Understanding inclusion

We are all prejudiced.

I often start diversity training sessions with this statement and every time I’m impressed by the honesty of peoples’ reaction. Everyone seems to agree that yes, we are all prejudiced, and will even admit to harbouring their own prejudices.

However it’s not having these thoughts and opinions that will land you in legal difficulties, it’s whether you vocalise or act on them.

According to the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development), defining and dealing with diversity is ‘valuing everyone as an individual, whether they are an employee, a customer or another stakeholder’.

The starting point for good diversity management is valuing and celebrating ‘difference’ as an asset because everybody is different and unique.

Why is inclusion and diversity important?

First and foremost, it’s the law. We are all protected against discrimination and breaching these laws will land you or your employee in court – a stressful and costly process. But there are other important reasons to embrace diversity in the workplace.

Through good diversity management based on these values and celebrating ‘difference’, employers can access a unique mixture of talent, skills and experience that can make valuable contributions to business performance.

These include:

  • Recruiting and retaining the best talent
  • Forming part of your corporate social responsibility
  • Being seen as an employer of choice
  • Enhanced customer relations
  • Improved products, creativity and innovation
  • The ability to reach more diverse markets
  • Improved corporate branding and enhanced decision-making
  • Trade union activities
  • Ability to respond better to the competition in the market as well as the global market

What are the different types of discrimination?

Beyond the kind of direct and indirect discrimination that most people can recognise, such as harassment and victimisation, there are other types that can also lead to prosecutions

  • Associative discrimination – the act of discriminating against someone based on prejudice you have against someone they know
  • Perceptive discrimination – the act of discriminating against someone based on a perception rather than fact.

Protected characteristics

Remember, if you discriminate against someone because of any of the following, you are breaking the law and can be taken to court:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation.

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