Equality and Diversity in the Workplace

  • Equality & Diversity
Equality Diversity
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

Learn how to promote equality and diversity in the workplace. And how inclusion can improve employee wellbeing alongside business reputation.

Equality and diversity are important elements that all employers need to consider.

They create healthy workspaces; and help meet moral duties for employees and customers. In return, businesses gain higher retention, performance, and loyalty.

If you fail to present equality and diversity in the workplace, you could face serious consequences. From discrimination complaints to legal breaches–in the end, your whole business could be at risk.

In this guide, we'll look at what equality and diversity is, what the law covers, and how to promote it in your workplace.

What is equality and diversity in the workplace?

Equality and diversity are all about creating a fair and inclusive environment

It's about embracing people's 'differences'. These range from different backgrounds to life experiences.

All employees have a right to be included and supported at work. They should also receive equal opportunities to help grow their skill set and careers.

What is the difference between equality and diversity?

Although people use these terms interchangeably, they’re completely different.

Workplace equality is all about providing equal opportunities to employees, workers, and job applicants. Employers should hire people based on talent and capability.

Workplace diversity is all about employing people with different protected characteristics (like their racial or religious background). It might be hard to summarise diversity; but really, it's all about individualism.

It's important for employees to know their 'differences' are what make them valuable.

What are the benefits of equality and diversity in the workplace?

There are so many benefits when it comes to workplace equality and diversity. Let's take a look at a few:

Builds up your brand-name

Equality and diversity can easily help promote your business reputation and brand-name.

This is especially important when your organisation is new or trading in a crowded market. It makes your business look like a comfortable and desirable place to work. It also helps attract top job seekers whose skills and talents can help advance your organisation.

Provides diverse ideas and views

There are many benefits you gain from a diverse workplace culture.

It provides you with a diverse range of business views and ideas you might not have utilised before. It's really productive for organisations where creativity and collaboration is a must.

Reduces staff turnover

When an employee feels valued and comfortable at work, they're less likely to leave.

A diverse workforce helps each person see their value within the company. This leads to higher performance, motivation, and loyalty. In the end, there's no reason for leaving - reducing your staff turnover.

Leads to better problem-solving skills

In a diverse workforce, workers often present more than one way of problem-solving.

They'll present a range of views, strategies, and solutions. Ultimately, your organisation gains higher skills and better output.

What is the law on equality and diversity in the workplace?

In the UK, employers need to follow the minimum standards on workplace equality and diversity.

Every employee must be treated fairly - no matter what their 'differences' (like age or gender reassignment). Under the Equality Act 2010, there are nine protected characteristics you cannot discriminate against. These include:

What are the consequences of breaching equality law?

Employees should never be alienated or victimised because of their protected characteristics.

If you fail to manage claims or your legal compliance, it could end up affecting your employee morale. And this quickly leads to ruining your business output and reputation.

Affected employees may decide to raise a claim against you. Under discrimination law, these must go through employment tribunals, where the judge will assess the claim in full. If these employment disputes are successful, you could end up paying unlimited compensation.

Remember, every employee, worker, and job applicant is protected from workplace discrimination.

(This applies to all protected characteristics outlined under the Equality Act 2010. Age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage or civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion and belief; sex; and sexual orientation.

How to promote equality and diversity in the workplace

All organisations benefit from creating a company culture that values equality, diversity, and inclusion.

You'll be able to retain and attract talented people who can help drive business success. Let's look at ways to promote equality and diversity in the workplace:

Create an equal opportunities policy

The first step to take is to create an equal opportunity policy.

Promoting equality, inclusion and diversity policies will be beneficial for you and your staff. Everyone can acknowledge your position on opportunism and teamwork.

The policy plays a critical role for managing workplace issues, like victimisation or discrimination.

Widen your hiring process

Another great way to promote diversity and equality is through your hiring process.

Having equality and diversity management practices helps you reach job applicants that may not have been available to you before.

A wider talent pool attracts talented job applicants, with better skills and competitive edge. They'll have unique ideas, views, and ways of working. Make sure your hiring team is up-to-date with their diversity and inclusion training.

Openly talk about being more diverse

A business can't achieve workplace diversity and equality overnight. These concepts take time and effort.

Have open talks with your staff about how to present this in your workplace. Don't just follow key trends - ask them what changes work best.

Allow them to share their thoughts; and make sure you address every suggestion bought forward. Once you've collected all your diversity data, you'll be able to take positive action to initiate it.

Become an ally business

When it comes to equality and diversity in the workplace, you can't afford to be inactive.

Every organisation needs to take positive action and become an ally for promoting equality, and diversity.

There are many ways you can do this. From collecting recruitment data to joining social marches. In the end, your staff will respect your efforts towards creating an equal and diverse workplace.

Things to avoid when promoting workplace equality and diversity

There are some things to avoid when promoting workplace equality, diversity, and inclusion. For example:

Avoid making bias decisions

Unconscious bias is unfortunately part of human nature. It involves having prejudices against a person or certain groups.

Any form of unconscious biases shouldn't influence any business decisions. Remember, it's never acceptable for anyone to receive unfair treatment during work.

Focus on reducing discrimination that impacts the nine protected characteristics. (Age; disability; gender reassignment; marital and or civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; and sexual orientation).

Avoid hiring from the same pool

Businesses should also avoid narrowing down their recruitment searches.

For example, only hiring job applicants who studied at a certain school. This causes a restrictive factor for yourself - limiting you from the best talent.

Make sure everyone in your recruitment management roles are aware of your diversity and inclusion hiring methods.

Avoid direct and indirect discrimination

It's important to end any work practices or methods that show discrimination against people.

For example, having a 'clean shave' rule could discriminate against those who keep a beard for religious or cultural beliefs.

Manage all forms of workplace discrimination and harassment - from clients to your overall workforce.

Age, gender reassignment, or sexual orientation - it's unlawful to discriminate against any of the protected characteristics.

Is inclusion the same as equality and diversity?

No, inclusion isn't the same as equality and diversity.

Inclusion is all about a sense of belonging in a place or setting. Switch this to a workplace environment, it's about making employees feel welcome and valued.

For example, some employees have religious practices they follow every day, like praying. It’s up to your organisation to welcome these practices in the best way.

When you promote an inclusion culture, everyone feels respected at work. They'll achieve more for themselves, as well as the business. It all comes from a level of mutual respect and better understanding. In the end, you gain better staff retention and productivity.

But remember, a diverse workplace isn't automatically inclusive. And an inclusive workplace isn't always diverse.

Get expert advice on workplace equality and diversity with Peninsula

The key benefits from equality and diversity aren't just limited to employers. Your staff benefit from feeling valued and respected at work.

If you neglect equality and diversity, you could end up tarnishing your business. Employees may seek work elsewhere and your business won't be able to reach its true potential.

Peninsula offers expert advice on equality and diversity in the workplace. Our HR team offers unlimited 24/7 HR employment services which are available 365 days a year.

Want more information about the employment tribunal processes? Seek advice from one of our HR advisors. For further information, call our telephone number 0800 029 4389

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