Equality is the soul of liberty; there is, in fact, no liberty without it

It’s very likely that we can all think of an example, a situation that didn’t feel ‘fair’, a time when we, or someone we know, felt they weren’t being treated equally…

Unfortunately, inequality has been widely reported over the years and most recently with studies relating to the gender pay-gap, educational outcomes, health and well-being, home owners, graduate employment and unemployment amongst people of different ages, gender and ethnic groups.  It’s clear, as a Nation, we still have some way to go.

Lack of diversity has even taken centre stage at the Oscars.  This year ultimately saw Oscars awarded to the most diverse group of Oscar winners since the show began in 1929.   2017 being the first time in a decade when more than one black actor won a competitive Academy Award on the same night.  Viola Davis being the first black woman to win an Oscar, Tony and Emmy award for acting.

But how does this relate to us, to our businesses, to how we treat those around us?

Government Audit of Equality

This week has seen the launch of the Government led Audit relating to Ethnicity.  Let’s be honest – what has been labelled as an ‘unprecedented audit’ of race equality with ‘shocking’ inequalities, simply (but rather helpfully) brings together government statistics that have been previously published and discussed. Many of the data sets that have been cross-referenced in this audit are taken from the Annual Population Survey which collects information from a random sample of the population.  That said the findings show some obvious inequalities which, as responsible business owners, and members of society, we should look to try and improve.

The way in which this audit is being utilised by Government is likely to see a drive towards policy changes.  That’s a strong step forward.   What we are likely to see is a government-wide plan with the goal of eliminating racial barriers across all sectors including crime, justice and the law, culture, education, health, housing and work.

Stacking up the Employment Stats

There’s some good news in today’s stat’s around employment:

Since 2004, employment has gone up across all ethnic groups, the rate of employment for people from all other ethnic groups was 64%, up one percentage point since 2015, and the highest rate since 2004.

We can also see that the employment rate gap has decreased over time by 5 percentage points between 2004 -2016.

However, it’s hard to ignore that employment rates are higher for white people than for ethnic minorities across the country, with a larger gap in the North than in the South.

The stats also show a disparity in household income.  With 42% of White British households falling into the two highest income quintiles, compared to 21% of Black households, 25% of Other ethnic households, 26% of Asian households, 31% of Mixed race households and 36% of White Other households.

Mind The Gap!

So how do we start ‘doing our bit’ to reduce race inequality.  How can we ensure our workplaces are taking positive steps forward in ensuring equal workplaces?

In the words of Julie Andrews “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start”. Recruitment.

The start of every employee’s journey begins with applying for a job.  It’s important that you avoid discrimination of any kind when recruiting and remove intentional or unconscious bias.  But we all know this right?

Here are a few recommendations from our team:

Review your company application forms.  Make sure you’re not asking candidates about ‘protected characteristics’ (a fancy word for things such as age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, race, religion amongst a few)

Consider Name-blind applications – try adjusting your application form to remove name, and identifying data.  It’s skills and experience you’re after isn’t it?….so does it matter if it’s Mark, Mohamed, Jane or Irina?

Take a holistic view of your Business.  Review your company policies to avoid direct or indirect discrimination in all areas.  This could include recruitment, determining pay and promotion, disciplinary and grievances, training staff, bullying and harassment and dismissal.  You may also see some benefit of looking at the balance of your workforce in terms of its diversity from the Boardroom through to operational delivery of your services.  Just how diverse are you?

If you’d like to look at equality policies or would like to delve into your business diversity please get in touch with one of the team and we’d be happy to help.

01579 343700

Katie O’Brien

HR Consultant

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