Companies run risk of diversity claims

Employers risk facing discrimination claims from staff because they are
failing to communicate their equal opportunities policies and are not keeping
pace with legislation.

A survey of 1,100 employers by law firm Pinsent Curtis Biddle reveals that
many firms are becoming complacent about equality and diversity and are being
challenged at tribunal by employees.

The survey shows that although most firms have equal opportunities policies
in place they are rarely reviewed. They are failing to actively promote them to
staff and fail to keep pace with changes in legislation.

According to the the poll, more than 30 per cent of firms don’t review
policies regularly, only 53 per cent have diversity training and just 2 per
cent report their policy as ‘very effective’.

At the same time companies are becoming more vulnerable to employment
tribunal claims. The number of disability claims has increased over the last
three years and sex discrimination claims doubled last year.

Ashley Norman, a diversity specialist at Pinsent Curtis Biddle, said the
approach to equality issues by employers was "worryingly reactive".
He stressed that simply having an equal opportunities policy in place was not a
safeguard against a claim.

"There are beacons of best practice but, in the main, employers have
allowed this complex area of law to get away from them. Employers who pay scant
regard to legislation are putting themselves and their staff at risk," he said.

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