Creating a fairer Britain
The Equality Act came into force on 1 October 10. Some of the information on this page may be out of date.
Britain has a hugely diverse workforce, with a rich balance of skills, experience and ways of working. Most people know it would be a mistake to make assumptions about how a person will perform in a role on the basis of their gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or disability status. For individuals who experience discrimination, this can be hugely damaging. But it also has consequences for the teams and organisations around them.
The documents below display the business benefits of workforce diversity and provide guidance on how, as an employer, you can achieve high standards of good practice.
The Commission has launched good practice guidelines to increase employment and local business opportunities created by London 2012.
Based on our research findings, these guidelines represent what we consider to be the key drivers to promote good equality and diversity practice. London 2012 has the potential to address persistent inequalities in some of the most disadvantaged communities in the UK. The Commission will be working with key stakeholders to ensure that equality outcomes form part of the legacy.
In today's global, knowledge economy, an organisation's success and competitiveness depends upon its ability to embrace diversity and to draw upon the skills, understanding and experience of all people.
The CBI and TUC, supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission have been working together to produce a guide to workplace diversity called 'Talent not Tokenism'. The guide provides advice on how to identify, nurture and promote talent. It contains good practice case studies of employers who have created a more diverse workforce and describes the benefits of doing so.
Published June 2008
Discrimination, whether conscious or not, limits an organisation's ability to get the best from its workforce.
Employers who promote equality of opportunity among their workforce can draw on a wider pool of talent and experience, and create an environment where employees are valued and supported, and appreciate their colleagues’ contribution. A climate where unlawful discrimination is fostered, condoned or ignored cannot provide these benefits.
Employers who are not convinced of the benefits of promoting equality for its own sake must still consider the possibility that an employee or former employee will seek to make a claim against the organisation.
Employers who directly discriminate are obviously vulnerable, but so are employers who act capriciously and arbitrarily, who cannot objectively justify their decisions and who conduct themselves in a manner which falls below that generally expected in a modern employment context.
All this can lead employees to feel that they have been discriminated against and, without convincing evidence to the contrary, an employment tribunal may accept that belief as being likely to be correct and make a finding of unlawful discrimination against the employer.
Whatever the outcome of discrimination hearings, the process is stressful and is likely to be costly in time and money.
If a finding of discrimination is made against you, you face the possibility of potentially unlimited compensation being awarded to your former employee. And a public finding of discrimination, possibly coupled with criticism of your decisions or procedures in a tribunal's judgment, is not a good advertisement for any company. It could have an adverse effect on recruitment as well as on existing or potential customers. It could also have an adverse effect on your ability to win or keep public sector contracts.
Employers who value older workers' skills and experience are better placed to emerge from the recession, experts told an international conference in London on age diversity in the downturn organised by TAEN - The Age and Employment Network - for the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Addressing the conference, called Age Diversity in the Downturn: Business Benefits of Creative Approaches to Age Management, Dr Nicola Brewer, Chief Executive of the Commission also sounded a warning that the economic downturn must not be used as an excuse to justify making redundancies on grounds of age.