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Business News 2009
Business News->Commission launches new report on integration in the workplace
Commission launches new report on integration in the workplace

London, 7 October 2009

Asian woman in the workplaceThe Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) yesterday launched a new report into how a range of UK organisations have established equality policies encouraging employees from diverse backgrounds to participate fully in the workplace. The report looks at eight employers - including BT, Asda, the British Library and North Wales Police - to see what policies and practices they have adopted to encourage lesbian, gay, bisexual and older employees and those with differing religions or beliefs to take up recruitment, promotion or advancement opportunities in the workplace.

The report will be used by the Commission to develop guidance for employers on implementing effective equality policies. All eight organisations adopted a variety of equality programmes aimed at making employees feel accepted and preventing discrimination based on age, sexual orientation and religion or belief. The research revealed that no one policy or approach was appropriate for all organisations, however support from senior managers, in particular from the chief executive, was vital for equality policies to be properly implanted.

Examples of good practices were found in all the eight organisations, including:

  • Asda and BT: which produced advice booklets that gave employees and managers an insight into the diverse religions or beliefs practiced by their colleagues and customers
  • BT: which provided advice for line managers about allowing staff to take time to pray, accommodating religious festivals and balancing policies on uniform with religious requirements
  • BT: which abolished the set retirement age
  • University of Glasgow: which had diversity specialists within the organisation and diversity champions at senior levels to raise awareness of particular equality strands.

Other good employer practices included:

  • Equality policies that were actively implemented
  • Establishing in-house equality training programmes
  • Encouraging the establishment of staff networks for particular groups (staff networks for lesbian, gay and bisexual employees were the most common)
  • Providing information for staff on age discrimination law
  • Adopting flexible working practices
  • Reviewing workplace policies and their implementation
  • Challenging discrimination and harassment.

Andrea Murray, Acting Group Director Strategy from the Commission, said: 'This research provides us with an understanding of how effectively implemented equality policies in the workplace can lead to employees from diverse backgrounds feeling confident and able to fully participate in the organisation. We know that workplace integration for employees is important to allow them to progress in their careers. This report will be used to develop guidance to assist employers in positively engaging with staff from diverse backgrounds.

'These groups face similar challenges such as barriers to career opportunities and career progression and workplace harassment. Discrimination based on sexual orientation, age and religion or belief continues to be a problem in some organisations and understanding how to prevent these issues is an important step towards equality for these groups.'

Download the report: Integration in the workplace ()

About The Equality and Human Rights Commission

The Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission. It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights. The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act. It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.

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