Equality and diversity are topics that are relevant in all organisations. Whether you have 3 or 300 employees, it is just as important. Wherever people are involved, discrimination can occur. Equality and diversity serve as the push towards everyone having the same opportunities through being treated in the same way, no matter what age, gender, or race you are.
The responsibility comes from nowhere else other than the organisation itself. If you actively promote equality and diversity throughout all areas of your business, it will thrive in the long-term due not only to the impact it has on the employees, but also the message you are giving out to potential customers and clients.
By following the rules and regulations out there, and creating an effective policy as a result, the business can reap the rewards as a result of complying. However, with only 5.5% of directors in the FTSE 100 from an ethnic minority, there is still clearly a long way to go on the road to diversity.
What Should You be Doing?
Efforts made towards diversity and equality can often get forgotten by the employers, highlighted by the fact that 41% of people in a recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management said the reason their company made very few diversity efforts was simply because they're "too busy" to do anything about it. This relaxed attitude needs to change by organisations being more proactive in their workplace management when it comes to diversity and equality.
The Equality Act 2010
The Act was introduced to the UK in order to eliminate unlawful discrimination, create equal opportunities, and promote good relations between people within the working environment no matter who they are.
By making it unlawful for employers to discriminate against workers, their level of responsibility is increased when it comes to dealing with prejudicial behaviour and making the adjustments needed so that everyone has access to the same opportunities.
All workplaces must comply with the Act and be seen as actively promoting equality and diversity among employees.
Most specifically, the Act focuses on 9 protected characteristics. An individual cannot be discriminated against due to any of these particular traits:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion and belief
- Sexual Orientation
The Importance of Diversity and Equality
A diverse workforce shouldn't be seen as an added extra when it comes to the priorities of a business. Diversity isn't an advantageous attribute, it should be a given. Including diversity and equality in the general business plan will benefit you in the long term, bringing you success.
Having a diverse company means that you are bringing in variety, which is always good. There is only so much an organisation can grow if everyone within it is the same. Having employees with the same traits, beliefs, and interests will only ever produce a limited workforce. Diversity brings in new ideas and new ways of thinking, both qualities that can strengthen your organisation.
In the UK, the working population is growing more varied in areas such as ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientations, so the workforce you are willing to take on needs to reflect the employees that are out there. If you have a business team that doesn't represent the population around you, then you are always going to be seen as out-of-date, which is seen as a negative quality for the majority of consumers out there.
The diversity of our country is something that the world of business should go hand-in-hand with. By having a current workforce that reflects the population, it is straight away seen as more attractive for customer and clients, but also for the workers out there. Workplace diversity means you have a range of people with a range of opinions, making it much easier for you to target a wide audience. Additionally, if you show off the fact you lead your business with priorities in diversity and equality, people will want to work for you as a result, and the more job candidates you are attracting, the more likely it is you will end up with the cream of the crop!