The topic of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) has come to the forefront for many businesses in recent years. Many companies are setting up committees to ensure they are tackling the issues and making positive changes to ensure their employees feel engaged and involved.

Skillsoft recently reported that there had been a 72% increase in the number of DEI courses completed since March 2020. But there is still more work to be done, and you may have questions about the legalities relating to DEI. Enter our post.

To help you make sense of it all, we are going to cover:

  • the legislation covering DEI
  • sources of helpful guidance on DEI

Legislation relating to DEI

#Legal Services Act 2007

The Legal Services Act 2007 is concerned explicitly with diversity in the legal profession and states that it aims to encourage an “independent, strong and diverse legal profession.”

#Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 came into force on 1st October 2010 to give people a “framework against direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation in services and public functions, work, education, associations and transport.”

There are specific provisions within the Equality Act 2010 that relate to work, and these include:

  • allowing claims for direct gender pay discrimination where there is no actual comparator
  • extending protection in private clubs to sex, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity, and gender reassignment
  • introduction of new powers for employment tribunals to be able to make recommendations that will benefit the entire workforce
  • making pay secrecy clauses unenforceable

#Positive Action Provisions

The positive action provisions were added to the Equality Act 2010 on 6th April 2011, and they are aimed at protecting people from being treated less favourably because they have a protected characteristic. The relevant protected characteristics to do with employment include:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race (including ethnic or national origin, colour and nationality)
  • religion or belief (including a lack of)
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

The positive action provisions mean it is not unlawful for companies to recruit or promote an employee who is of equal merit to another candidate if the employer thinks

  • The candidate has a protected characteristic that is currently unrepresented in their workforce or
  • that people with that characteristic suffer a disadvantage connected to that characteristic.

However, positive action does not mean that an employer can appoint a less suitable candidate just because the candidate has an unrepresented or disadvantaged characteristic.

Helpful guidance on DEI legislation

If you want to find out more about DEI legislation, then the following resources may come in useful:

Making sure you are focused on diversity, equality and inclusion in the workplace is an essential business practice for those companies that aspire to be high performing. If you want to be part of a company that helps its employees, clients and candidates thrive, please get in touch with Agile Recruit at info@agilerecruit.com.

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