Wednesday 6 March 12pm UK

Many organisations discuss gender equality and promoting women, particularly older and more experienced women. But what does this look like in practice? What are the practical steps to supporting older women in the workplace, and how can barriers to success be overcome?

One highly effective strategy is making your organisation menopause friendly. Older women are one of the fastest growing in today’s workplace, and research has shown that nearly two-thirds of women have taken time off work due to their symptoms, with some even leaving their jobs due to not being supported in their workplace.

In this webinar, VinciWorks compliance experts will take you through the steps your organisation can take to become menopause friendly. From implementing a menopause leave policy to environmental factors affecting a workplace, this session will inform you on why making your organisation menopause friendly is a cost-effective, impactful and necessary initiative.

The webinar will feature an interview with Dr Rebecca Lewis from the highly respected Newson Health Menopause and Wellbeing Centre.

This session will cover:

  • The basics of menopause as a diversity and inclusion issue
  • Building a coalition for progressive menopause change in an organisation
  • Countering common myths, stigmas and stereotypes
  • Top tips for implementing a menopause leave policy
  • Tackling environmental, organisational and cultural factors on menopause

Register Now

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:

  1. Age
  2. Disability
  3. Gender reassignment
  4. Marriage and civil partnership
  5. Pregnancy and maternity
  6. Race
  7. Religion and belief
  8. Sex
  9. 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!

It may sound simple, but workplace discrimination occurs whenever discrimination takes place in the workplace. Discrimination can take place in any corner of society, with the workplace being a consistent area for problems to arise.

Discrimination means treating someone differently because of who they are and the qualities they possess. When this treatment is unfair and offensive, discrimination is taking place. Workplaces should be made up of people from different backgrounds in terms of age, sexuality, and race, but unfortunately this variation is the perfect place for discrimination to occur. Additionally, this can also lead to harassment and victimisation depending on what the perpetrator does following on from the discrimination.

Different Forms of Discrimination

There are different techniques of discriminating against someone: direct and indirect. Whilst “direct” means that someone is treated differently because of who they are, “indirect” means that a policy is set that applies to everyone, but it can have a negative impact on someone due to their qualities.

For example, if someone was being refused entry to a nightclub because they were Jewish it would be direct discrimination due to religion and belief. On the other hand, if a hair salon has a policy that means they refuse to employ stylists that cover their own hair, indirect discrimination would be occurring. This is because it means that a Muslim woman or Sikh man might be unable to apply for the position due to wearing headwear, so it is an example of indirect discrimination.

Whether discrimination is carried out directly or indirectly, the same nine terms are listed by the Equality Act 2010 as ‘protected categories’. In other words, if an individual is discriminated against because of them, the law is being broken – something that could lead to penalties such as fines and reputational damage for the business too.

The protected categories are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and Civil Partnerships
  • Pregnancy and Maternity
  • Race
  • Religion and Belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation

By having standards that organisations need to meet to combat workplace discrimination, consistency is achieved across all businesses so that employees and customers are treated fairly. By following these rules and regulations, companies are showing that they comply with equality and diversity, creating a better system all round.

Real-Life Workplace Discrimination

Pregnancy: Mary was six months pregnant. After ten years of working at an accounting firm, she applied for a senior position and was rejected, despite being the best candidate due to her experience and qualifications. When she asked the manager for feedback, he said he needed someone “more dedicated to the position”.

Because of her pregnancy and impending maternity leave, she was discriminated against, causing the employer to see her as a less reliable worker.

Disability: Tom worked in a toy shop and had a physical disability that prevented him from carrying heavy items. He discovered that his co-workers were on a higher salary despite having the same experience and workloads. When he asked his manager about it, she said it was because he didn’t do as much within the business. Limitations in some aspects of the job caused the manager to see Tom as a less valuable member of staff, discriminating against him because of his disability.

Our Equality and Diversity Courses

The UK legislation for equality and diversity comes predominantly in the form of the Equality Act 2010. It replaced the previous legislation that was in place, creating one general act to follow instead of lots of smaller ones. The act pushes for a consistency across the board, so that employees and employers all comply with the laws to create fairer workplaces all over the country.

As well as this, the Commission of Equality and Human Rights (EHRC) and Human Rights Act of 1998 exist to reduce inequality and discrimination, both problems that crop up in the workplace.

Equality Act 2010

The act brings together over 116 separate pieces of legislation in an attempt to simplify and strengthen the legislation. The act provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equal opportunities for all, protecting individuals from unfair treatment.

