Equality and diversity policies: employers exceed legal requirements

As the Equality Bill starts its passage through Parliament a survey has found that most employers (69%) already have policies that go beyond statutory requirements, according to research by Personnel Today’s sister publication, Employment Review.

In a survey of 150 organisations, fairly evenly split between the public and private sectors (47%:53%) with a combined workforce of more than 400,000, only two had no policy.

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Flexible working was the most common measure employers used to ensure diversity, with six in 10 offering more than is required by the law, and nearly half (47%) offering to support family-friendly working. About half also provided more generous maternity pay and leave than the legal minimum.

Stronger anti-bullying and harassment arrangements than the law demands were promoted by four in 10 respondents and about one-third (32%) had specific dignity at work provisions.


Employers are divided on how to treat the linked issues of equal opportunities and diversity. The more popular option, at 43%, was to publish a single policy encompassing equality and managing diversity, while 37% limited their statements of intent to equal opportunities. One in 10 had drawn up separate policies covering the issues and only four organisations claimed to have subsumed equality terminology into their diversity policies.

Allocating responsibility

The number of diversity managers in the workplace is rising. One in eight (12%) had a specialist responsible for developing diversity policies, while just 5% had an equal opportunities manager. However, in most (57%), the HR manager was still the main person for developing and reviewing equality and diversity policies.

Their role is likely to become more onerous once the Equalities Bill becomes law but the survey found organisations were already checking whether their managers were abiding by their existing codes. More than three-quarters regularly monitored the impact of their equalities policies.

Nine out of 10 organisations monitored applications and slightly fewer checked appointments 55% monitored pay, closely followed by promotion at 52%.

The monitoring did not end there, with four in 10 employers also conducting one-off equality audits.

More than four in 10 (43%) had action plans relating to equality and 28% set targets of broad aims in workforce trends.

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