Equality and diversity can be defined as “promoting equality of opportunity for all, through diversity, giving each individual the chance to achieve their potential, free from prejudice and discrimination.”
What is classed as Discrimination?
In the united kingdom, a number of Acts have been placed into law to help ensure individuals have the same rights regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, pregnancy and age.
Specific acts include;
- Equality Act
- Sex Discrimination Act
- Disability Discrimination Act
- Race Relations Act
- Human Rights Act
What is equal opportunity?
Equal opportunity (or equal opportunities) relates to the understanding that all people are treated as individuals without judgements made on them based on stereotypes. In terms of an organisational approach, by understanding and appreciating the different skill sets within its workforce, the organisation has the opportunity to be an employer of choice. In the UK legislation requires all job opportunities to follow guidelines on equality.
Why do we need a diverse workforce?
A diverse workforce allows an organisation to offer a wide range of skills, resources and ideas to give the business a competitive edge. Some key benefits of diversity management include;
- Cultural – knowledge of different areas of the community
- Access to additional market sectors
- Access to a wider talent pool when recruiting
- Staff have a better understanding and respect for difference
Equality and diversity policies in the workplace
Today all organisations are encouraged to have their own equal opportunities policy. Such policies protect individual employee rights while ensuring employers stay on the right side of the law.
Designed to prevent certain employment disputes, an equal opportunities policy can help ensure;
- Female workers doing the same job as male employees are paid the same amount.
- Physical disabilities are not restrictive to the role – i.e. An office worker in a wheelchair can do the same desk-based work as a worker without a disability
- Age is not a restrictive factor in employment (where the person has the skill set to perform the role)
- Employees are not overlooked for promotion due to gender, disability or sexuality.
It is important to remember that equality in the workplace applies to both employer and employees. Both can be held responsible and liable for there actions where they discriminate.
Practical benefits to the business by promoting equality and diversity
By actively encouraging equality and diversity an organisation can benefit from:
- a varied workforce, where employees with roots in other countries or cultures can help a firm build relations with a wider range of customers, allowing marketing of products and services more appropriately and sensitively
- a more efficient workforce due to shared values amongst workers where an environment of fairness, dignity, tolerance and respect prevails
- access to a wider pool of talent for recruitment – ensuring the best person is selected for the job
- a more accommodating work environment, where employees can achieve a good work-life balance through arrangements that suit both parties when outside influences affect the worker – i.e. flexible hours due to childcare arrangements or working from home where agreed while on long-term sick
Positive effects on Staff when equality and diversity is encouraged
Studies have shown that in a diverse working environment the overall organisation performs better than those without such policies. Productivity is increased, and its employees actively pursue organic business growth due to them feeling appreciated rather than restricted in their role.
Workers become empowered knowing that they have equal opportunities for promotion and career progression without fear that their beliefs, gender, race or disabilities will hold them back in their role. They are able to appreciate that their employment is down to their ability rather than a demographic dynamic. Just like those around them.
At Tutorcare we offer equality and diversity training for all business sectors. Our programme covers the legal background, forms of discrimination, compliance and the steps to take in implementing sound Equality and Diversity practices in the workplace.