1. Introduction.

Equality in the workplace is an issue that has been of great importance within the business sector of Human Resources over the past centaury and continues to be to be a new trend having a great relevance in the current business world. For employers ACAS show how it makes good business sense to treat workers fairly and considerately while for employees of the workforce it allows for each and every one to be on an equal playing field and all have the same opportunities as each other. Over the course of this wiki contribution it will give the reader an insight into the theories and legislations as well as the current and future trends of equality within a working environment.

2. Equality act 2010.

The equality act of 2010 is the most current and up to date act which protects employees against discrimination. The act ‘legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society.’ (Gov, 2013). The legislation which came into use in 2010 collaborates all the previous equality acts putting it in to one legislation. Equality Human Rights (2014) shows the previous acts which where -
  • the Equal Pay Act 1970
  • the Sex Discrimination Act 1975
  • the Race Relations Act 1976
  • the Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
  • the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
  • the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
  • the Equality Act 2006, Part 2
  • the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007

From the previous acts ACAS (2010) shows the key characteristics in which the equality act 2010 needed to protect are –
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender Reassignment
  • Marriage and Civil Partnership
  • Pregnancy and Maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or Belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation

2.1. How will this act change and adapt to future developments?

As shown above equality in the workplace is a trend which is always changing and will be in need of updates as presented by all the different legislations which have been put in place over the years. When the act came into force in October 2010 there where there where elements which didn’t come into force but may well do in the future which where–
  • Duty to make reasonable adjustments to common parts of leasehold and common hold premises and common parts in Scotland
  • Provisions relating to auxiliary aids in schools
  • Diversity reporting by political parties
  • Provisions about taxi accessibility
  • Prohibition on age discrimination in services and public functions
  • Civil partnerships on religious premises

(Equality Human Rights, 2014). The list above presents ways in which the trend of equality could move towards in the coming years and what future legislations will cover in turn demonstrating how the area of equality within Human Resources constantly need adapting to keep up to date.

3. Organisations promoting equality –

Even though the aim of the equality act 2010 aims to eradicate discrimination in the workplace it still exists creating a number of organisations which promotes equality in the workplace.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS)

ACAS provides advice and support to improve organisational performance and quality of working life. They also provide also provide good value, high quality training and tailored advice to employers.

Equality and diversity forum (EDF)

EDF is a network of national organisations committed to equal opportunities, social justice, good community relations, respect for human rights and an end to discrimination based on age, disability, gender and gender identity, race, religion or belief, and sexual orientation.

Committed 2 Equality (C2E)

Our vision is for all organisations in the UK, regardless of size, sector or profile to fully embrace good working equality practices and profit from the manifold benefits to be had from employing fairly for their organisation, their employees and the community. (C2E, 2012)

Investors in diversity

The investors in diversity award is recognised as much more than just a highly prized and prestigious quality mark. It provides an all-encompassing methodology for improving Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) practices in the workplace.


Unisons equality work includes groups for members who experience particular types of prejudice and discrimination. These groups meet locally and nationally to discuss, campaign and organise around the specific issues that affect them. They help UNISON understand equality and meet our equality aims. (Unison, 2015)

4. Women’s equality in the workplace.

One of the biggest of equality within a working environment not only historically but still as a current trend is gender.


Many legislation over the years such as the equal pay act 1970 and the current equality act 2010 have tried the bridge the gap and make gender discrimination a thing of the past. One of the biggest areas in which women still get discriminated upon compared to their male counterparts is pay. Hudson (2013) explains that over 40 years since the equal pay act in the UK there is still a massive divide when it comes to pay. In the Hudson UK 2013 Salary and Employment survey the results show that 58% of women earned under £40,000 while only 33% of men reported earnings below this level. It is also shown that women are not only earning less than men they are working more than them to 31% of women reported that on average they worked over 40 hours a week while only 11% of men reported the same. This leaves the question about why four decades after the act first came in is gender equality and pay such a problem?
The Guardian (2014) and Ann Francke, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute have tried to come to a conclusion and an answer to why this is?. Francke say the current pay divide is due to apathy and ignorance with companies thinking it is not a problem for them, so they don't do anything about it. Ann explains this further saying how it is upon each individual company itself to introduce policies in which will reduce pay gap. An example which is given is Tesco and how its pay gap stands at 1% compared with the national average of 10%.

