Equality and diversity are essential tools for the prevention of discrimination and unfair treatment.
A workplace that values equality will actively try to identify and minimise barriers that exclude people, and take action to ensure equal access to all aspects of work for everyone. A workplace that values diversity makes sure to recognize, value, and take account of people’s different backgrounds, knowledge, skills, and experiences, and make use of those assets to build a more productive and effective workforce.
In short, equality is about making sure everyone has the same chances and opportunities, and diversity is about recognising and building on the strength that comes from including all kinds of people.
But the promotion of equality, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace is about more than following the relevant legislation. It requires actively working to create a positive culture of inclusion within your organisation. And letting your staff know clearly, your position.
Some 37.4% of black people and 44.8% of Asian people felt unsafe at home and around local areas, compared with 29.2% of white people in 2019, per the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The report also states that, in Great Britain, only 8.8% of ethnic minorities work as managers and directors as compared to white people. In addition, an estimated 78% of white people were employed, compared with 66% of people from all other ethnic groups combined, according to official government figures.
The most frequent kinds of reported discrimination were age (11%), gender (9%), appearance (7%) and race / nationality (7%), according to a report by the ADP. Among the industries reporting the most discrimination, those working in the Art and Culture (63%), Architecture, Engineering & Building (52%), Travel and Transport (50%) and Financial Services (49%) were the most likely to have experienced discrimination.
From these figures, it is evident that discrimination takes place in many different kinds of workplaces. To prevent discrimination or inequality from appearing or taking hold, an organisation’s equality and diversity policy should be well-designed, and the employer and Human Resources department should ensure its implementation.
Here are some resources for you to learn more about equality, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace.
The Equality Act 2010 was introduced in Great Britain to reduce unlawful discrimination and promote equal opportunities and good relations between individuals. Under the act, equality and diversity take into account nine “protected characteristics”, which are
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and Civil Partnership
- Pregnancy and Maternity
- Religion or Belief
- Sexual Orientation
All of these should be respected rather than used as reasons for discrimination or exclusion. Discrimination for any of these reasons is considered harassment and is illegal. There is no set limit to the amount of compensation that can be awarded in cases of discrimination.
Organisations are bound to design equality and diversity principles that highlight their commitment to promote equality and diversity in the workplace.
Direct discrimination is directly and actively penalising someone because of their protected characteristics. For example, an employer that refuses to hire Muslims or homosexuals.
Indirect discrimination is when a working arrangement that works well for everyone else is putting an individual at a disadvantage. An easy example of this is when personal protective equipment is provided to employees, but only in sizes suitable for males and inappropriate for female colleagues.
Harassment is defined as “unwanted conduct” and must be related to a relevant protected characteristic or be of a “sexual nature.” It must also have the intent of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for them. This takes many forms both obvious and less so, including unwanted sexual advances from co-workers, “teasing” of co-workers regarding one of their protected characteristics, and so on.
Victimisation is when an employee suffers something that causes disadvantage, damage, harm, or loss because of participating in or supporting the reporting of discrimination. An employee fired because of reporting their boss for racist discrimination has experienced victimisation.
An organisation’s diverse workforce provides a wide range of skills, ideas, and resources to offer its business a competitive edge.
Building a diverse working environment should look to hire people of different races, gender, and ages. But, it should not stop just at physical characteristics. A diverse workplace needs to be diverse in a way that it should bring a variety of ideas and talents to the table.
One way is to ensure that workplaces have policies that cover protected characteristics of the equality and diversity act. The common policies include:
- Equal Opportunities Policy
- Maternity and Paternity Policy
- Grievance Procedure Policy
- Flexible Working Policy
It is the employers’ responsibility to ensure the implementation of such policies in workplaces to promote equality and diversity in workplaces.
Organisations can provide training programmes to employees to make them aware of their responsibilities in ensuring equality and diversity in their workplace. Human Focus e-learning courses can prove to be beneficial in this regard.
It is unlawful to discriminate against someone who has or associated with someone who has perceived characteristics mentioned in the Equality Act 2010.
All questions related to age, race, gender, religion, and disability are considered discriminant. Examples are:
- What is your age?
- Are you married?
- What are your religious beliefs?
- What is your sect?
Equality is to treat everyone fairly and according to their needs. It does not mean to treat everyone the same. While diversity is the difference in geographic, racial, ethnic, religious beliefs, and political beliefs of individuals and giving respect to these differences.