How you can promote diversity
Promoting diversity isn’t just something that employers should do. We can all help to promote diversity in the workplace and in the local community.
The Equality Act
The Equality Act 2010 protects employees from any form of harassment, discrimination and bullying in the workplace. Everyone should feel accepted and protected in all areas of their life, including at work, in education, as a customer, when using public services, when buying or renting property, or as a member or guest of an association.
It is important that employers create an inclusive workplace culture that makes people feel protected from discrimination.
Employers can go further, however, as the Diversity and Inclusion expert Verna Myers said: ‘Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.’
How to promote equality and diversity in the workplace
Research in 2020 by the HR and payroll company ADP revealed that over 25% of workers in the UK experienced some form of discrimination. Over 66% said that they would feel uncomfortable about raising a discrimination claim. There is a considerable amount of awareness still needed about the importance of equality and diversity in the workplace.
There are many ways that you can promote diversity - whether this is in the workplace, school/college or within your community.
- Think about what diversity means to you and how you would want it to be demonstrated where you are. If you know what you want and are passionate about this idea, people will be more likely to join you in your vision.
- Put equality policies into place, so that all employees are treated fairly in all day-to-day activities and work-related decisions.
- If you read, see or hear something that you feel is discriminating against a certain group, speak to someone about it. Everyone's differences should be recognised, respected and valued and if there are changes to be made, then change them!
- If you are recruiting, have criteria that ensures you are making decisions based on merit.
- Know your rights! No matter your race, religion, sexual orientation, social or economic background, you should never be made to feel inferior or lower than someone else. Report any instances of workplace discrimination to your employer. If you are also unfortunate enough to be the victim of a hate crime, report this to the police and find other people you can confidently speak to that you trust.
- If you’re filling in a survey that asks about your opinion on diversity, be honest. Having lots of ideas and thoughts about the subject of diversity is helpful for companies because it means that they know where they can improve and strengthen.
Top tips to create an inclusive workplace
The following ideas are just a few of the changes an inclusive employer could introduce to make their workplace truly inclusive:
- Ensure staff feel their voices are heard – this could be via regular feedback sessions, staff surveys or a staff-run council
- Use inclusive language – ask how your colleague wants to be identified (her/she, him/he, they/them), and avoid phrases that could be interpreted as discriminatory
- Safe spaces – make the workplace environment one where under represented or minority groups feel comfortable and that their needs are fully catered for.
- Provide diversity training – training for employees that raises awareness of different cultures, how to engage with colleagues from different backgrounds and reduce bias and discrimination
- Non-discrimination policy – a formal policy that covers recruitment and day-to-day interaction between staff
What does discrimination mean?
Discrimination is where you or someone else gets unfairly treated because of a bias that an individual or group of people may have against you. The Equality Act 2010 details nine areas where discrimination can take place – called ‘protected characteristics’. They are:
- Being or becoming a transsexual person
- Being married or in a civil partnership
- Being pregnant or on maternity leave
- Race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
- Religion, belief or lack of religion/belief
- Sexual orientation.
If you are interested in finding out more about diversity or becoming involved in work that promotes and champions diversity, there are many organisations looking for volunteers. The following are some of the leading groups, but there are many others that you can join that are looking for help with events, fundraising or generally championing their cause.
- Stonewall – their mission is to promote diversity in all people groups within communities, workplaces and institutions
- Equally Ours – a national network of equality and human rights organisations (formerly the Equality and Diversity Forum)
- National Centre for Diversity – a charity that helps businesses and organisations to develop and embed equality and fairness into their ethos and practices through learning and development.