Equality is a very significant aspect of employment in all respects - for employers and workers.


Equality [edit]

discrimination and equality - ageism, gender, racial, disability, ethnicity and other diversity implications and laws

Equality is a very significant aspect of employment in all respects - for employers and workers.

Diversity - a positive approach to equality in work - offers advantages and benefits for organisations (US organizations), just like any other sort of diversity in life.

Treating people fairly, regardless of age, gender, disability, ethnicity, race, etc., is vital to the principles of ethical business and ethical organisations.

Equality in work, and elsewhere, is in the UK subject to law - specifically the 2010 Equality Act, which extended and superceded several other pieces of previous legislation which applied to particular areas of potential discrimination, such as the Employment Equality Age Regulations of 2006.

These legal aspects of equality at work are generally consistent with legislation across Europe, and increasingly other parts of the world, especially what has been historically regarded as the 'western world'.

If you are an employer you need to be aware of, and act upon, the implications of equality regulations.

Understanding equality is helpful for you as an individual too, to understand your rights and your personal responsibilities.

Reacting properly to equality age discrimination legislation is easy for good organizations. Regulations do not challenge organizations which already treat their staff and customers fairly and ethically.

The UK/European principles of equality provide a helpful model for any organisation anywhere in the world.

As a worker or employee or manager, etc., you are also affected individually by equality/discrimination regulations, because these laws allow for individuals to be held responsible for certain types of discriminatory behaviour (US behavior) against others, and to be pursued for compensation, aside from the responsibility of the employer or organisation.

Here is a brief summary of the UK/European equality laws.


equality - summary of law (uk/europe)

Note that these laws extend far beyond work. They are presented here in a work or organizational context, but the laws apply anywhere.

types of discrimination - (according to and situation)

It is against the law to discriminate against any person due to his/her:

  • age (also referred to as 'ageism')
  • gender/sexuality/sexual orientation (for example a male, female or transexual, or transitioning)
  • marital status (married, single or in a civil partnership)
  • pregnancy (or having/expecting/wanting a child)
  • disability (physical or mental)
  • race (colour [US color], nationality, ethnicity, national origin)
  • religion (belief, atheism [lack of religion/belief] spiritual preferences)

These aspects of human diversity are called (in UK law) 'protected characteristics'.

Equality law protects people from discrimination against such characteristics when/in/seeking:

  • work/employment
  • education
  • as a consumer
  • member/guest of private club/association
  • using public services
  • buying/renting property
  • with/helping someone of protected characteristic (for example, family member/friend, or you've complained about discrimination, or supported another person's claim - this is called in law 'positive action', which is judged to be legal where a person of a protected characteristic has particular needs, is disadvantaged and under-represented)
types of discrimination - (in what ways)

Discrimination can happen in different ways, typically defined as, (nothwithstanding reasonable justification*):

  • direct discrimination - treating someone (with a protected characteristic) less well than others
  • indirect discrimination - making a rule/arrangement that applies generally, but is unfairly disadvantageous to a person of protected characteristic
  • harassment - action which undermines dignity or produces hostile environment for a person of protected characteristic
  • victimization - treating someone unfairly because they've complained about discrimination or harassment

* N.B. 'Reasonable justification' may ultimately be determined by legal process.

discrimination/equality at work

The law protects people from discrimination at work, notably concerning (and notwithstanding reasonable exceptions*):

  • dismissal/grievance
  • discipline
  • employment contracts/conditions
  • pay/benefits
  • promotion/transfer
  • training
  • recruitment
  • redundancy
  • retirement/pensions

* N.B. 'Reasonable exceptions' may ultimately be determined by legal process.

disability - in employment (including seeking employment)

A disability is basically defined as:

'A physical or mental impairment with substantial long-term [a year or more] negative effect on a person's ability to do normal daily activities'.

Employers must make 'reasonable adjustments' to help disabled employees and job-applicants with:

  • forms - application forms, etc (Braille/audio formats, etc)
  • tests - aptitude/psychometrics, etc (adjusting times/types of tests accordingly, etc)
  • dismissal/redundancy (necessary allowances)
  • discipline/grievances (necessary allowances)
  • interviews (physical access, communication help, etc)
  • facilities/equipment (ensure appropriate)
  • career development - promotion, transfer and training opportunities (ensure fair)
  • pay/terms - employment contract, bonuses (ensure fair)
  • work-related benefits (fair access to recreation/refreshments, etc)

N.B. There are some other types of unlawful discrimination which fall outside of equality laws, for example on basis of trade union membership.

These laws are explained in detail (UK) at the ACAS website (ACAS is the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service - an public agency body of the UK Government).


respecting, fostering and protecting diversity - improves good organizations

Equality - and the fostering and protection of diversity - are marks of good effective modern organizations. Correct actions reflect a positive image; incorrect actions reflect badly.

The same applies to people too - individual employees, customers, managers - everyone.

Having a respect for equality embedded into philosophy, policies and processes - and fully understood by all staff - is consistent with ethical leadership.

Equality means treating people fairly: valuing and respecting people regardless of their natural characteristics.

When an organization values its people in this way, its people respond in kind - with loyalty, commitment and enthusiasm.

Organizations which regard equality as a problem generally have problems in other aspects of operations, not least in the organization's leadership.

Good organizations see equality as natural fairness and a force for good.

Treating people fairly enables the organization to benefit from everyone's strengths, and encourages people to support each other's weaknesses.

Aside from this, we live in a world which is now organized and connected globally. Borders and barriers are disappearing; people can largely live anywhere, work anywhere, and be anything. The world's nations, societies, and market-places now reflect this growing diversity.

Business and organizations need to respond to this new diverse landscape, and the best corporations increasingly align with it.

A diverse organization which embraces equality is far more likely to possess a self-supporting mixture of people, capabilities and experience necessary to succeed in the modern world.

Positive diversity - enabled by true equality - is an organizational advantage, and so it's very good sense to develop it.