Category: gender, Discrimination, experience, customer, disadvantage, benefits, sexual orientation, diverse job
The UK is a very diverse country and this is something that benefits companies based here. By having people with different life experiences and backgrounds, a company can gain better insight into the market they are operating in and serve its diverse customers better, as well as having more ideas to draw on.
It is illegal in the UK to discriminate when recruiting people based on disability, gender, sexual orientation, age, race or other factors that could see some people at a disadvantage for a job they are equally qualified and able to do.
Naturally, there are limitations to this when a job has physical requirements. For instance, to do a driving job, one would need to be medically allowed to drive and hold a valid license, so it is not discrimination if this kind of job is not available to someone with epilepsy or who is partially sighted. Equally, it would not be regarded legally as racial discrimination if someone who doesn't speak fluent English is not considered for a job where this is required.
For most jobs, however, the laws protecting those who are in a minority but are equally able to do a job, are there to ensure you won't be treated differently to any other applicant.
The Disability Discrimination Act aims to make sure that people with disabilities are still able to work in roles that suit them and that enable them to contribute to society and gain the rewards of a good career.
Disability can cover a wide range of things, from sensory disabilities like being blind or deaf, mobility disabilities like paralysis or back and leg problems, and also mental special needs such as autism or mental health problems.
While any kind of disability may limit the kind of jobs you can do, this is really the case for everyone – only very beautiful people can be models and only people with good fitness can be firefighters. Finding a career path where your disability doesn't impede you in any way is the key, and when you have done this, you should not encounter any discrimination when applying for roles you can do well.
Discrimination against women is also forbidden by law. In fact, many industries are actively trying to encourage more women to study and work in their fields to improve their own diversity.
Women do sometimes have different needs in the workplace to men, such as maternity considerations and a higher likelihood of wanting part-time or flexible working hours. However, companies have made a lot of advances in recent years that can accommodate a better work-life balance for mothers.
For women who don't have children, it is against employment law for a potential employer to ask if you plan to have kids. You should be considered based on your current ability to do the job better than the other candidates, rather than the possibility you may in the future need to take maternity leave.
As with gender, race discrimination is also illegal in UK employment law, and so as long as you are legally permitted to work in the UK and have the skills required for the job, employers cannot consider an ethnic minority person as having less appeal as a candidate than a non-minority person.
Many organisations in the UK, particularly in the public sector, have groups and networks for their minority staff to connect with each other, for instance, for people of a given religion or racial background. Employers can be very supportive of their minority people because having people from different backgrounds actually helps their business be more diverse and thrive.
Another legal area when it comes to discrimination is age. People below retirement age who are qualified and equipped to do a job should not be discriminated against in favour of younger candidates. While a younger candidate may offer more potential years of service, most people change jobs every few years in the current climate anyway, and more mature employees bring with them a wealth of experience and can benefit a company a lot.
Diversity in the workplace is really important, and as a candidate, it is also important to know what your rights are when you are seeking work.
VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please call 02037405973 or email [email protected] for more information.
We are also officially recommended by Disability Confident as a step on achieving Employer status, please click here for more information.