Promoting and achieving workplace equality has never been more important in our rapidly changing world. Just a fortnight ago, International Women’s Day was celebrated to recognise the achievements of women despite the inequalities with which they have to contend, including within the work environment. In this blog, we consider recent government efforts to promote equality in the workplace.
Eight-step guide to achieving workplace equality
Leaders as Change Agents (LACA) is a government-sponsored committee which provides advice to the government on championing diversity and inclusion across UK businesses. LACA recognises that employers often find tackling diversity and inclusion effectively “bewildering”, especially given the new patterns of work we have witnessed as a result of the pandemic.
In February 2022, LACA published a guide that identifies eight commitments that organisations can adopt to promote equality in the workplace. Although there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to the problem of inequality in the workplace, this eight-step guide offers a helpful starting point for small and large organisations alike.
The eight commitments are as follows:
- Empowerment and choice: ensuring employees are given opportunities to grow and contribute to the organisation’s success;
- Diversity, equity and inclusion: ensuring employees know that their leaders and colleagues fundamentally respect them, regardless of background or status within the organisation;
- Growth and development: supporting employees develop their skills and careers;
- Commitment and engagement: reflecting the organisation’s commitment to employees through HR policy and business strategy, and ensuring information is shared and concerns are taken seriously;
- Participation in decisions: giving employees the opportunity to make suggestions and have input on processes that affect their jobs;
- Work-life balance: helping employees to balance family, life events and needs outside the workplace and to minimise stress;
- Fairness: treating each employee with the same consideration and making workplace guidelines clear and enforceable; and
- Recognition and reward: using reward to reinforce positive behaviours, ensuring it is fair with regard to the work performed.
Pay transparency pilot scheme
The Chartered Management Institute published a report on 8 March 2022 that found a gap between what employers say about promoting gender equality and the reality women face.Their research highlighted that less than two-thirds of employers try to ensure that both women and men have an equal voice in meetings, and that the gender pay gap increased from 7.0% in April 2020 to 7.9% in April 2021.
In response, the government launched a pilot scheme on International Women’s Day. The pilot requires participating employers to list salaries on job advertisements and to refrain from asking about salary history during the recruitment process. Further details about how the pilot scheme will play out are awaited, but it is hoped that the pilot will improve pay transparency and help tackle pay inequality.
Why should equality in the workplace matter to employers?
Achieving workplace equality continues to present challenges to employers. The government is attempting to tackle this challenge by promoting equality in the workplace through a combination of guides and pilot schemes, but the effectiveness of these measures is yet to be seen. However, these are promising steps forward for diversity and inclusion at work, which is known to provide significant benefits to a business. For example:
- a diverse team brings with it new experience and skills, inevitably leading to more innovative output;
- it can be a crucial differentiator when attracting top talent, as it is known to rank highly with candidates evaluating job offers;
- it can help organisations to reach more customers if their workforce is reflective of the demographic towards which they are marketing themselves; and
- it also improves brand reputation, which is particularly important in today’s world where the internet and social media mean that information for customers and candidates alike is readily available.
In order to stay relevant and competitive in today’s markets, equality and diversity are topics that should be high on the list for all workplaces, regardless of size or sector.