When can equality in the workplace stop things being equal?

Equality and discrimination are currently hot topics that are being regularly discussed and reviewed to create greater opportunities for all in the workplace. Many companies are being proactive and focusing on these areas, but can it become too much?

Creating a bigger focus on cutting out any discrimination is something the country are putting a lot of funding into which means change is on the way. An Economics Consultancy survey found that discrimination costs the UK £127bn every year with £123bn of that coming only from gender discrimination. Showing there is still a lot more areas that could be focused on.

McKinsey & Company (2015) confirmed ‘New research makes it increasingly clear that companies with more diverse workforce’s perform better financially.’ With this awareness and increasing laws coming into lace there is a real pressure on companies and individuals to comply to meet the needs of everyone, but achieving diversity is not always easy.

Have you had a discussion with your team on how you could bring equality and diversity in to your working environment?

Achieving this and the issue of positive discrimination was in the spotlight in 2016 when a presenter and award-winning comedian Jon Holmes claimed he had been sacked for being a white man. After appearing on Radio 4’s The Now Show for 18 years, he claimed he had been recast with “more women and diversity”, is this the correct way to make a change? Of course not, not only does this impact negatively on the company and those already working in the business, but it can also have a negative impact on the new members you have recruited into your team. Positive discriminating to recruit a diverse workforce is never the answer.

Sir Trevor McDonald, Britain’s first black newsreader, said “I think it would be horrible to be the person who gets the job because of positive discrimination,” he said at a BAFTA event, “and to have everybody in the room look around and say I know exactly why he or she has got that job, that’s awful. I’m a great believer in meritocracy.

So, rather than get caught up in Positive Discrimination, companies and recruiters should focus on taking Positive Action and implement measures that are fair and which focus on someone’s ability to do the job. An employer can take steps to help or encourage certain groups of people with different needs, or who are disadvantaged in some way, access work or training and this is lawful under the Equality Act. For example, an employer could organise an open day for people from a particular ethnic background if they’re under-represented in the employer’s workforce. This wouldn’t be unlawful discrimination under the Act.

When selecting candidates or people for positions in your business your view of the person for the role should never become clouded – no matter if they are white, black, male or female. Using frameworks such as Maxwell Drummond’s Success Criteria could enable your company to focus purely on the key criteria that you want for the position rather than judging someone on their background or appearance. The Success Criteria can be tailored to each position and person to meet the needs of your company and will also support candidates in understanding the correct way to explain and sell their skills when applying for jobs.

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