It promotes equality in the areas of 9 protected characteristics, also known as general duties to promote equality. The nine main pieces of legislation that have merged cover topics such as gender, race, disability and sexual orientation:

  • The Equal Pay Act 1970
  • The Sex Discrimination Act 1975
  • The Race Relations Act 1976
  • The Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
  • The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
  • The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
  • The Equality Act 2006, Part 2
  • The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

The EHRC joined up the work of the previous equality organisations, the Commission of Racial Equality, the Disability Rights Commission, and the Equal Opportunities Commission.

It challenges prejudice and promotes the importance of human rights, enforcing the equality laws around age, disability, gender, race, religion and sexual orientation and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act.

The Commission seeks to maintain and strengthen the UK’s history of upholding people’s rights, valuing diversity and challenging intolerance, as well as tackling the areas where there is still discrimination and inequality, such as the workplace.

Human Rights Act 1998

The act sets out the rights and freedoms that everyone in the UK is entitled to. It links to the Eur#opean Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and bring it into domestic UK law. The act is set out as ‘Articles’, with each one dealing with a different right; they are often known as the convention rights:

  • Article 2: Right to life
  • Article 3: Freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment
  • Article 4: Freedom from slavery and forced labour
  • Article 5: Right to liberty and security
  • Article 6: Right to a fair trial
  • Article 7: No punishment without law
  • Article 8: Respect for your private and family life, home and correspondence
  • Article 9: Freedom of thought, belief and religion
  • Article 10: Freedom of expression
  • Article 11: Freedom of assembly and association
  • Article 12: Right to marry and start a family
  • Article 14: Protection from discrimination in respect of these rights and freedoms
  • Protocol 1, Article 1: Right to peaceful enjoyment of your property
  • Protocol 1, Article 2: Right to education
  • Protocol 1, Article 3: Right to participate in free elections
  • Protocol 13, Article 1: Abolition of the death penalty

The changes it brings means that you can take your case to a court in the UK rather than heading to the European court of human rights in France. It also means that public bodies such as the police and schools have standards they need to meet in order to respect your human rights.

The Importance of Equality and Diversity Legislation in the Workplace

The importance of this legislation cannot be stressed enough. By having standards that organisations need to meet, there is a consistency throughout the whole process so that customers are treated fairly wherever they go.

By companies following these rules and regulations, they are showing that they comply with equality and diversity, creating a better system all round.

Promoting equality and diversity in the workplace means that companies can gain a more flexible and adaptive corporate culture by accessing a broader variety of worldviews and problem-solving styles. Another positive is that diverse workforces are perceived as more appealing to potential employees and customers.

It’s not always easy to tell whether a company has a diversity program, but companies that want to promote diversity take the extra step of scrutinizing their own policies and strategies to determine whether they are really doing everything they can to create a diverse workforce.

Our Equality and Diversity Courses

The UK legislation around equality and diversity comes in the form of the Equality Act 2010. Hailed as a landmark in the topic of discrimination legislation, it works to protect people from discrimination in the workplace (as well as in wider society). The act pushes for a consistency across the business world so that employees and employers all comply with the laws to create fairer workplaces up and down the country.

The act impacts everyone to make sure that employers create policies that are compliant. However, it tends to be the smaller companies that are less likely to have a clear anti-discrimination policy, so the act has a greater impact on them. The aim is to ensure employers and employees benefit from a much fairer working environment as a result.

Elements of the Equality Act

The act brings together over 116 separate pieces of legislation in an attempt to simplify and strengthen the rules around the topic. The act provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and push for equal opportunities for all in an attempt to protect employees from unfair treatment.

This ‘unfair treatment’ can come in the following forms:

  • Direct discrimination: Treating people less favourably than others
  • Indirect discrimination: Creating rules that apply to everyone, but actually put some at a disadvantage/in an uncomfortable position as a result
  • Harassment: Unwanted behaviour that violates someone’s dignity or creates an offensive environment for them
  • Victimisation: Treating someone unfairly if they’ve complained about discrimination

It promotes equality in the areas of 9 protected characteristics, also known as general duties to promote equality, and 9 of the main legislations that were incorporated into the act.

  • The Equal Pay Act 1970
  • The Sex Discrimination Act 1975
  • The Race Relations Act 1976
  • The Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
  • The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
  • The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
  • The Equality Act 2006, Part 2
  • The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007

As you can see, the main focuses of this act are the issues of age, disability, gender, race, religion and sexual orientation. Additionally from these issues, pregnancy and marriage could cause someone to be discriminated against. Anywhere that a quality can be used against someone to make them feel uncomfortable or ‘singled out’ is where discrimination can occur – something that prevents equality and diversity from being prominent within the workforce.

