Equality and diversity

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Health Assured team

23 September 2020

The term equality is ensuring that everyone is treated fairly and presented with the same opportunities as others, without discriminating individuals because they have protected characteristics under the Equality Act (2010).


The term diversity is the differences between individuals and groups of people, and it is important to recognise that everyone is unique in their own way.


Current Legislation

The Equality Act (2010) protects all individuals from discrimination in the workplace, schools and general society. The Act protects 9 characteristics including age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion/belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage/civil partnership and pregnancy/maternity rights.


These characteristics are not limited to those that are listed and can include any belief that an individual may have so long as it is a philosophical belief. This Act applies to England, Scotland and Wales and has incorporated over 100 pieces of anti-discrimination laws.


The Northern Ireland Executive works with the Equality Commission to create legislation in Ireland to protect against discrimination. You can visit their website for more information about current legislation in Ireland.


Equality and Diversity in society

Treating someone differently or choosing to belittle someone because of their characteristic could be considered a hate incident or hate crime. This occurs when criminal offences are committed against an individual because they have a protected characteristic. Hate crimes and hate incidents can be physical, verbal, online or non-verbal e.g. an offensive gesture.


These incidents can be reported to the police as they are considered a criminal offence. Non-emergencies should be reported using the contact number 101. The emergency number 999 should only be used in the following circumstances:

  • A serious offence is or has been committed
  • You or someone else is in immediate danger or harm
  • Property is in immediate danger of being damaged
  • A serious disruption to the public is likely


The police in England and Wales reported 103,379 hate crimes between 2018/19 which is a 10% increase on the year before.


Equality and diversity in education

All children should be given an equal opportunity to learn and develop their own skills and knowledge. The school has a duty of care which is governed by the Department of Education to ensure that all children feel safe and are presented with equal opportunities for support. All schools are therefore required to implement and enforce anti-bullying policies to ensure that any concerns are managed efficiently and appropriately. 


If you feel that your child is being bullied or discriminated by another child or an employee within the school. You can choose to do one of the following:

  • Speak to the person directly to attempt to redress the concern
  • Raise a complaint with the school


Further information about schools responsibilities in England, Wales and Scotland can be sourced through the government website.


The main legislation relating to schools in Northern Ireland is Special Education Needs & Disability (NI) Order 2005 which aims to ensure children are treated equally in schools. More information can be sourced through The Equality Commission.


Equality and diversity in the workplace

All organisations must adhere to the Equality Act (2010) ensuring that their own policies align with this legislation. It is best practice to have a clear policy in place which prevents discrimination as this will set clear expectations and inform employees of the support available. Choosing to make equality part of the company culture can benefit businesses and help them to develop successful cultures. Employing a diverse workforce will promote this and bring with it a range of new ideas and skills. Furthermore, having a diverse workforce can create a better understanding of one another’s background or culture which will promote respect.


If you feel you have been subject to discrimination, you can:

  • Raise this informally with your manager
  • Raise a formal grievance


More information about creating an inclusive workplace can be found on ACAS’ website.


If you need to access our services to discuss any wellbeing concerns you may have, our confidential helpline is available 24/7, 365.


Alternatively, if you have access the My Healthy Advantage app (iOS & Android) you can view a variety of wellbeing resources including articles, videos, mini health checks and 4-week programmes, all aimed at improving your physical and mental wellbeing.

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