On the run-up to International Women’s Day ViewHR are exploring the topic of #EmbracingEquality. The first of our four-part series discussed challenging gender stereotypes; today we will give thought to calling out discrimination.
In the United Kingdom the term ‘discrimination’ is defined in law under the Equality Act 2010. The legislation notes that discrimination is when someone is treated unfairly for any of the protected characteristics as highlighted below:
- gender reassignment
- marriage and civil partnership
- pregnancy and maternity
- race (including colour, nationality, ethnic and national origin)
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
The UK Government provides specific forms in which someone can be discriminated against:
Direct discrimination – treating someone with a protected characteristic less favourably than others.
Indirect discrimination – putting rules or arrangements in place that apply to everyone, but that put someone with a protected characteristic at an unfair disadvantage.
Harassment – unwanted behaviour linked to a protected characteristic that violates someone’s dignity or creates an offensive environment for them.
Victimisation – treating someone unfairly because they’ve complained about discrimination or harassment.
It is important to be aware that the Equality Act is not specific to employment, in fact every citizen is protected under the legislation. For organisations, this means that all staff are safeguarded from discrimination from day one.
What can employers do to ‘call out discrimination’?
Develop and enforce equal opportunities policies: Employers should develop clear and comprehensive equal opportunities policies that set out what is unacceptable behaviour in the workplace, and the consequences of breaching those policies, often using the disciplinary procedure.
Provide training and education: Employers should provide training and education to employees on discrimination, unconscious bias, and appropriate workplace behaviour.
Encourage employees to report discrimination: Employers should encourage employees to report any incidents of discrimination or harassment, and provide multiple avenues for reporting, such as a confidential hotline or an online reporting system.
Investigate and respond to complaints: Employers should investigate any complaints of discrimination or harassment promptly, fairly, and confidentially, and take appropriate action if necessary.
Create a culture of inclusion: Employers should create a culture of inclusion where everyone feels valued and respected, and where discrimination is not tolerated. This can include promoting diversity and inclusion, providing opportunities for professional development, and celebrating differences.
By taking these steps, employers can help to create a workplace where discrimination is not tolerated, and where all employees are valued and respected, regardless of their background, ethnicity, gender, or any other personal characteristic.
In the third part of our series we will consider: ‘drawing attention to bias’.