Did you know that 78% of large UK businesses pay men more than women? Or that 2.6 people on UK tech boards are ethnic minorities? What about the fact that only 16% of people with Autism are in full time paid work?
It’s clear to see that even in 2020 there is still a huge problem with Equality & Diversity in UK workplaces.
Equality is all about ensuring that all people are given the same opportunities, rights and status. It also means that people should be given the same chances as everyone else, regardless of where they were born, what they believe in, their gender, the colour of their skin or if they have a disability.
Diversity is about embracing everyone's differences and understanding that every individual is unique.
When it comes to Equality & Diversity in the workplace, employers should understand the benefits of an equal and diverse workforce and take steps to promote equality and diversity. In this guide, we look at how to approach Equality & Diversity in the workplace, the benefits of an equal and diverse workplace, and how to promote it to all members of staff.
Legislation surrounding Equality & Diversity
The Equality Act 2010 is a UK Act that replaces previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act, making the law easier to understand and strengthening protection.
Under the Equality Act, equality is everyone’s responsibility, but by law employers have a duty of care to treat all their employees fairly and with respect from the moment they are interviewed right up until they leave or retire.
The act is designed to protect people from discrimination related to any protected characteristics, which include:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion and belief
- Sexual orientation
The Equality Act also includes 'Prohibited Conduct' which are actions that people are not allowed to do to each other on the basis of any of the protected characteristics.
Employers also have a responsibility to make sure that the behaviour of their employees is acceptable, that employees treat each other fairly and with consideration. It’s really important that employees who have any concerns know where to go for help.
The benefits of promoting Equality & Diversity at work
Everyone has a right to be treated with dignity and respect at work. Not only is it a basic human right, but it also makes sense for your organisation. People who are treated well and fairly tend to be more engaged at work; those allowed to share their skills and talents tend to contribute more to the success of a business; and those who are appreciated tend to enjoy their work more and produce better work.
Embracing diversity means looking beyond our stereotypes and the categories we put people in; instead, seeing each person as an individual with a unique mixture of skills, talents and ideas. When we do this in the workplace we can turn these individual differences into real advantages. Being open and inclusive can benefit an organisation and it can benefit the people who work there.
Having a diverse workforce where individuals come from a variety of backgrounds enables an organisation to draw on a wide range of skills. Recognising and using these skills and talents, recognising the different perspectives and approaches, and embracing the ideas of all their employees, helps organisations to become more innovative and creative and they tend to be better at problem-solving.
Additionally, a diverse workforce can also help an organisation to have a better understanding of the needs and desires of their customers, and it enables them to tailor and market their products more effectively, especially if members of the team are also in the same demographic as the target audience.
It’s important that an organisation respects and appreciates the people who work for them, regardless of who they are or the differences they have. It increases staff commitment, improves staff retention, increases return on training investment, and creates a supportive culture where everyone can thrive. It creates a happier environment which encourages innovation, loyalty and greater success!
How to promote Equality & Diversity at work
There are a number of ways that employers can promote Equality & Diversity to their workforce. Here are some that we think are most effective...
You should ensure that your organisation has policies in place that cover the protected characteristics of the Equality Act. These should include:
- Equal Opportunities Policy
- Maternity/Paternity Policy
- Grievance Procedure Policy
- Flexible Working Policy
By having these policies in place and policing them properly, you are demonstrating to your employees that you have a strong commitment to ensuring that your workplace is working towards compliance with the Equality Act.
Speak to your employees
One of the best ways to promote Equality & Diversity to your employees is also one of the simplest.
By speaking to and engaging with your employees on the topic of Equality & Diversity, you’re able to see how well they feel your company handles it. Also, it’s a fantastic opportunity to ask if they have any suggestions to make your workplace feel more inclusive. In turn, seeing the suggestions come to life will let the employees know that you take their ideas seriously.
As an employer, you should give your staff the skills to identify and challenge inequality. Effective and well-communicated strategies should be in place and training regularly provided to all members of staff.
Here at iHASCO, we offer an Online Equality & Diversity Training course that helps users to understand what is considered unacceptable behaviour in the eyes of The Equality Act 2010, including discrimination, harassment, and prejudice.
The course looks at all of the protected characteristics under the act and explains why it is illegal to discriminate against someone because of a protected characteristic.
We also offer an Online Unconscious Bias Training course that covers biases in the workplace, how to reduce bias, and how to encourage employees to reduce bias.
You can claim a free, no-obligation trial to any of these courses today!