The Equality Act and You

The Act pushes for an increased transparency in payslips by making the secrecy clauses unenforceable. In other words, the firm can’t make the clauses secret, so can’t really stop people from talking about what they earn. These rules used to be included in a lot of contracts, attempting to prevent employees from discussing their pay, because discussing salary highlights the pay gap between men and women. By making pay much more transparent, the pay gap can be narrowed.

The Act also prevents employers from requesting a health form before offering the individual the position. This then prevents the decision being made on factors other than your work capability and skill.

Employment tribunals are another element of the Act that have a big impact on individuals. If an employee makes a claim, rather than just receiving financial compensation as a result, the response goes as far as making recommendations to the employer. This equates to a greater change because the employer is more likely to alter their behaviour if they are told to assess their policies and introduce employee training.

Compliant Culture

The importance of this Act cannot be stressed enough. By having national standards that organisations need to meet, a consistency is created throughout the whole process so that customers are treated fairly wherever they go.

By companies following these rules and regulations, they are showing that they comply with equality and diversity, creating a better system all round.

Promoting equality and diversity in the workplace means that companies can gain a more flexible and adaptive corporate culture by accessing a broader variety of worldviews and problem-solving styles. Another positive is that diverse workforces are perceived as more appealing to potential employees and customers.

Companies that want to push for diversity take the extra steps of scrutinizing their own policies and strategies to determine whether they are really doing everything they can to recruit a more varied workforce.

Starbucks 2016

Starbucks was shamed for discrimination recently when an employee won a disability case after she was accused of falsifying documents.

Meseret Kumulchew was discriminated when she made some written mistakes due to having dyslexia – mistakes that resulted in a big step down as she was told to retrain as well as being given simpler duties as they accused her of falsifying the documents.

The tribunal revealed that Starbucks had failed to make reasonable adjustments for her disability and therefore discriminated against her because of the actions that were a result of her dyslexia. It was also stressed that she was victimised by her employer.

The result is that Starbucks are in discussions around the idea of supplying more workplace support. Giving the employee longer to learn each task is exactly how they could have coped with this simply, something Ms Kumulchew says would have helped considerably.

Equality and diversity are topics relevant in any workplace, of any size, whether you have a handful of employees or a few hundred! Whenever groups of people are put together, discrimination can occur. Equality and diversity push for everyone to have the same opportunities through being treated in the same way, no matter what age, gender, or race.

The responsibility comes from nowhere else other than the organisation itself, which is where training comes into the picture. If you actively promote equality and diversity throughout all areas of your business, the business itself will thrive in the long run not only because of the change it will cause throughout the workforce, but also the message you are giving out to potential customers and clients about the type of business you are.

Efforts made towards diversity and equality can often be forgotten by employers, a fact that is highlighted by the fact that 41% of people admitted their company made very few diversity efforts simply because they’re “too busy”, according to a recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management.

This attitude needs to be changed by organisations being more proactive in their workplace management when it comes to diversity and equality through offering staff training. By following the rules and regulations out there, and creating an effective policy as a result, your business can reap the rewards.

The Importance of Training

An equality and diversity policy should apply to every aspect of the working process. From recruitment, salaries and benefits, right through to discipline procedures, promotion opportunities and after work activities. Your job is to have a protocol ready to cover all situations so that inequality never has the chance to thrive anywhere within your business. Once your policy is written down it makes it much easier to follow so that your employees will always have confidence in your commitment towards improving diversity.

Staff training is the perfect way to create a workforce made up of people with the consistent level of understanding and respect needed to tackle inequality and discrimination. By informing employees about the types of discrimination out there, the contents of the Equality Act, and the standards that need to be met, the business will run smoother all round. By helping you to promote a fairer, more tolerant and diverse working environment, the training really can have a huge impact on the general attitudes within the company.

Training should start from the top of the company and work its way down, covering all areas of the business structure. Whether it is the senior managers or a summer intern student, the compliance around diversity needs to be stressed to everyone in the workplace, because at the end of the day everyone has a responsibility to support equality and diversity.

Setting an Example

Google’s head of diversity and inclusion for Europe and the Middle Eastern region says the key step is to challenge the structure of the level just below the senior executives and managers, because they are the board members of the future, so they’ll be holding the influence in years to come. Google is aiming for the 50:50 level of men and women, a good example to be setting in their industry.