4.1. Why are there so fue women in top jobs?

Current trends show how there is still a massive divide with men and women when it comes to gaining top jobs with The Guardian (2012) stating that only 17% hold top jobs.

Sheryl Sandberg the current chief operating officer of Facebook has spoken at length to try and show some understanding at why this may be the case. Sheryl say that a key reason for this starts with education when individuals are young with something she claims is called the “girl effect”. This effect is due to boys as early as the age of four being taught to be leaders while girls are encouraged to stay in the background. The point here which Sheryl Sandberg is making is back up by Professor Judy Fudge from the University of Victoria. Professor Judy Fudge says that ‘the problem with these [work-life balance] policies in Britain is that they reinforce traditional male and female roles in the family and workplace.’ (Hudson, 2013) Both points made by Judy Fudge and Sheryl Sandberg claim it is from an early age and due to the education that they receive puts them at a disadvantage straight away of obtaining top jobs in their future career.
Looking more into the figures about women in top jobs The Guardian (2013) and as professor Judy Fudge touched upon the 21st century has seen a shift in "traditional" family dynamics and greater recognition of gender in legislation has helped pull apart gender-role divisions. From this its shows that women are far more economically independent and socially autonomous, representing 42% of the UK workforce and 55% of university graduates. The Guardian (2013) say however even though these are promising statistics women are still less likely than men to obtain leadership positions in the UK. This is shown by the percentage of women in these top jobs –
  • 22% of MPs and peers
  • 20% of university professors
  • 6.1% of FTSE 100 executive positions
  • 3% of board chairpersons.

4.2. So how can current businesses buck this trend?

There isn’t any doubt that having gender equality in a working environment can be used as an advantage. This is shown through the current trend of 140 UK businesses committed to improving gender equality at work. This was done through a scheme called Think, Act, Report (TAR) campaign started by women and equalities minister Maria Miller and one of the companies to sign up was Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Company –
Enterprise like many other organisations in the UK has ‘always seen gender diversity as a top business priority and fundamental to creating a culture of success’ (Gov, 2013).

Gov (2013) goes on to say that the company wanted to ensure that they developed female talent so that women form a representative proportion of the workforce at all levels of the organisation, ensuring future sustainability.

Action –
  • Launched a maternity coaching project with Talking Talent.
  • Providing top quality mentoring and sponsorship for female talent.
  • Launched a new scheme for keeping new parents in touch with business developments whilst on maternity leave.

Results –
  • 89% of women returning from maternity leave.
  • A 3% increase in the number of women in the UK workforce to 37%.
  • Over 50 female employees being mentored by senior directors, with a 9% promotion rate to senior roles.

This Illustrative example of a workplace putting in the time and effort to improve its gender equality shows how adapting its procedures can produce increased gains and can address gender equality.

5. The equal opportunity approach.

The equal opportunity approach is a theory of equal opportunity which ‘Seeks to influence behaviour through legislation so that discrimination is prevented’ (Torrington et al, 2014: 377). Torrington et al (2014) identifies how this theory has been characterised by both moral and ethical stance which in turn promotes the rights of all members of society. Looking into how this affects the business world and the workforce Torrington et al shows how the rational of this theory is to ‘provide a level playing field on which all can compete on equal terms’ (2014: 377). This approach will in turn gloss over differences between socially defined groups.
As equal opportunities approaches stress disadvantaged groups and the need Torrington et al (2014) provides an example of the need to set targets for those groups to ensure their representation in the workplace reflects their representation in wider society. Backing up this example The Gov (2013) show how there are 6,537 FTE Minority Ethnic officers in the 43 forces of England and Wales which in turn represents 5.0% of the total police officers. In comparison to wider society this figure isn’t reflective as the 2011 censors shows that FTE minority ethnics make up 14% of the population (BBC, 2012)
The example here presented the lack of ethnic officers further backs up Torrington et al point showing the need for an equal opportunity approach to show a greater correlation to ensure that minority groups are not disadvantage and are fairly represented in the workplace as they would be in wider society.

