What Is Equality & Diversity?
Definition: Equality is ensuring individuals or groups of individuals are not treated differently or less favourably, on the basis of their specific protected characteristic, including areas of race, gender, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation and age.
There are various discrimination acts that force companies to meet the minimum requirements. These include:
- Equality Act
- Human Rights Act
- Race Relations Act
- Sex Discrimination Act
- Disability Discrimination Act
If a company practices a good equality policy, it should remove discrimination in all of the aforementioned areas. This is something all businesses are legally inclined to adhere to. Bullying, harassment or victimization are considered as discriminative activity.
Being diverse and equal is a vital part of a successful and thriving company culture which creates an environment that staff will want to be a part of resulting in better productivity and ultimately better results for the organisation.
Once a good equality and diversity policy has been implemented, you will likely notice a big reduction of staff-related issues and conflicts relating to this area of policy. The policy works to limit issues within the workplace and maintain a healthy work environment for all individuals.
Staff should have a clear understanding of the policy and know who to speak to with concerns. For any organisation to be successful everyone should be able to work together and share ideas, add value and be valued for what they bring to the company no matter their background.
How Does It Affect Employees?
Without the burden of inequality, the staff are able to be more confident and be happy to share their unique qualities, celebrate differences, boost performance and create a happier place to work. As a result, this will make expressing ideas a lot easier and therefore you should find your team becoming more creative and driven in how much they add to the company. This will result in the team being more innovative, as ideas are being shared and improvements are being suggested frequently. The goal is to create a space where employees can speak freely within reason without fearing for their job or reputation. Efficiency will improve, employees will take pride in their work and staff retention will improve within the company. Boosting employee engagement is also important – you need a group of people working as part of the same jigsaw puzzle, not several separate entities which will only cause isolation and other issues.
How Does It Benefit The Company?
There are also many benefits of practicing good equality and diversity for the employer. Aside from what we’ve mentioned above, you have the advantage of receiving ideas from a range of individuals and difference perspectives that can make your business stand out from the rest. As a business you can utilise the knowledge of people with different backgrounds, skills and experiences. As the atmosphere will be more relaxed and happier, the staff will be more motivated to succeed, and you will see a difference in the overall team performance.
Embracing diversity helps towards having a great company reputation. It will be very attractive to prospective candidates and can help you stand out as the better, safer, open minded, tolerant and more forward-thinking choice of employer. A wider talent pool will be available to you as failing to embrace diversity will limit your choice of candidates significantly.
Tips for Implementation
To ensure the policy is continually enforced, educate your staff and make sure it is kept up to date. Inform them of any changes and make sure positive behaviour is encouraged.
Keep an eye out for any activities / practices, even offensive language that violates the policy and aim to resolve it with as little damage as possible. Have a zero toleration policy, hold a strong opinion on correct conduct and make it known there will be consequences for discrimination, with no exceptions.
It is not just employees’ attitude and behaviour towards each other that you need to consider, it is every aspect of how this effects the business. For example, is the working environment accessible for everyone including those with disabilities that may affect mobility? Are flexible working hours available for those with family commitments? Is every employee given the same opportunities for progression and development, regardless of age or gender? This must be considered when training or promotion is on offer. Take time to review all the corners of the business and ensure you are meeting or ideally exceeding all the guidelines.
The enforcement of equality and diversity recognises human rights within our community. Every individual should be given the chance to achieve their potential, in the workplace and every other aspect of society in order to lead a happy, fulfilling and successful life.