In 2011, they created a project called CodeF, a career development programme for women, specifically undergraduate computer scientists. The project aimed to increase the number of women working in the technology industry through professional mentoring.

CodeF is just one way that companies can spread the word about diversity, and with Google using this technique by giving women more opportunities, as well as staff training and having suitable policies ready and waiting, progress is being made to make diverse and equal workforces the ‘norm’.

Some related Equality and Diversity Courses

The importance of equality and diversity within the workplace is something that cannot be stressed enough. Meeting the expected standards in order to comply with legislation means that companies are not only benefiting themselves, but also their customers and clients.
By following these rules and regulations, companies are not only creating a fairer system all round, but also building a business that is more appealing to their audience.
It should be expected that business environments are free from discrimination, harassment and victimisation but, unfortunately, this isn’t always the reality once you start to delve behind the scenes of a company.
Not only does it impact the people within the business, but also the customers of the business. If the company has a diverse workforce, they’ll likely be more diverse in terms of the customers they work with.
‘Variety is the spice of life’ – a statement that couldn’t be more applicable than in the workplace. If you actively promote equality and diversity (and have a policy to match) then your business will thrive, and people of all backgrounds can come together, whether they work for you or are your customers. If you aren’t willing to employ a range of people, you are automatically limiting which customers you can appeal to, something that ultimately limits your long-term success.
Only through having a diverse workplace can you reflect your customers and clients. If your workforce matches up with the demographic you’re serving, then you’re showing an awareness of your current society. If you have a range of people working for you with a range of opinions then it makes it much easier to target a wider range of clients, which brings you profit by increasing your market, but also affects the consumers out there by providing them with an inclusive and diverse business.

The Customer Need for Compliance:
Efforts made towards diversity and equality can often end up being forgotten by the employers, something that impacts their customers too. 41% of people in a recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management said their company was “too busy” to prioritise diversity. This attitude needs to be changed by organisations being more proactive in their workplace management when it comes to diversity and equality. By doing this, it’s not only the business employees that benefit, but also the customers.
The Equality Act 2010
The Act was introduced in the UK to eliminate unlawful discrimination, create equal opportunities, and promote good relations between people in a workforce. It also makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against workers. It pushes employers to be more responsible when it comes to dealing with discriminatory behaviour and making the necessary adjustments so that everyone has the same opportunities.
Most specifically, the Act defines 9 protected characteristics that people can’t discriminate against:

  1. Age
  2. Disability
  3. Gender reassignment
  4. Marriage and civil partnership
  5. Pregnancy and maternity
  6. Race
  7. Religion and belief
  8. Sex
  9. Sexual Orientation

A diverse workforce shouldn’t be seen as an added extra that customers look for when it comes to business, it should be a given. Including diversity and equality in the general business plan will benefit you in the long term.
In the UK, the population is growing more varied in terms of ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and religions, so the workforce you are willing to take on needs to reflect the employees that are out there. Additionally, the workforce needs to reflect the customers you are serving in order to create an efficient customer service. If you have a business team that doesn’t represent the customers, then you will struggle to ever build up a strong enough network of customers willing to invest in you because you just appear to be out of touch with current affairs.
We know that diversity and inclusion is good for business. Research by McKinsey & Co found that a business with a healthy balance of men and women in the workforce is likely to outperform their competitors by 15%, whilst a group with a mixture of ethnic backgrounds is 35% more likely. Plus, for every 1% increase in gender diversity, there is a company revenue increase of 3%.
These statistics are simple. Diversity increases revenue, and increased revenue means more customers – so increased diversity leads to more customers. Customers clearly want diversity, so a business promoting those qualities is giving customers exactly what they want.

