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Equality and Diversity
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Frequently Asked Questions

Some answers to frequently asked questions …

What does Equality & Diversity mean?

What is meant by the term equality?

Isn’t diversity another word for equality?
What is a protected ‘characteristic’ or ‘aspect’?

Avoiding Discriminatory Practice

Isn’t equality and diversity really about giving some people preferential treatment at the expense of others?

Isn’t equality and diversity someone else’s responsibility?
What is positive action?
What is discrimination?
What is meant by harassment and victimisation?
What forms can harassment take?
What is positive discrimination?
What is anti-discrimination?
What does BME stand for?
If you’re white, can you take a court case under the Equality Act?
What is an equality and diversity policy?
Is it a legal requirement to have an equality and diversity policy and procedures?
How could I put the policy into practice?
What goes into an action plan?

Access Goods, Facilities, Services, Employment and Education 

Why do I need to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people? 

How do I find out what reasonable adjustments I will need to make and whether my duty is a one off or an ongoing requirement?

Recruitment Practice

How do you ensure that all selection decisions are based on objective, non-discriminatory and work related criteria?

Have you developed an approach to recruitment that ensures you get the best people?
What is meant by restrictions in the use of disability-related and health questions during recruitment and selection?

Further Information

Who do I need to contact if I need advice on any equality and diversity issue?

What does Equality & Diversity mean?

What is meant by the term equality?
Equality is often defined as treating everyone the same.  True equality means treating everyone differently in order to treat them the same.

Isn’t diversity another word for equality?
No, diversity is about recognising, valuing and taking account of people's different backgrounds, knowledge, skills, and experiences, and encouraging and using those differences to create a productive and effective educational community and workforce.

What is a protected ‘characteristic’ or ‘aspect’?

Equality and diversity includes any issue which could result in less favourable treatment to an individual or group of individuals based on for example their disability, gender, race, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief etc.

The Equality Act protects against discrimination on the following grounds:

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

In addition, bullying, harassment or victimization are also regarded as equality and diversity issues.

Avoiding Discriminatory Practice

Isn’t equality and diversity really about giving some people preferential treatment at the expense of others?
No equality and diversity means treating everyone equally on their merits, and not treating some unfairly because of their disability, gender, race, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief etc.

Isn’t equality and diversity someone else’s responsibility?
No, it is everybody’s responsibility to implement good practices, no matter what you do within an organisation – staff/students etc.

What is positive action?
These are actions to encourage the under-represented into particular areas of activity.  For example, females or males into non-traditional work or training.
From April 2011 you are allowed to take a protected characteristic into consideration when deciding who to recruit or promote.  However, you can only do this when you have candidates who are “as qualified as” each other for a particular vacancy.

What is discrimination?
Discrimination could be direct or indirect, and both are covered by equality & diversity legislation.
a. Direct - Where one person is treated less favourably than another is, has been or will be treated in a comparable situation
b. Indirect - Where an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice will put persons at a disadvantage, compared with other persons
Also included in discrimination are harassment and victimisation.

What is meant by harassment and victimisation?
a. Harassment can be defined as unwanted and unreciprocated offensive behaviour towards a person or group. 
b. Under the law, if the recipient feels harassed then they are.  It does not matter whether or not the offensive behaviour was intended as a joke.
c. Harassment can be persistent or an isolated incident towards one or more peopled. 
d. Victimisation is a retaliation against someone because they have made a complaint or allegation of discrimination.

What forms can harassment take?
Verbal Abuse
Jokes
Graffiti
Embarrassing and/or insensitive comments
Leering
Physical contact
Unwanted sexual advances
Ridicule
Isolation
Victimisation
Deliberately ignoring someone
Offensive language
Gossip
Slander
Sarcasm
Unfounded criticism
Setting unattainable targets at work
Posters
Obscene gestures
Pestering
Spying
Stalking

What is positive discrimination?
It is unlawful to select someone solely on the grounds of their race, ethnicity, gender or disability.

What is anti-discrimination?
This approach acknowledges that prejudice and stereotyping are part of everything that we do and say. By recognising personal views you can prevent discrimination happening both personally and through challenging others.

What does BME stand for?
BME stands for Black and Minority Ethnicity, which includes members of the following British and international ethnicities: Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, Indian other, Chinese, Asian other, Black African, Black Caribbean, other Black background, White and Asian mixed, White and African Caribbean mixed, other mixed background and other ethnic

If you’re white, can you take a court case under the Equality Act?
Yes.  The Equality Act 2010 subsumes the Race Relations Act 1976 which covers people of all races and provides for recourse to law should anyone be discriminated against on the grounds of their race or ethnicity.

What is an equality and diversity policy?
It is the first essential step in developing an equality and diversity programme. It is not an end in itself but provides a framework for action and initiatives. It is a basic statement of equality and diversity aims and objectives for the organisation. It underpins specific measures aimed at ensuring equality and diversity for present and potential employers.

