Under the Equality Act 2010, employers have a responsibility to protect their workers from any form of harassment, discrimination and bullying in the workplace. However, we know that workplace inequality is still a major concern - across all industry sectors.
Research in 2020 by global HR and payroll firm ADP shows that over a quarter of UK workers have experienced discrimination. Worse still, over two thirds would feel uncomfortable raising a claim if it occurred.
What's more, cases heard by a tribunal alleging disability discrimination — which covers physical and mental health — jumped by 20% to 7,700 in 2020 compared to the previous year.
Employment law experts suggest workplace stress is driving up these claims, with individuals more willing to bring claims related to mental health issues caused by discrimination.
Discrimination should never be tolerated in the workplace and we should be working hard to ensure that diversity, inclusion, and equality are the top priorities for businesses.
To help, we have produced six best practice tips for promoting equality:
1. Identify and prevent unconscious bias
We all have unconscious biases, but if we don't acknowledge them, how can we tackle them?
To become aware of your own biases, take an Implicit Association Test (IAT). Pay particular attention to bias relating to the nine protected characteristics (e.g., age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage, pregnancy, race, religion, gender and sexual orientation) as this is discrimination.
2. Put equality policies in place
Everyone should be treated fairly in all day-to-day activities and work-related decisions (recruitment, training, promotion, allocating work, pay, etc.). A more diverse workforce can be more profitable too.
3. Mind your language
Check that all your communications are free of discriminatory and sexist language. Make sure you eradicate any sloppy language and stereotyping.
4. Use objective criteria
When recruiting, training and promoting, ensure you always make decisions based on merit and aren’t influenced by bias. Encourage group decision-making or conduct audits if there is a concern about a particular team, manager, or business unit.
5. Be proactive
We should be embracing people’s differences. Work to create equality in your organisation because it won’t just happen on its own. If no one steps up to change the status quo, these unconscious biases will continue to dictate in our workplaces.
Empower your employees to call out discriminatory behaviour or practices.
6. Get advice if needed
Your HR or Legal & Compliance departments will be able to offer sound advice on how to avoid unconscious bias or discrimination when making complex decisions such as terminating contracts or making people redundant, to ensure that the rules are followed correctly.
Equality isn't just about implementing procedures to stop workplace discrimination. That's the easy bit. The important part is to actively promote equality and inclusion, ensuring people are free to focus on what matters most: making your company the best it can be.
Take a look our own work promoting equality in the creative industry.