By law businesses have to watch their step with their policies and processes to ensure they are not discriminating against anyone due to a protected characteristic (treating less favourably, unless there is a legitimate aim with no other reasonable action to reach it); actual or perceived – age, race, religion, belief, disability, sex, gender reassignment or sexual orientation, or pregnancy, maternity, marriage or civil partnership.
It may be easy to list a good chunk of extra costs in time and money that may be required to ensure that your company policies do not discriminate against anyone due to a protected characteristic:
- Arranging broader accessibility to recruitment advertising
- Providing alternative fair application and interviewing methods
- Allowing for flexible working hours, differing holiday days and extra sick leave
- Being ready and able to provide reasonable physical alterations to the workplace and equipment
- Dealing with possible collaboration barriers stemming from communication difficulties or conflict from intolerance of different perspectives
Experiments conclude that teams with individuals of differing, complementary skills are more productive due to knowledge spill-over and organisation of tasks to the more suitable individuals to speed up completion. However, socially diverse teams are less productive due to poor external social connection and collaboration barriers.
However, I have not written this article just to spread doom and gloom about the duty of care required to combat discrimination in company policy and promote diversity and equal opportunities at work! So, time for the good news.
Employee diversity is attractive to a broader market through a more socially diverse company face, and effective communication skills and understanding of the needs of a wider community. Employee diversity also improves team problem solving and decision making abilities through a more extensive field of interests, (and therefore) skills, knowledge and viewpoints.
Promoting equal opportunities at work creates a fairer environment encouraging higher levels of motivation from employees that may otherwise feel they either have little chance of progressing, or are certain to progress without good performance due to discrimination. A fairer, non-discriminatory working environment also encourages a happier workforce as employees has a greater feeling of well-being at work.
The more switched on companies actively work policies to improve employee communication and integration to lessen the negative effects on base productivity. This combined with doing more than their duty to promote diversity and equal opportunities allows them to reap the high benefits from a diverse workforce of improved company outreach and performance, leading ultimately to improved brand value and productivity.
Check out our factsheet to find out more about Combating Protected Characteristic Discrimination in Employment Policy