Organisational policies and procedures

Legal compliance

  • Direct Discrimination

Direct discrimination consists of treating a person less favourably than others are or would be treated, on the grounds of race, sex, disability, religion or belief, and sexual orientation.

  • Indirect Discrimination

This includes practices which look fair but have discriminatory side effects, which may or may not be intended.

  • Harassment

Harassment of individuals related to their sex, race, disability, religion or belief, or sexual orientation is regarded as a form of discrimination, and is therefore illegal. Harassment is defined as:

“Unwanted conduct related to any of the grounds covered by the legislation which takes place with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and/or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.”

  • Victimisation

Victimisation occurs when an individual is adversely treated because they have made a complaint of discrimination or harassment, or provided evidence in such a case

Organizations are legally required to follow a set of practices to ensure discrimination is eradicated and expectations of equality are met in the workplace.

Discrimination: bad for business

Such discrimination is not only immoral, but also economically harmful. With access to talent becoming increasingly scarce, the way a country uses talent will determine its competitiveness and overall economic performance. A healthy business environment enables companies to tap into a wider talent pool.

Countries that discriminate against marginalized groups within society also tend to be less innovative – the exchange of ideas between different people breeds fresh ideas that give rise to new business opportunities, products and services.

In a recent report on city competitiveness, the open and tolerant environment of cities was identified as being conducive to the generation and dissemination of ideas, which in turn contributes to innovation that supports competitiveness and economic growth.

Examples include diverse, tolerant cities such as London, Berlin or New York, which are at the forefront of global innovation and major hubs of the creative economy. Tolerant cities and countries not only use available talent efficiently, their diversity and tolerant environment makes them an attractive place to live for global talent. Tolerance and openness gives countries a major competitive advantage. Companies that put in place anti-discrimination policies have better access to talent and lower turnover rates.

Measuring diversity

Tolerance and openness result in diversity, which is taken into account in The Global Competitiveness Report through a number of indicators related to human capital. In the absence of data that would enable us to directly measure the lack of discrimination, we use outcome indicators such as a country’s ability to attract and retain talent, or the extent to which positions in companies are attributed based on meritocracy.

In an effort to more directly capture the absence of discrimination, tolerance and diversity as driving factors of innovation and the creation and exchange of ideas, we are currently searching for indicators of the state of diversity in the workplace across the 144 economies we cover.

Better data will not only enable organizations to benchmark the degree to which countries are tolerant and do not discriminate against societal groups, it would also provide a base for empirical research, highlighting the importance of tolerance for economic development.

We have been successfully highlighting the importance of gender parity for moral and economic reasons for over 10 years through our Global Gender Gap Report. The same logic applies to other groups of society. Countries that do not allow people to fully leverage their talent by combating discrimination, or that limit their citizens’ civil rights reduce their competitiveness significantly.

1970 The Equal Pay Act (EPA) (as amended), makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate between men and women in terms of their pay and conditions (including pay, holiday entitlement, pension etc) where they are doing the same or similar work; work rated as equivalent; or work of equal value.

1975 The Sex Discrimination Act (SDA) (as amended), makes it unlawful to discriminate on grounds of sex or marital status in areas such as employment, education and the provision of goods and services.

1976 The Race Relations Act (RRA) (as amended) makes it unlawful to discriminate on grounds of colour, race, and nationality, ethnic or national origin. The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 outlaws discrimination in all public authority functions, and places a general duty on public authorities to promote race equality and good race relations. There is also a specific duty to produce a Race Equality Policy and undertake race equality impact assessments.

1995 The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) (as amended) makes it unlawful to discriminate on grounds of disability in the areas of employment, the provision of goods and services and education. The 2005 Regulations provide new definitions of direct discrimination and harassment and widen the duty to make reasonable adjustments.

1996 The Employment Rights Act (as amended by the Employment Relations Act 1999) covers many issues including an employee’s entitlement to maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave, parental leave and the right to request flexible working arrangements. It also outlaws detriment in employment and affords employees a right not to be unfairly dismissed and to receive a redundancy payment (providing qualifying criteria are met). Further Regulations elaborate on these.

1997 The Protection from Harassment Act makes harassment both a civil tort and criminal offence, and although originally drafted to provide protection from stalking, covers other forms of harassment, both in and out of the workplace.

1999 The Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations make it unlawful to discriminate against a person for the purpose of employment or vocational training on the ground that that person intends to undergo, is undergoing, or has at some time in the past undergone gender reassignment. In particular, the Regulations give transsexuals the right to be protected from direct discrimination.

