July 28, 2021

Diversity and inclusion: explained

It often worries me when organisations contact us to discuss their need for a diversity and inclusion policy. What’s not inclusive about their organisation today and why do they feel they need a policy?

Are employees purposely not including people and if so, why? Surely inclusion is part of normal, everyday adult life? Let’s look at the legislation that underpins all of this, as well as how to improve workplace culture, recruitment practices, and other procedures.

The legislation

Firstly, to underpin the requirement for such a policy, it would need to be based around the Law or more specifically the Equality Act 2010.  This replaces other acts previously legislated: Sex Discrimination Act 1975, Race Relations Act 1976, and Disability Discriminations Act 1995.

The UK has been discussing inclusion in some form or another for many decades, yet many organisations are still getting it wrong. Why is that?

The Equality Act 2010 clearly outlines that organisations and their employees cannot discriminate against anyone based upon their age, gender reassignment, disability, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, marriage or civil partnership, and sexual orientation.  This act is not about work life – it covers all protected characterises in normal everyday life.

So, by law you’re required to treat all human beings’ equally and with respect, regardless of any of their personal circumstances.  It begs the question: why should an organisation need to enforce what is already in law, within their work environment?

Improving workplace culture

Work culture and the work environment are a key topic for all employers, especially management and HR professionals, as they’re responsible for it. Managers need to apply all aspects of the Equality Act into their everyday working life. Especially when it comes to:

  • Distributing work evenly and fairly
  • Ensuring people are managed as adults
  • Setting clear work objectives that are underpinned by achievable goals and targets
  • Communicating clearly what the company expects and wants their workforce to achieve and deliver

HR’s role in all this is to assist and support their managers to create a healthy learning environment that’s built on trust. the focus must on developing a culture of fairness and equality, where everybody’s involvement and contributions are considered.

It’s easy isn’t it? Well, unfortunately, it isn’t! And that’s why most organisations get it wrong and still require some support writing and applying a policy that supports their managers in order to achieve this task.

Recruitment practices

It’s essential to have recruitment principals in place that support the business objectives. In short, it’s about recruiting, retaining, and promoting the right people – those who exhibit the values desired by the company.

Further, ensuring your recruitment principles cover all elements of the Equality Act is key. Then you must make sure your induction programme reinforces these requirements. Finally, employers should select managers and leaders who’s professionalism encompasses these behaviours.

Policies and procedures

To achieve diversity and inclusion best practices, you must start by having the relevant policies and procedures in place. This helps solidify and confirm in writing what behaviours you expect your employees to display.

So, does that mean companies do indeed need a diversity and inclusion policy? Well, I suppose it does! Anything that helps and supports organisations achieve a people-centric workplace. Where employee contributions are valued and behaviours that encompass all aspects of the equality act are encouraged.

Plus, don’t forget any breaches of these laws would potentially mean a disciplinary offence, which could be an act of gross misconduct dependent upon the individual circumstances. So, observing or behaving in the appropriate manner is in everyone’s best interest.

More information

Our policy team is on-hand to provide support and advice for Moorepay customers. Please call an advisor on 0844 391 1921 who will be happy to help.

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About the author

Stephen Johnson

About the author

Stephen Johnson

Stephen has over 25 years experience in private sector HR and management roles, working as a Manager for over 10 years and eventually moving into the financial services industry. In his current role as an HR Policy Review Consultant he develops, reviews and maintains our clients’ employment documentation. With extensive knowledge of management initiatives and HR disciplines Stephen is commercially focused and supports clients in delivering their business objectives whilst minimising the risk of litigation.

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