In this blog, we answer a common question that’s often asked by those wondering what the difference between equality and diversity is. We’ll explain the key differences and provide you with further information on relevant legislation, as well as signposting you to some equality and diversity training courses.
A Short Introduction to Equality and Diversity
Both terms are generally indented to raise awareness of discrimination in all of its many guises, with the goal of championing equality, diversity and equal opportunities for all, in any given setting. The Equality Act 2010 details legislation with the goal of protecting individuals from being discriminated against. There are nuances between equality and diversity however which can sometimes prove challenging to navigate.
Acas states that a more inclusive, diverse and equal workplace can provide many benefits, which include;
- Happier and more motivated employees
- Improved ideas generation for more effective problem solving
- Prevention of serious legal issues that could arise as a result of things like discrimination, bullying and harassment
- Attracting and retaining good calibre staff
Equality, diversity and inclusion are often used as an umbrella term, with the legal responsibilities of businesses laid out in detail in the Equality Act 2010. This provides Great Britain with a discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society.
Consider equality and it’s impossible not to think about the disparity that exists in some organisations between the salaries paid to men and women at the same grade, carrying out the same role. According to the Office for National Statistics in April 2021 the gender pay gap had decreased to 7.9%, but that’s still a sizeable difference.
Equality in the workplace means equal job opportunities and fairness for employees and job applicants.
Not only that, there is still a large gender pay gap, in particular for employees aged 40 years and over and those aged below 40 years, meaning women in the workplace over the age of 40 are still being paid significantly less than men over 40 doing the same role, proving there’s still a long way to go in addressing this most basic of equal rights.
Whilst gender equality specifically tends to spring to mind when we think about equality, the law states there should be no grounds for discrimination based on a wide variety of factors including gender, age, race, sexual orientation and religious beliefs. Under law these are referred to as ‘protected characteristics’ and are outlined in the Equality Act 2010. You can find out more about discrimination and the law here.
Diversity refers to the range of people who make up your workforce. A good diversity mix will include people of varying ages, ethnicities, orientations, religions, and disabilities, and valuing those differences is key. It’s vitally important that a diverse workplace doesn’t discriminate and treats everyone fairly.
It’s good practice for businesses to ensure they have a diversity policy in place and to fully understand what a diverse workplace looks like as well as how to make measurable improvements.
Put simply, inclusivity means ensuring everyone that works for a business feels like they belong and that they are supported and valued. Essentially, an inclusive workplace is one that allows employees to truly thrive, which is good for the individual which in turn, is good for the business.
Understanding how employees feel about their place in the workplace can be tricky to ascertain however. What makes one employee feel included could potentially make another feel excluded, so getting to really know how your employees feel and learning from them about what makes them feel included provides a valuable starting point.
Equality and Diversity Training Courses
It’s vitally important that businesses make decisions that avoid discrimination whilst fostering a fair and supportive working environment designed to help employees thrive. Here at RealSense, we have carefully developed our Equality and Diversity for Managers Training course and Equality and Diversity for Employees Training course to help you meet your legal responsibilities.
If you’d prefer, we can collaborate with you to deliver bespoke training perfectly tailored to your requirements, get in touch with us to find out more, alternatively, take a look at our full suite of Employment and HR e-learning courses.