2001 The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA) extends the DDA (1995) to include the provision education (including Higher Education). It makes it illegal to discriminate in the provision of education on the grounds of a student’s disability. It is now largely incorporated within the DDA (2005).

2002 The Employment Act makes provision for rights to paternity and adoption leave and pay; amends the law relating to statutory maternity leave and pay; makes provision for the use of statutory procedures in relation to employment disputes; and covers the right to request flexible working.

2003 The Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations make it unlawful to discriminate on grounds of religion or religious belief in employment and vocational training.

2003 The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations make it unlawful to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation in employment and vocational training. The Regulations protect homosexuals, heterosexuals and bisexuals.

2004 The Gender Recognition Act 2004 gives legal recognition to a transsexual’s acquired gender. For example, a male-to-female transsexual will be legally recognised as a woman in English law.

2005 Disability Discrimination Act makes substantial amendments to the 1995 Act. It introduces a duty on all public bodies to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people. In particular, public bodies have to produce a Disability Equality Scheme to promote disability and to explain how they intend to fulfil the duty to promote equality.

2005 The Employment Equality (Sex Discrimination) Regulations are concerned with the principle of equal treatment of men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions. It makes changes to the definition of harassment at work and indirect discrimination, and also prohibits discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy and maternity leave.

2006 The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations make it unlawful to discriminate against employees, job seekers or trainees on grounds of age in employment and vocational training. They prohibit direct and indirect discrimination, victimisation, instructions to discriminate and harassment. They introduce a minimum retirement age of 65; a duty on employers to respond to requests to work beyond retirement age; and remove the upper age limit for claiming a redundancy payment or unfair dismissal.

2006 The Equality Act makes provision for the establishment of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) by merging the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Commission for Racial Equality and the Disability Rights Commission. The EHRC is responsible for promoting equality and diversity and will work towards eliminating discrimination on the usual grounds (including religion and belief, sexual orientation, age, gender, disability, race and gender reassignment

2007 The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 make it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods, facilities and services, education, disposal and management of premises and the exercise of public functions.

Meeting Organisational Aims and Commitment

Elements which lead to people’s commitment:

1. Commitment is an attitude

Commitment is an attitude a psychological frame of mind which motivates people to work towards certain goals. Managers can train employees with new skills and impart them with new knowledge but quite often than not they find it extremely difficult to effect changes in people’s attitude.

2. Use of resources

Committed people commit their total resources, which include going extra mile for achieving goals assigned to them.

3. Achievement of goals

Committed people not only work hard but also are also smart enough to know the ultimate results, which are expected of them. Commitment thus means striving till the achievement of ultimate goals.

Writing Equality and Diversity Policies

A good policy will be split into these sections:

  • A statement of intent
This spells out organisational commitment to equality and diversity in terms of opportunity and access, and your commitment to tackle discrimination.
  • A purpose
This explains why your organisation is writing and adopting the policy. Your organisation may wish to refer to and recognise issues of specific discrimination or refer to any specific research related to your organisation.
  • A commitment to action
Your organisation needs to list what steps it will take to ensure that its intentions and purpose are reflected in the way the organisation plans action, makes decisions, recruits staff and volunteers, delivers services and supports staff and volunteers and service users. There should be a statement about positive action to tackle under- representation in this section.
  • A review of the legal requirements
Your organisation needs to describe how this legislation relates to your work and what steps you intend to take to ensure you meet the appropriate legal requirements
  • Discrimination, harassment and victimisation
The policy needs to define direct and indirect discrimination (including discrimination by association and by perception), harassment and victimisation, all of which need to be tackled in the policy through statements committing the organisation to action.
  • Implementation and communication
Your organisation needs to explain how the policy will be put into practice and how it will be communicated to all staff, volunteers and service users.
  • Monitoring and evaluation
Your organisation needs to describe how the policy will be monitored and evaluated and who will be responsible for that work. Your organisation needs to state how long the policy will be in existence and when it will be subject to review.
  • Complaints or grievance and disciplinary procedures
Your organisation needs to make clear how complaints and disciplinary action can be triggered by actions contrary to the policy, how appeals can be made, who is responsible, and how matters are resolved.
  • An action plan
Finally, you need to write an action plan. This will include objectives with clear outcomes, stating who is responsible for each objective, what resources are in place, when each target will be met and what evidence the organisation can provide to show the outcomes have been met.