March Blog Equality Diversity

Understanding Equality, Diversity and Discrimination in the Workplace

Equality and Diversity are very important aspects of today’s work life.

Discrimination used to be common in the workplace, but there is now a welcome emphasis on inclusivity.

 

All workers should be treated equally and should be given equal opportunities (regardless of age, gender, race, religion, etc).

 

In the UK, there is HR legislation in place to protect employees from being discriminated against in the workplace.

This promotes an inclusive culture in businesses, shows good ethical practices, and improves staff relations & loyalty.

Wurkplace offers a bespoke equality, diversity and discrimination online training course to ensure compliance with all UK legislation, click here for more information!

What are Equality and Diversity?

 

The definition of equality focuses on making sure everyone has equal opportunity, and is not treated differently based on certain characteristics.

Diversity involves understanding the differences between people and groups. Also placing importance on these differences to achieve certain positive outcomes.

 

To put it simply, equality places emphasis on treating all people equally; diversity emphasises celebrating differences.

Embracing equality and diversity creates a welcoming and inclusive environment, allowing all employees to have the same treatment and opportunities.

 

However, these ideals are not always welcomed in some workplaces!

 

In the UK, the employment rate was found to be significantly higher in white communities (93.7%) when compared to that of ethnic minorities (87.1%). It was also found that black employees with a degree earn over 20% less than their white counterparts!

 

Equality and Diversity issues cover more than just race…

 

In Britain, men are twice as likely to be a senior employee or director when compared to women.

This highlights how women are under-represented in the chain of command, which often leads to women being overlooked.

 

One research paper that investigated the effects of discrimination in the workplace found that employees are still subject to discrimination, despite the implementation of equality and diversity legislation.

Employees who thought they were being discriminated against also had much higher levels of stress, decreased satisfaction & commitment, and were more likely to seek new employment.

 

Although, the issue can be tackled by:
Improving the awareness of these issues. Which can help us eliminate the negative effects they have on employees, making the workplace an equal playing field!
More awareness and more training would lead to a change in perception in staff and management.

What Does the Law Say About Equality, Diversity and Discrimination?

The Equality Act (2010) was put in place to ensure all employees are treated fairly and have the same opportunity as everyone else.

This legislation identifies nine characteristics that are protected, these include:

  1. Sex
  2. Age
  3. Race
  4. Disability
  5. Religion/Beliefs
  6. Sexual Orientation
  7. Gender Reassignment
  8. Marriage/Civil Partnership
  9. Pregnancy/Maternity/Paternity

This equality act highlights how everyone has the right to be treated fairly in employment and should be free of discrimination for the nine characteristics.

Employers in the UK often make changes to their workplace and policies to accommodate a more equal and diverse workforce.

This can significantly improve the recruitment and retainment of staff!

 

Top Tips to Promote Equality and Diversity in the Workplace

  • Be Mindful of Unconscious Bias – This involves social stereotypes about groups or individuals that are different from yourself.

Everyone has unconscious biases, identifying them is a great first step in tackling discrimination.

An example of unconscious bias would be:

 

Hiring managers choosing staff based on similar background or experience.

This will not help the team grow and diversify. Similarities should never be a deciding factor for someone’s employment.

 

Let’s look at some ways to improve equality and diversity in your workplace.

Policy and Procedure

 

  • Using Objective Job Criteria – This can be when promoting, training or hiring. When you ensure you clear objective criteria, decisions can be made on the basis of talent, merit and experience. Using these criteria can eliminate unconscious (and conscious) bias.
  • Equality Policies and Procedures – Every employer should have policies that cover the issues of equality, diversity and discrimination to ensure the fair treatment of employees. Whether it’s facing workplace decisions (e.g. hiring, pay, training, etc) or general day to day activities at work, all employees should be treated the same.

 

Having policies about equality and diversity in place can help attract a wide range of employees who have different skills, resources, experiences and talents.

This can help ensure employees are not discriminated against due to their characteristics or background.

 

Workplace Culture

  • Avoid an Echo Chamber – Having decisions being made by a group of people rather than one individual can help reduce discrimination and promotes equality, and improves staff morale and relationships in the process.
  • Offer the Appropriate Equality, Diversity and Discrimination Training – This is crucial for all staff members, from new recruits to the company director. Educating employees on these issues greatly improves the awareness of discrimination in the workplace.

 

This can provide understanding and compassion for employees who may have never experienced discrimination before. Opening the eyes of staff and senior management to equality and diversity issues can help to significantly reduce the amount of discrimination in the workplace.

 

  • Send a Clear Message to All Staff – From the moment an employee is hired, it should be made clear to them that diversity and equality are highly valued by the business. Throughout their time in employment, an open and accepting atmosphere should be in place. This allows employees to come forward and discuss these issues with senior management.

 

Having this level of communication with employees can help employers to understand how their staff feel about these issues. It can also help to reduce discrimination, showing all staff that that kind of behaviour will not be accepted in the workplace.

 

Conclusion…

 

Having equality and diversity policies in place is not the end of the story, because implementing the policies is the easy part! It should be heavily promoted through all employees, to ensure an inclusive working environment is maintained.

 

When equality and diversity is no longer an issue – employees will be able to focus on what matters the most, doing their job to the best of their ability without hindrance.

 

For more information on equality, diversity and discrimination (or any other HR issue), contact Wurkplace! Call us on 0330 400 5490 or email info@wurkplace.co.uk.

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