Equality and Diversity: Why it Matters
What Does Equality and Diversity Mean?
Equality and Diversity is the commonplace term for the fair and equal treatment of everyone, regardless of who we are. Unfortunately, in the past it has been commonplace or expected for people to discriminate against others based on certain criteria. From the racial discrimination which was evident during early Twentieth Century America, to the homophobic tendencies which recently hit the headlines in Russia, it is perhaps unsurprising that the Equality Act, designed to combat such discrimination, was passed in 2010.
An Equality and Diversity Act
The Act responded to trends within the workplace, government and educational systems, whereby equality and diversity was often not being correctly addressed. At the passing of the Act, only 15 members of parliament were of a race different to White British, whereas statistics stated that this figure should have been quadrupled. Similarly, only 1 in 10 directors and CEOs of British companies are female, whereas the population’s 50-50 balance dictates that half should be women. These issues, amongst many others, calls for a review of the United Kingdom’s stance towards discrimination and equality.
The new Equality Act was passed on October 1st 2010, following four years of discussions, research and planning. The Act provides guidelines, conditions and recommendations which prevent the discrimination or mistreatment of others based on an exhaustive range of criteria. These criteria include age, gender, disability, relationship status, ethnic or national origin, religious or spiritual beliefs and sexual orientation. Although there have been over 40 years of previous laws, such as the Sex Discrimination Act and the Race Relations Act, these have generally protected a particular characteristic and different groups were protected to different levels. The Equality Act harmonised protection from discrimination and harassment across the range of protected groups.
What Does the Equality and Diversity Act Mean to Business?
Under the Equality Act, organisations are required to promote and maintain the fair and equal treatment of all individuals, regardless of any of the above characteristics. Companies are required to ensure that their own equal rights and diversity policies align cohesively with the above, so that no discrimination, favouritism or harassment will be present during the recruitment of new staff or the treatment of existing staff.
Within the workplace, a failure to comply with the Equality Act of 2010 can often result in an employment tribunal. During such a meeting, the employer can be forced to pay compensation to the employee who suffered from unequal treatment or prejudice within the workplace. From a female employee suffering from flirty and discriminatory remarks, to a potential worker being refused employment based on their ethnicity or background, a tribunal can be costly for any employers – regardless of the scale or extremity of the offence. Aside from monetary compensation, tribunals can also order changes to be made to prevent future incidents.
Specialised Equality and Diversity Training Will Really Help
Needless to say, it is always ideal to remove any discrimination or inequality before a tribunal is required. However, some businesses may require additional help to ensure that all employees are aware and compliant of the Equality Act. Many organisations, for example tolerate a banter culture where staff do not recognise the boundary between that and bullying and harassment. W”hen selecting for employment, recruiters sometimes do not recognise their own unconscious biases.
Many specialist business training agencies offer a comprehensive Equality and Diversity programme, which offers not only a clear and in-depth understanding of the definitions and intricacies of the Act, but also the tools and knowledge to eliminate any discrimination from every aspect of the workplace. However, many of these courses are dry and uninteresting, with countless PowerPoint bullets. Many of the people that would most benefit by the training will not be listening. In, addition there is always the danger that people will feel they are being preached at.
However, through the use of drama, a variety of quizzes, activities and discussions, employees can familiarise themselves with the law, company guidelines, and the ways to maintain both equality and diversity when dealing with fellow employees, clients and customers in an engaging and interesting way.
Our experience has been that this approach usually leads to a positive response
For more information, contact an experienced and proven equality and diversity training company today.