Some related Equality and Diversity Courses

Related Courses

Equality is about ensuring that everybody has an equal opportunity, at home, work, and in society, and that each person is not treated differently or discriminated against because of their characteristics.
Equality of opportunity means that everybody has an equal chance to take up opportunities, as well as being able to make full use of the opportunities on offer and to fulfil their potential. In simpler terms, whatever your age, race, gender, you should still have the opportunity to reach your potential within the world of work according to the equality of opportunity.
Equality of opportunity is still a work in progress. As an example of this at play; in 2019 in the UK women earned 17.3% less than men did in the same year. This means that for every £1 a man earned, women earned 83p. Black and minority ethnic groups face challenges surrounding unconscious bias which may result in companies missing out on incredible talent. Additionally, part-time, temporary and shift workers may not be able to access the correct training or opportunities to progress up the ranks at work.
Diversity is about taking account of the differences between people within a group and placing a positive value on those differences. A workforce should be built up of people that all look different, think differently, and have different beliefs. By creating this variation, you have a much more efficient business in the long run due to playing off different people’s strengths.
This is strongly linked with promoting human rights and freedoms, based on principles such as dignity and respect. Diversity is all about recognising and valuing the different backgrounds of individuals as well as their knowledge, skills, and experiences, and using those differences to create a productive workforce.
Diversity is something that applies to everyone and should be part of everything we do. Remember, none of us fit neatly into separate categories which can be labelled or discriminated against. Just because one person is different from another, doesn’t mean they should be discriminated against for it.

Inequality in the Workplace

  • Black workers have fewer training opportunities than white workers
  • Sometimes the longer you are in the job, the less training you receive due to employers becoming ‘comfortable’ with you, causing older workers to be limited
  • Manual workers and workers with few qualifications are often overlooked when a training opportunity comes up
  • Part-time and temporary workers are often left behind when training is on offer as employers see more value in the permanent employees; women make up the majority of part-time workers
  • Depending on your first language, you could struggle because workers with English as a second language may find that the only jobs open to them are manual with low skill requirements

The Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act 2010 is the main legislation when it comes to the topic of discrimination. Its main focus is that people are protected from discrimination on these grounds:

  1. Age
  2. Disability
  3. Gender reassignment
  4. Marriage and civil partnership
  5. Pregnancy and maternity
  6. Race
  7. Religion and belief
  8. Sex
  9. Sexual Orientation

All these issues can crop up in the workplace and as a result, businesses have to meet the standards of the Act in order to remain compliant. By doing so, they benefit through maintaining a diverse workforce, as well as creating an attractive business to customers due to their attitudes about the topic.
By having standards that organisations need to meet when it comes to diversity and equality, there is consistency across the board so that customers are treated fairly wherever they go. If companies follow the rules and regulations, they are showing that they comply with creating a diverse workplace, creating a fairer system all round.
The result is that companies gain a more flexible and adaptive corporate culture through having a variety of employees, all offering different opinions and ideas. Another positive is that diverse workforces are perceived as more appealing to potential employees and customers.
We offer a range of CPD-certified, equality and diversity online training courses which are designed to teach your managers and employees about the different types of discrimination in the workplace, understand topics such as unconscious bias, and how to advocate for a respectful and inclusive workplace. These courses range from 1 hour to 10 minute-short courses and are beneficial for every team member.

Related Courses

Some related Equality and Diversity Courses

Equality and diversity are essential when it comes to health and social care. Good equality and diversity practices means that a fair and accessible service is provided for everyone. The legislation ensures people can be treated as equals with dignity and respect. Additionally, it stresses that the differences people have are celebrated rather than condemned. Equality and diversity shouldn’t be seen as an extra benefit, but as an expected element to the entire system.

Equality and Diversity in Health and Social Care

In a health and social care organisation, it’s important that equality and diversity are at forefront of what they do. Everyone will have contact with the services in one way or another, as people from all backgrounds rely on them at some point in their lives.

The service users are all individual people with different traits. Providers should always strive to make sure their diverse needs are met and ensure they have equal access to their services. This is particularly important for adults with a disability, an illness, or if they’re limited by their age. All these factors could make them unable to take care for themselves.

Promoting equality and diversity in the workplace is primarily concerned with preventing discrimination. Sometimes your environment may be discriminating against a patient accidentally, particularly if the patient is vulnerable because of their health, age, or disability – so having an awareness of the potential barriers and how to remove them is essential.

Relevant Legislation

There are four key laws specifically relating to health and social care when it comes to equality and diversity:

  • The Equality Act 2010 – This is the legislation surrounding the topics of equality and diversity. It covers all areas of society, including health and social care. Whatever the sector, it works off the structure of nine protected characteristics. These are age, disability, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex, gender reassignment and sexual orientation.
  • The Human Rights Act 1998 – This legislation outlines the basic human rights and principles of equality. The Act has five main principles: Fairness, Respect, Equality, Dignity and Autonomy.
  • The Mental Capacity Act 2005 – The Act aims to help people who are unable to maintain their independence, dignity and the right to freedom. The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) aid vulnerable individuals to maintain their right to dignity and equality.
  • The Care Act 2014 – This legislation underpins all work with vulnerable adults. This includes ensuring that adults give consent for support that is tailored to them and chosen by them.