6. Having an Unconscious Bias in employment.


Having an Unconscious bias can affect all areas of life not only when in a working environment. The Guardian (2014) shows how an unconscious bias can affect workers creating doubts about their own ability leading individuals to miss opportunities and stop them reaching the top. An unconscious bias ‘s is based on the evidence that categories are spontaneously activated and develop as a result of our exposure to the attitudes of others, images and stereotypes throughout our lives from an early age’ (CIPD, 2010). The Business Insider (2015) presents three examples of unconscious bias in current working environments.
  • In a blind test, professors with male names were rated higher than those with female names, regardless of their actual gender.
  • Job candidates with "white sounding" names were rated higher than those with "black sounding" names.
  • Looking at an identical case study, people preferred the male name over the female.
The business insider (2015) has demonstraighted how unciouous bias is full of current businesses in the UK highlighting here how white men benefit from this. The information here shows that even though legislations such as the equality act 2010 are trying to eradicate such biases without knowing employers and guilt of it and prospective employees are being discriminated because of it.

7. Conclusion

The progress over the years with equality in the workplace has been a positive one and one in which is helping both employers and employees. New trends within equality have shown that such companies as Tesco reducing the pay gap to 1% compared with the national average of 10% (The Guardian, 2014) and Enterprise Rent-A-Car showing a 3% increase in the number of women in its UK workforce to 37% (Gov, 2013) show how companies are putting great emphasis into gaining equality within its workforce.
Even though it is clear the benefits of having equality within the workplace in the UK it is still showing that there is an injustice in certain aspects of equality. When it comes to women obtaining top positions only 6.1% of FTSE 100 executive positions are filed by women (Equality Human Rights, 2014) and in terms of pay 58% of women earned under £40,000 while only 33% of men reported earnings below this level (Hudson, 2013)
Since its introduction 5 years ago the equality act 2010 has been able to harmonise and replace previous dated legislations such as the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 as well as ensuring consistencies in what businesses need to do to make a working environment a fair environment which complies with the law (ACAS, 2010). This act has also shown information on how equality will always be a new trend which will need changing and updating. Equality Human Rights (2014) has shown such aspects as prohibition on age discrimination in services and public functions and civil partnerships on religious premises are trends when have been looked into and have to potential to be included in future acts.

Additional Contribution - MW

The association between Equal Opportunities and Managing Diversity

Evidence of equality within the workplace can be seen through the diverse employee groups. Managing diversity is to ensure an organisation is legally compliant as well as supporting fairness and inclusion within any workplace (CIPD 2012). Although the two concepts of Equal opportunities and managing diversity are different, they can be viewed as mutually supportive and complementary in practice (Torrington, Hall, Taylor and Atkinson 2014). The table below shows the key differences between equal opportunities approach and the approaches to manage diversity:

Source: Torrington, Hall, Taylor and Atkinson (2014)

From the table it is evident that managing diversity sustains equal opportunities throughout the workplace. Although managing diversity focuses more on business outcomes both concepts work together to build relationships between all employees and view the well-being of each individual important to an organisation.

Problems with the Managing Diversity approach

Numerous issues arise when debating the approaches to managing diversity within the workplace. Torrington et al (2014) criticizes the diversity management to be complex and it is subject to differing interpretations. Additionally, the focus of managing diversity is on a formal process, and it has been recognised by Torrington et al (2014) that it is not possible to formalise everything in an organisation.
Torrington, Hall, Taylor and Atkinson (2014) recall two approaches which can be taken to manage diversity which can be achieved through the distinction of groups or individuals:
The Individualism approach – The approach identifies individual differences and this can be achieved through exposing and challenging preconceptions via training. This method is inclusive and involves the participation of all members within an organisation.
Valuing differences approach – This method is based around membership of different social groups. This would involve special training which would highlight differences between all employees. Furthermore, additional training to particular groups which may feel to have a disadvantage or portray a lack of confidence within the organisation to reassure them diversity is welcomed in all workplaces. However, a problem that arises with this approach is that it could lead to group stereotyping and unwanted conflict.

