayed overnight in university accommodation. There I met another candidate. Only for a couple of minutes, but it was enough to tell me I couldn’t be offered the job.
No, of course I couldn’t possibly say in that time who was the better candidate for the job. But the other candidate was female and black. So the only way they could offer it to a white male was if she was a total no-hoper. Which she wasn’t: a couple of minutes was ample to tell me that. Our respective technical merits – our abilities to do the job – was going to be moot.
Sixteen years on from that clear memory, they’re now apparently going to make it law. It’s just fine to discriminate, provided victims are white and male. Maybe that’s no bad thing: it just formalises the de-facto insidious pressure that’s always been there, in the form of practices like “ethnic monitoring”, and being deemed evil if you fail to meet unofficial quotas of bums-on-seats. At least we officially know where we stand (and more to the point, so do those ‘disadvantaged’ people at the core of Old Labour or the BNP).
I’m glad my current employer was so genuinely non-discriminatory they didn’t even ask my ethnicity until after offering me the job.
 for values of ‘always’ in my working life, at least.