What are you doing in your business to support Equality, Diversity & Inclusion?

What do we really understand about Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)? Interest in EDI has boomed in recent years – both in the wider political spheres of the Western world and in a more focused way in the workplace.

The intense focus on EDI has facilitated open conversations around sensitive subjects – but often with little discussion about how to practically implement EDI policies and practices, as well as training for all your staff to ensure they are aware of their obligations too.

With identity politics in the news recently following the decision to ban transgender men and women from participating in certain sports, it’s easy to fixate on awareness and neglect actionable change that implements the values a business wishes to uphold and training of your staff to support these changes.

However, EDI does not have to be an intimidating subject, and making it more accessible and easier to implement, starts with understanding your obligations as a business owner or people manager.

Is your EDI training up to date?

A recent tribunal case highlighted that “stale” EDI training (more than 12 months old) could not be relied on by the employer to give them a statutory defence to discrimination claims.

Under equality law, anything done by an employee in the course of their employment is treated as having also been done by the employer, regardless of whether the employee’s acts were done with the employer’s knowledge or approval.  This would make the employer “vicariously liable” for discrimination, harassment or victimisation committed by their employees.

However, there is a defence to such claims if the employer can show that it took “all reasonable steps” to prevent the employee from doing the discriminatory act or from doing anything of that description.

So – what are “all reasonable steps” and when should they be taken?

Reasonable steps will usually include:

  • Having and implementing an equal opportunities policy and an anti-harassment and bullying policy, and reviewing those policies as appropriate.
  • Making all employees aware of the policies and their implications.
  • Training managers and supervisors in equal opportunities and harassment issues.
  • Taking steps to deal effectively with complaints, including taking appropriate disciplinary action.

Our next Academy Training session will be on EDI on the 7th October from 9:30am-12 noon and will be led by Prisca Bradley; Meraki HR’s employment lawyer. This session is aimed at Business Owners, Managers and Team Leaders/Supervisors, who will then understand their business obligations surrounding EDI in the workplace. You can book your place here.

This training session will help you evidence three out of the four reasonable steps and there will also be an opportunity to sign up for a review of your related policies following the session. You can book your place here

Apart from the statutory defence to discrimination claims, the training will also contribute to

  • reducing the level and nature of complaints from clients or between staff members about discrimination or poor culture;
  • providing better EDI credentials when tendering for contracts as this is an increasing requirement from our clients;
  • furthering your commitment to Environmental, Social and Governance Issues, which are currently one of the biggest priorities for all organisations. These are a regulatory obligation for larger companies, but SMEs will eventually be brought into scope and may want to adhere to the standards early;
  • increasing productivity and staff morale;
  • retaining and attracting the best talent;
  • reducing turnover and staff absences;
  • limiting the financial and reputational costs associated with having to deal with complaints of discrimination.

You can book your place here; Cost is £149 per person if booked before 31st August and £199 if booked from 1st September onwards