Everyone should have the right to be free of any direct or indirect discrimination and harassment or bullying, and the Equality Act 2010 was introduced to set minimum standards for individuals to have the right to be treated fairly.
So, what can employers actively be doing to end discrimination in the workplace?
1. Build inclusive workplaces
There are many benefits to an employer taking equality, diversity and inclusion seriously. Research shows employers who have inclusive workplace cultures are more likely to attract and retain employees because employees want to feel respected and valued for who they are and their contribution to the business. This can be particularly crucial for employers in health and social care sectors where employees are likely to come from a wide range of cultural, social and economic backgrounds. Employers could look to set up small groups within the workplace to be the voice of employees that will spearhead and implement changes, including challenging exclusionary behaviour.
2. Ensure there’s a level playing field
Building a zero-discrimination workplace needs to start from the top, so it’s important senior managers undertake regular equality, diversity and inclusion training and development to carry out people management practices effectively and ensure they are not biased towards any one group of individuals from the hiring stage to progression. Managers need to ensure they are supporting the individual needs of their employees and address any bias. As a business, employers should be regularly reviewing progression and hiring data to monitor any patterns of bias so that they can be addressed.
3. Develop self-awareness
One effective way of ending discrimination is to encourage all employees to develop their own self-awareness that everyone has a right to live a full life with dignity regardless of age, gender, sexuality etc. Encouraging self-awareness enables individuals to reflect on their own attitudes and behaviours towards others and to celebrate each other’s differences without judgement.
4. Review policies and procedures
Most businesses will have policies in place which set out procedures in relation to equality and diversity, and anti-bullying and harassment. However, simply having the policies in place is not enough and they need to be continually reviewed to ensure that the business is doing what it says it will do and updated in line with any changes to the business or employment laws.
5. Employee engagement
As mentioned above, one of the key ways to change culture is by communication and employee engagement. It is important, therefore, that employers evaluate the behaviours of their employees and address issues when they arise. It’s also important to encourage employees to be open and honest about discrimination and employers should ensure they have an open-door culture, which allows employees to discuss issues without judgement.