For equality and diversity to really become part of your health and social care setting, every member of the team needs to fully understand the relevant legislation, principles and practices. Until a consistent level of understanding is reached, it can be difficult to get people involved in supporting and promoting it.

Make sure you have an efficient equality and diversity policy that people have read and understand; that way they can comply with the aims. Similarly, ensure that everyone is appropriately trained in Equality and Diversity in Health and Social Care, the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards and Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults.

Encourage staff members to think about what matters to each person in your setting, so that you can provide the best care for the individual so that you’ll always be prioritising equality and diversity matters.

Evolution of Nursing in the NHS

In the 1950s there were many challenges for women in the nursing profession. Nursing was a gender segregated profession. It was physically hard work, with high levels of commitment and anti-social working hours. The accepted attitude at the time was that married women would give up work to concentrate on looking after husbands and families. They weren’t seen as being able to have a family as well as a professional career.

Present day nursing is still tough in many ways, despite feminist movements and successive campaigns from organisations like the Royal College of Nursing pushing for progressive legislation and changing attitudes.

The numbers of women in nursing roles has remained high, with women making up three-quarters of the NHS workforce, but they are still under-represented in senior leadership roles. This fact, teamed with the it being revealed that only 2.5% of NHS executives and chair leaders are from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, illustrates that the push for diversity and equality in the health and social care sector is far from over.

Our Equality and Diversity Courses

Related Courses

The Equality Act 2010 is the legislation surrounding the topics of equality and diversity. This can cover all areas of society, but whatever the area, it works on the basis of nine protected characteristics:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnerships
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion and belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

The Act includes a public sector equality duty. This requires public bodies, including education institutions, to:

  • Prioritise the need to eliminate discrimination, harassment, and victimisation
  • Advance equality of opportunity
  • Foster good relations between people with different traits listed as protected characteristics

To achieve this, institutions need to remove or minimise the disadvantages suffered by people from the relevant groups by taking steps to meet their needs and encourage them to participate in group activities. All of this can be tackled by combatting prejudice and promoting understanding between people with differences. These solutions can be particularly effective in educational settings such as schools and universities.
The UK’s education sector is required to work in accordance with the European Convention of Human Rights to make sure they are meeting the standards expected of them. This means pushing for:

  • Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
  • Freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions
  • Freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association with others


What Does This Mean for Education?
Academic staff have a responsibility to deliver teaching and learning that meets the required standards mentioned above. This could mean paying attention to the needs of the students, ensuring you consider inclusivity and accessibility. Additionally, make it clear to students that you have a zero tolerance policy toward discrimination by letting them know the ways you expect them to interact with each other, and deal promptly and efficiently with inappropriate behaviour if it ever occurs. By finding opportunities within your teaching to prompt students to work collaboratively in diverse groups through creative and respectful techniques, you can add value to the learning experience for everyone.
Promoting equality and diversity in education is essential for teachers, academics and students. The aim is to create a learning environment where all students can thrive together and understand that individual characteristics make people unique and not ‘different’ in a negative way. By stressing this message from early education onwards, it will have an impact on how they treat others right through to higher education such as university degrees or apprenticeships, and beyond.
Dangerous Problem
Discrimination is essentially bullying – something that is all too common in education surroundings such as in school playgrounds.
One 13-year-old girl was bullied due to having autism, a condition that put her within the disability category of the protected characteristics in the Equality Act. Fellow pupils called her names due to her mental health condition, which was present from early childhood and characterised by great difficulty in communicating with others and forming relationships. She not only endured abusive language but was also physically attacked. The perpetrators saw her condition as a difference to exploit.
She told her parents, who complained to the school about the problem. They felt the teachers’ response was inadequate and didn’t stop the bullying. The situation caused her to feel depressed and isolated, feelings that led to self-harming, and she was forced to move schools as a result.
This highlights how important it is for the education sector to push for diversity and equality. In this case, the school let the girl down and she suffered significant distress due to having to switch schools to escape the problem. Additionally, she may have left the bullies behind, but with her self-esteem at rock bottom and the prominence of social media, the issue wasn’t easily ‘fixed’. The problem should have been dealt with at its source (the bullies) much quicker, to prevent it from getting that serious in the first place.
Equality and diversity legislation such as the Equality Act 2010 needs to be followed closely within education. All people have the right to education without facing discrimination. Following the available guidelines will allow for educational diversity to become the ‘norm’ expected throughout all educational settings.

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