Problems with the Equal Opportunities approach Torrington et al (2014) recalls the assumption in which once a member within a minority group has demonstrated the ability to perform in the organisation, attitudes and beliefs may change. Moreover, it is possible that a lack of general support for equality within an organisation partially because equality objectives are not associated with business objectives. Another concern recognised by Atkinson and Hall (2009) is that if focus is placed on disadvantaged groups it may begin to alienate the larger sections of the workforce such as employees which adopt traditional patterns of work. These workers tend to resent the extra workload that colleagues (mainly female) working non-traditionally (flexibly) impose upon them (Atkinson & Hall 2009). Furthermore, Torrington et al (2014) argue that equal opportunities are an approach which makes an attempt to treat the symptoms rather than act on the causes of unfair discrimination.

Equal opportunities or managing diversity

Dickens (2006) suggests it is important for diversity and equality to be seen as a combination, and to see equality opportunity and the management of diversity as alternatives threatens to separate the link them and in turn be unfavourable to organisational objectives. CIPD (2012) claim that equality and diversity objectives should be interwoven into job descriptions and performance reviews, as networking and celebrating success is more likely to promote and reinforce both equality and diversity within the workplace. CIPD (2006) argues that evidence found between performance improvements resulting from diversities is weak, which in the business case is potentially detrimental to equality. Furthermore Torrington at al (2014) claim that UK managers are driven by short-term budgets and the economic benefits of equality may only be gained in longer term objectives. Nevertheless, equality and diversity should preserve central position within training, and more so be included within the training of line managers and supervisors so these individuals can rightfully act upon and manage equality and diversity.


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Additional References

Atkinson, C and Hall, L. (2009) ‘The role of gender in various forms of flexible working’, Gender, Work and Organisations, Vol 16. Pp650-66.
CIPD (2006) ‘Managing Diversity: Measuring success.’ London: CIPD.

CIPD (2012) ‘Diversity and Inclusion: Fringe or Fundamental?’ London: CIPD

Dicken, L. (2006) ‘Reregulation for gender equality’ Industrial Relations Journal, Vol 37. Pp 299-309.
Torrington, D. Hall, L. Taylor, S and Atkinson, C (2014) ‘Human Resource Management’ 9th Edn. Edinburgh: Pearson Education Limited.


An Inclusive Workplace

‘An inclusive workplace is one where the human rights principles of fairness, respect, equality, dignity and autonomy are promoted and are part of the organisation’s everyday goals and behaviour’ (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2010).

There are a number of benefits of a business retaining an inclusive workplace. Initially if an organisation promotes equality and human rights will mean that their brand reputation will be seen in an increasingly better light. Leading on to this will also mean that the company will be able to attract a wider selection of applicants and talent as people will be more willing to work in a pleasant equal environment. Staff that are treated with more respect and have the feeling of being value this has shown a high retention of staff. In comparison if a company is known for having persistent stereotypes are more likely to face barriers to their success. A company that has employees for diverse background will give the advantage that the company will have the ability if needed to branch out into wider communities. This is achieved through the company using experience and skills that the employees have. Looking beyond the work place surrounding there is also change at work that can bring benefits outside the confines of the organisation. By a company providing an environment that is not surrounded by inequality will mean this will spread outwards beyond the employees working environment.
Dennis Gissing who is Head of People Practices at BT states that ‘flexibility is a win-win for us from a societal, business and costs point of view, and for attracting and retaining the best people.’ BT is a key example of a company who has bought equality to their workforce with 97% of women returning to the company after maternity leave and have recently abandoned the retirement age of 60 in 2005 and now employee’s 2,000 people over the age of 60 (Mahapatro, 2010). Another company who shows outstanding equality is the British Library. The library runs specific training and awareness session for the organisations specific needs. Due to the library containing sacred material about Judaism, Islam and Christianity the business has ensured that all key managers, human resources and frontline service staff have the relevant training on religion, belief and cultural needs. The Policy Manager Diane Brown explains ‘We were expecting lots of visitors of different religions and belief, many of whom would be orthodox, and we realised that we needed to uplift the awareness, skills and knowledge of our staff in order to make the experience fully valuable’ (British Library, 2010).
How will companies know if they have been successful in promoting equality?