Is it a legal requirement to have an equality and diversity policy and procedures?
There is no legislation that requires a company to have a written policy or procedures.  However, it is strongly advised for reasons stated below, and also should the company ever be involved in an employment tribunal it will need to demonstrate that it takes equality and diversity seriously.  The absence of a policy and procedures will make the evidence for this difficult.

How could I put the policy into practice?
The policy needs to be supported by a practical programme of action which becomes a part of everyday management.  Responsibility for the policy should rest with a nominated member of the top management team, supported by all managers.  To ensure the co-operation and commitment of all staff, the policy should be publicised to all employees.

What goes into an action plan?
The action plan should cover the following main areas:
Communication – ensuring all staff know of the policy and its contents, and it has top management support.
Training – providing this for key decision makers such as managers and supervisory staff, and those involved in personnel and training.
Monitoring – your workforce and those applying for jobs.
Reviewing – your existing recruitment, selection, promotion and training procedures to ensure they are fair to all and support equality and diversity.
Grievance and discipline – ensuring there are credible mechanisms available for those who have a grievance concerning discrimination or harassment.
Positive action – consider its use to address under-representation of people from ethnic minorities, women or people with disabilities.

Access Goods, Facilities, Services, Employment and Education 

Why do I need to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people?  How do I find out what reasonable adjustments I will need to make and whether my duty is a one off or an ongoing requirement?
The service provider’s duty is to make reasonable adjustments. You have to take positive steps to make your services accessible to disabled people.  You should anticipate their needs and the adjustments which may have to be made for them rather than wait until a disabled person wants to use a service you provide.  You could ask your clients/customers whether they have any special requirements and what adjustments may need to be made.  Once you have put a reasonable adjustment in place make sure, when appropriate, that you draw the attention of disabled people to its existence.

Making reasonable adjustments is a continuing duty.  You should keep the duty to make reasonable adjustments under review.   It might be appropriate for you to do this whenever you review the efficiency and cost effectiveness of your business and your working practices.

Recruitment Practice

How do you ensure that all selection decisions are based on objective, non-discriminatory and work related criteria?
To achieve effective, fair and lawful recruitment and selection practices, you will need a clear and consistent process for everyone to use.  When these practices are in place, not only do they help a company to adopt consistent, recorded and justifiable procedures, they ensure that THE BEST PERSON FOR THE JOB is recruited. 

Decisions on recruitment and promotion will be made on the basis of ability, the requirements of each job, use of clear job specifications and scoring mechanisms.
Colour, ethnic or national origins or social background will not affect the choice of an individual for a particular job, and in their day-to-day work all employees/trainees must be given equal opportunity for demonstrating their ability and improving their position.

Have you developed an approach to recruitment that ensures you get the best people?
Word of mouth advertising for your organisation is excellent for commercial reasons but not necessarily for recruiting staff. Friends and relations may be recommended but may not have the qualifications needed.  People getting on socially is not always good for team working and they may bring family disputes into the workplace. It is recommended that where appropriate, more than one method of advertising is used and coverage is as wide as possible.

The Equality Act 2010 brings in new provisions which limit the circumstances when job applicants can be asked about their health prior to the job being offered.  The allowed circumstances are, using health questions to:

  • decide whether there is a need to make any reasonable adjustments for the person in the selection process
  • decide whether an applicant can carry out a function that is essential to the job
  • monitor diversity among people making applications for jobs
  • take positive action to assist disabled people

assure the employer that a candidate has the disability where the job genuinely requires the jobholder to have a disability.

Extension of employment tribunal powers
The Act extends this power so that it will now be possible for a tribunal to make recommendations that an organisation takes steps to eliminate or reduce the effect of discrimination on other employees, not only on the claimant.

Equal pay – direct discrimination
A change in the Equality Act allows a claim of direct pay discrimination to be made, even if no real person of the opposite sex can be found receiving a more pay.

Pay secrecy
The Act makes it unlawful for you to prevent or restrict your employees from having a discussion to establish if differences in pay exist that is related to a protected characteristics.  It also makes terms of the contract of employment that require pay secrecy unenforceable because of these discussions.

Further Information

Who do I need to contact if I need advice on any equality and diversity issue?
To discuss any equality and diversity issue, please contact: 
Julie Kitching, Equality and Diversity Manager
e-mail: jkitching@yorkcollege.ac.uk
Tel: 01904 770309
or e-mail: equalityanddiversity@yorkcollege.ac.uk

If you would like further information on a course, or would like to book a place, please contact the Customer Services Unit on 01904 770400.

The college has an online recruitment service. You can access a range of information about the college, the recruitment process and certain relevant policies as well as details of each vacancy. 

Visit: http://www.yorkcollege.ac.uk/hr/index.html
e-mail: recruitment@yorkcollege.ac.uk
Tel: 01904 7704123.

There is also a links page on this website that can signpost you to particular websites for further information.

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