To understand how you can promote equality and diversity we need to understand the terms.
What is equality?
Society is made up of a wide spectrum of people. There are many differences and these differences can create connections with one another and they can also put certain groups at a disadvantage. This is discrimination. Discrimination can mean that individuals and whole groups are denied opportunities and treated differently and unfairly based on certain characteristics. Equality seeks to ensure that this does not happen.
What is diversity?
The term diversity means differences. It celebrates the differences between us and seeks to actively promote them. It aims to recognise and value differences as positives which enhance and progress society. Diversity ensures that there is space at the table for everyone and not just those who fit into one particular group of people. This ensures there is a level playing field and everyone has the opportunity to reach their potential.
Equality and diversity
Used together ’Equality and Diversity’ is a term to describe the human rights that form the defining values of our society. It means providing opportunity for all regardless of any other factors deemed to be discriminatory.
Under the Equality act 2010 it is a legal requirement for all organisations to promote equality in all of their business and activities and it is the responsibility of public authorities to enforce this whilst also carrying out this themselves. Within the Equality Act 2010 there are certain legal requirements under existing legislation to promote equality which identify nine protected characteristics.
The nine protected characteristics are:
- gender reassignment
- marriage and civil partnership
- pregnancy and maternity
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
How to promote equality and diversity
- Treat everyone fairly. For example, women must be treated the same and receive equal pay to men.
- Create a culture that is inclusive and welcoming to everyone. If an environment is not accommodating of an individual, the environment must be adjusted. If this is not possible other options must be explored to find a solution. For example, providing wheelchair ramps, prayer rooms, breastfeeding spaces etc.
- Ensure there is equal access to opportunities such as training, promotion, learning and that everyone is able to fully participate in these opportunities. This should be available to everyone and provided fairly and equally based on skills and abilities.
- Make sure everyone is given the chance to develop to their full potential. For example, a young person on a low income may not be able to attend an interview as they cannot afford the transport fees.
- Give staff and service users the skills to identify and challenge inequality. Effective and well-communicated strategies should be in place and training regularly provided to all staff.
- Provide environments, buildings and materials which are accessible and inclusive. Everyone has the right to be able to access environments.
- Provide and enforce policies and procedures. These provide the foundation and guidelines for an organisation.
Equality and diversity is an issue that impacts to all of us and both organisations and individuals have a responsibility to understand and practice its principles.