Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) FAQs & Resources

As a leading provider of HR Compliance eLearning, our experts are often asked about Equality, Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace. We've collected all of those questions and answered them for you below...

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Equality, Diversity & Inclusion FAQs

What are the protected characteristics under the Equality Act?

• age,
• race,
• sex,
• sexual orientation,
• pregnancy and maternity,
• gender reassignment,
• religion or belief,
• marriage or civil partnership, or
• disability.

What do equality, diversity & inclusion mean?

First of all, equality. This means offering the same rights and opportunities to all people.

Secondly, diversity. This is understanding that each person is unique. It means embracing the range of human differences, including people’s beliefs, abilities, preferences, backgrounds, values and identities.

And, inclusion is an extension of all these things. It means that all people, without exception, have the right to be included, respected and appreciated as valuable members of the community.

It's also useful to know what equity means. This means offering those rights and opportunities fairly, which means catering to people’s differences, so they are given fair access to the opportunities.

What can you not ask in an interview?

Interview questions cannot be related to your age, country of origin, race/ethnicity, disability, religion, gender/sex or if you are pregnant or married. Here are some example questions that cannot be asked to you in an interview:

  • Are you a legal Citizen here?
  • Are you married?
  • How old are you?
  • How many sick days did you take in your last job?
  • Are you/is your wife pregnant?
  • At what age do you plan to retire?
  • Do you have any religious beliefs?

I have an illness, is that under the equality act?

If your illness is considered a disability then you are protected by the Equality Act under one of their protected characteristics. A disability is defined as “physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.”

My workplace hasn't provided adequate working conditions for my disability, what do I do?

Employers have to make adequate arrangements for someone if they have a disability at work. If they refuse to do so, they are not complying with the Equality Act and can be prosecuted for it. You can do one of the three options, you can; talk them informally first to see if they even realised what was going on. You could complete a written grievance or make a complaint. Or you could make a claim to the employment tribunal. You should always try to sort things out with your employer before seeking external help.

What behaviour is unlawful?

People are protected from discrimination at work if the behaviour is connected to one of the protected characteristics (as above). There are a few main types of unlawful discrimination that you need to be aware of. These are:

  • Direct discrimination - which is when someone treats someone else less favourably than they treat others, because of a protected characteristic. Most simply explained, this is when someone isn’t given the same opportunities, respect, or conditions of employment.
  • There’s also direct discrimination by association. For example, a manager has promised their staff member a promotion but then withdraws it because they learn that the employee’s mother has terminal cancer and they assume that the extra responsibility will be too much. This could be discrimination because of the employee’s association with someone who has a disability.
  • And there’s direct discrimination by perception. For example, a colleague is 38 but they look about 25 - and as a result, an employer doesn’t choose them to represent the organisation at an important meeting, because they assume the colleague is too young. They’ve been discriminated against because of their perceived age.
  • There’s also indirect discrimination - this is often less obvious and it’s normally unintended. It can happen when people with a protected characteristic are put at a disadvantage because a rule, policy or procedure excludes them. For example, a person who grew up overseas has just moved to the UK. When they apply for a job, the application states that applicants MUST have UK qualifications - this indirectly discriminates against the applicant on the grounds of their race.
  • Positive discrimination is also something to be aware of. It’s not mentioned specifically in the Equality Act, but in the workplace it’s generally understood as someone favouring under-represented individuals from minority groups, over those in majority groups, without properly considering their merit. In this case, positive discrimination is unlawful in England, Scotland and Wales.

Harassment is a type of unlawful discrimination. Someone is being harassed if they feel repeatedly intimidated,  pressurised, humiliated, offended, or frightened by someone else’s behaviour towards them because of a protected characteristic. Harassment can be verbal, written or physical, including sexual. Someone is protected if they are harassed because of their age, race, sex, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation, and if they plan to, are, or have undergone gender reassignment. Marriage and civil partnership, and pregnancy and maternity, aren't protected from harassment specifically.

It is unlawful to victimise someone. Victimisation is when someone is mistreated or put at a disadvantage because they have confronted or reported discrimination; sometimes they are mistreated because it’s just suspected they may report it. Victimisation can also happen to someone who is supporting someone else’s claim of discrimination. As long as their report is made with honesty and in good faith - a person is protected in all these scenarios - even if some evidence proves inaccurate later down the line. An employee is not protected however if they make a false claim or support a claim in bad faith.

How can I promote equality and diversity at work?

  1. Ensure you have policies in your workplace that cover the protected characteristics of the Equality Act. So policies such as Equality & Diversity policy, an Anti-Bullying & Harassment policy, a Grievance Policy and Procedure, and an Anti-Racism Strategy. Getting the input of you and your colleagues is crucial so your managers know they are really addressing what they need to. All policies must be easily accessible.
  2. Create company values. They should be honest, simple and easy to remember. They can go up on your company website and around your workplace. 
  3. Dedicate time for discussing social issues. Perhaps someone can champion this and organise an internal support group that’s mediated (or a specialist can come in from outside your organisation) and sensitive subjects can be explored openly and respectfully among members of the team.
  4. Training and self-learning. The first should be provided for you, and the second is something for you to implement.
  5. Employ an HR representative. Your managers can also go one step further and get certain staff trained as Mental Health First Aiders, or offer an Employee Assistance Programme so there is more support available to you.

FAQs regarding our Equality & Diversity course

What legislation is relevant to this course?

The Equality Act 2010 is relevant to this training course.

How long is this course?

This course is a 60-minute course.

What devices is this course available from?

Our courses can be completed on a range of devices, they’re compatible with Desktops, laptops, mobile phones, iPads and other tablets

What approvals does this course have?

This course is CPD accredited.

How long is my certificate valid for?

It is up to the training administrator of the employee as to when training needs to be refreshed. However, to stay up-to-date with legislation, we recommend that training should be renewed every year.

Documents and resources

  • Common Workplace Biases

    An unconscious bias is an automatic judgement that somebody forms without being aware of it. There are many types of unconscious bias, but here are some of the common ones you may come across at work…

  • Grievance Procedures: Step by Step

    A downloadable document that details the informal and formal steps of grievances procedures, and how to carry them out.

Additional resources

A guide to equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Promoting, managing and regularly encouraging equality and diversity in your workforce is key to a thriving and successful business.

Whether you employ hundreds of people or you’re responsible for a smaller team, making sure all your employees are treated fairly is still vitally important.

Made in Partnership with Citation

Disability inclusivity in the workplace...

Disability should not be a barrier to recruiting or retaining great employees.

Disabled people continue to face severe barriers when it comes to entering the workplace. As an employer, you can help to challenge these barriers by creating a more inclusive workplace for disabled candidates and employees.

Made in Partnership with Citation

Managing neurodiversity in the workplace...

Understand why being neurodiverse and neuro-inclusive are important for you as an employer.

1 in 7 people in the UK are thought to be neurodivergent, so employers need to be mindful as to how the business set up helps support those with different neurological conditions to create a diverse workforce.

Made in Partnership with Citation

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