Equality and Diversity – what does this really mean?
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Equality and Diversity – what does this really mean?

This phrase, ‘Equality and Diversity’ is used daily in organisations and yet perhaps not fully understood or implemented. It’s not always clear what the difference is or how you can help to make positive changes. In our leadership and management roles it’s  essential that we’re clear and know how to improve future working practices.

What’s the difference between Equality and Diversity?

Equality of opportunity is about ensuring everybody has an equal chance to take up opportunities and also to make full use of the opportunities on offer and to fulfil their potential.

Diversity is about celebrating and valuing how different we all are. This is strongly linked with promoting human rights and freedoms, based on principles such as dignity and respect. Diversity is about valuing and taking account of people’s different backgrounds. It’s important to then encourage and use those differences to create a productive and effective workforce.

So how are we doing? – here are some (not so good) examples

Why should we care?

We should care because it’s the law and mistakes can be costly! However there are many other reasons. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills has produced a report on the Business Case for Equality and Diversity. (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-business-case-for-equality-and-diversity-a-survey-of-the-academic-literature). which includes potential advantages. For example, having staff with roots in other countries and cultures can help a firm build relations with a wider range of customers. This means they can market its products or services more appropriately and sensitively.  Enhancing its brand reputation is a driver for some companies.  This helps to widen the possible pool of applicants so the best candidate is selected for the job and  retention of current staff is improved as employees are proud of their place of work.

What can we do?

Legislation (such as the Equality Act, 2010) and future Legislative changes (Gender pay gap reporting – commencing April 2017) will force organisations to take action. Outside of legislation, there’s a lot that we as Managers, Leaders and HR can do to help.

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