It is vital for a company to know how successful they are in creating an equal environment within the working environment the reasons behind this is to recognise what the company has achieved but also actions that need to be put in place in the future. There are several different way that organisations can check how far they have achieved equality. The first is talking to their staff and getting their opinion of how they feel and their attitudes. Another is for the company to review the policies that have been put in place. Asking people opinion and views is not the only way a company can review the equality within their business, the company can also check at the data they hold. This refers to issues such as the demographic make-up of the employees. This can then be used to compare alongside other organisations which can either be on a national or sector specific resources (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2010).


British Library (2010) The Value of Knowledge [e-book] London: Crown Copyright. Available from: http://www.bl.uk/about/annual/2009to2010/full.pdf [Accessed 20/04/2015]

Equality and Human Rights Commission (2010) An Employer’s guide to… Creating an inclusive workplace. [Online] Available from:
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Gender pay gap in various industries and countries are different which will reduce women’s lifetime earnings and have a negative effect on their pensions.The reasons are as follows:

1.The difference between human capital investment : the investments on women's education, training, labor mobility and looking for jobs are generally lower than men's.

2.The needs of balancing work and the family responsibilities: the domestic work is not equally shared so women may be forced or choose to accept the jobs which allow they can combine family responsibilities and paid employment work(Striking Women.com, 2013).

Why it is important to eliminate the discrimination in the workplace?

The elimination of discrimination in the workplace has strategic significance on discrimination against in other fields. It gathers people with different characteristics in same workplace and gives them equal treatment which can help to eliminate bias and prejudice (Rekosh.E&Sleeper.M, 2004).The workplace with social integration would pave the way for the labor market and social which can be more equal, democratic and harmonious.

The equality in employment is important for personal freedom, dignity and happiness. The people who suffer from discrimination feel stressed and lack of motivation generally which not only knock their confidence and increase others prejudice against them, and also has negative effect on their productivity (Karolina.K ,2008).On the contrary,the workers who are treated equally have a higher sense of responsibility and they will devote more energy to work in order to gain more recognition.The daily work atmosphere and the overall labor relationship will improve so that the rate of absence and sick leave is likely to reduce and the employer's expenses will save greatly.

To eliminate discrimination is important to effective operation of the labor market and the enterprise competition.A group of employees who are not representative in terms of age, gender, religion or physical/disability are difficult to meet the diversified needs of customers with the globalization of production increasing rapidly(Secretariat,2013).

The elimination of discrimination in the labor market can make workers develop their potent more efficiently. The increasing of the proportion of workers engaged in decent work will expand the consumer goods market and expand the development opportunities( Ali.I ,2005 ). Restrictions on woman's employment can lead to labor supply tension and higher labor costs; Other things, the more equal on production resources allocation and education between men and women will achieve higher productivity.

The main developing trends and policy issues

Recently, even though women increased its share in administration and management,the nature of the career development path often hinders their promotion to the top. Most of the women in the lower management are arranged in a non-strategic department, such as personnel or administrative department rather than the professional and management positions(Kumari.R,2009).Eliminating the payment discrimination is the key to truly achieve gender equality and promote social equality(ILO, 2007) .If workers are paid according to the lower level than the dominant groups,women and other groups facing discrimination will not improve their economic status.


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