One sure way to protect and grow your business is by ensuring you promote equality and tackle discrimination in your workplace. It really is that simple. There are a number of steps you can take to promote equality. Some of them I’ll outline below:
1. Look at Your Current Position.
Even if you believe that all is well in the workplace, the reality may be altogether very different.
Think what are you already doing? What’s good and what’s bad? Be honest with yourself here as it will pay off for you in the long run.
Once you’ve worked out the good and bad bits, have a think about how the good bits could be enhanced or could be used to improve the bad bits you have uncovered.
Here are some ideas to help you investigate the positives and negatives in your business:
1a. Carry out an equality audit. This can then give you a baseline to work from and can help with future monitoring
1b. Talk to your staff as undoubtedly they will have a different perception and can undoubtedly offer suggestions for improvements
1c. Talk to other companies (not only in your sector. Go as wide as possible) and ask them what they have done that has worked. This will give you some examples of good practice
1d. Why not look at the possibility of more flexible work patterns. This will help greatly e.g. parents with young families and disabled people. This then means that the employee you have always valued will stay with you and save you money in recruiting someone new.
1e. When recruiting, always check that you use clear and justifiable criteria for selecting candidates. Make sure that you can clearly demonstrate that they are job related
2. Develop an Equality Policy and Action Plan
Do you have an Equality policy? What is an Equality policy?
Your equality policy should make it clear your commitment to equality in the workplace. Therefore, by devising a policy you are clearly making yourself accountable.
An Equality policy should include and do the following:
2a. Clearly explain your organisations values and how you are going to implement them
2b. Make a clear commitment and demonstrate to your employees and customers that you take equality in the workplace extremely seriously
2c. Help your employees to understand what is acceptable behaviour and how you expect them to represent your company or organisation
2d. Build trust in your customers and let them know what they can expect from you
2e. Lay the foundations for your action plan and support it at every step of implementation
2f. What is an Action plan and how should it look?
Your action plan should clearly state how equality is going to be implemented and monitored in the workplace
An action plan should:
– Say what will be done practically and how equality is implemented in the workplace
– Clearly state who is responsible for the actions contained in the plan
– Give clear deadlines and set targets
– State what happens if the policy is not adhered to
– Gives a clear picture of how progress is measured and at what times
– Your policy and action plan makes sure that you protect and grow your business
3. Promote Equality in the Workplace.
By reviewing your current position, you should already have identified whether your workforce in representative of society as a whole or if certain groups are under-represented. Some positive actions you could take are to improve your recruitment processes are:
3a. Actively encourage job applications from under-represented groups such as disabled people. You could state this in your job adverts that you encourage applicants from certain under-represented groups
3b. Find out from job applicants if they have any specific requirements prior to interview such as access issues
3c. Focus specifically on your requirements for the job. By doing this you encourage people to apply who may not otherwise
3d. Cast your net as wide as possible to ensure you attract the best candidates e.g. advertise in local community centres
3e. Employment practice:
3f. Give clear guidance, support and training to employees on acceptable working practice. Give clear examples of what constitutes discrimination (there are many myths about discrimination)
3g. Make sure that everyone knows what their responsibilities are including senior managers
3h. Offer flexible working to encourage valued employees to remain with you. Particularly helpful for parents with young families. Research has shown that greater flexibility in work encourages employees to be more committed and loyal to their company
3i. Make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees. They do not have to cost the earth. It could be a case of simply providing a screen reader at very reasonable cost
There are a number of other steps you can take which I will explain in future blogs.
Good luck with embracing equality!