How do equal opportunities policies differ throughout Europe?

for working parents in the UK are not as generous as those of European
competitors. In those countries statutory paternity leave and parental leave
are not the novelty they are in the UK and have been in place for a number of
years, and they are also offered with some pay. Childcare provision is better

when it comes to formal equal opportunities policies as a whole, UK employers
are keeping pace with, and even overtaking, other European organisations. Nine
out of 10 UK employers have a written equality policy. Only Swedish employers
are more systematic in this area, and they are obliged to do so by law.

French employers who are bound by one of the earliest attempts to establish
workplace equality between men and women, including an annual equality plan,
clearly have little pressure put on them to comply.

But also countries generally associated with an active
commitment to workplace equality, such as the other Nordic economies, are
usually much less likely to do this in a framework of written equality

organisations are also more likely than employers in most other European
countries to include sex, race and disability discrimination in their formal
equality policies. Elsewhere such policies are more likely to focus exclusively
on gender. Why such differences?

UK approach reflects closer links with the US tradition in that race is covered
as opposed to only gender inequality. And, as in the US, apart from equality
law, employment statute is comparatively minimal. The absence of strong
legislation in the field of dismissal, trade union rights or statutorily
enforced collective bargaining has made equality of opportunity litigation and
awareness much greater.

Cranet Survey on International Strategic Human Resource Management is an
independent comparative study coordinated by Cranfield School of Management. It
is conducted by a network of 30 business schools globally. In the 1999-2000
round of the survey, 4,500 organisations in western and central Europe with 200
or more employees responded. For more information, contact Sarah Atterbury on
01234 751122,

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