There is an inclusive and positive culture of continuous learning and improvement. This is based on meeting the needs of people who use services and wider communities, and all leaders and staff share this. Leaders proactively support staff and collaborate with partners to deliver care that is safe, integrated, person-centred and sustainable, and to reduce inequalities.
There are effective governance and management systems. Information about risks, performance and outcomes is used effectively to improve care.
What is equality, diversity, and inclusion?
First used in the early 15th century is ‘the state of being equal’. In modern usage in the UK, equality is about ensuring equality of access, treatment, outcomes and impact in both employment and service delivery. It is rooted in ideas of justice and fairness and enshrined in the United Kingdom Equality Act 2010 (EA10) which highlights that every individual must have an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents. It is also the belief that no one should have poorer life chances because of their background, personal identity or experience.
The achievement of equality of outcomes requires identifying the barriers and biases and taking targeted action (including positive action as permitted under the EA10) to overcome specific inequalities, discrimination, disadvantages and marginalisation experienced by certain groups and individuals including those protected characteristics under the EA10. Inequalities can be manifested through prejudice, oppression and discrimination – direct and indirect – and can be systemic through behaviour, policies, practices and cultures. Equally vital is to identify the EDI benefits for the workforce and business/service delivery which will ensure that the EDI strategy is positively framed to add value to the organisation.
Equality of impact assessments through feedback from discriminated against and marginalised individuals are therefore essential in determining whether the EDI strategy is effective and is achieving the desired outcomes.
Some users of the term equality have associated it with the idea of ‘sameness – same access or treatment’. However, this is a grossly inaccurate interpretation, as sameness is akin to ‘colour blind’ approaches – which can be discriminatory. Equality is not the same as equity. Equity is concerned with the actions taken to achieve a state of equality of outcomes.
Diversity is the differences in colour, ethnicity, abilities, age, gender, beliefs, interests, socioeconomic (class), marital or partnership status, sexual orientation, geographic, academic/professional backgrounds, opinions, backgrounds, thinking, experiences and many other characteristics
Diversity recognises that everyone is different in a variety of visible and non-visible ways, and that those differences are to be recognised, respected, valued, promoted and celebrated. They may include, but are not limited to, differences protected by equalities law.
Research shows that diverse workforces are beneficial for decision making, innovation and problem solving as people bring a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences with them. However, it's important to note that just simple tolerance of difference and having a diverse workforce is not enough - people need to feel empowered, a sense of belonging, and feel safe to contribute their ideas and viewpoints and to achieve their full potential.
Inclusion is the practice of including people in a way that is fair for all, values everyone’s differences, and empowers and enables each person to be themselves and achieve their full potential and thrive at work.
An inclusive workplace culture is one in which everyone feels that they belong through feeling safe in being themselves, that their contribution matters, policies and practices are fair and diverse range of people are supported to work together effectively.
To achieve genuine inclusion there must be positive action, including measures under the Equality Act 2010 to address past, present and potential discrimination and barriers to enable and empower:
The moral case for building fairer and more inclusive labour markets and workplaces is indisputable: recognising and valuing our identity, background or circumstance, we all have a right to the opportunity to develop our skills and talents to our full potential, work in a safe, supportive and inclusive environment, be fairly rewarded and recognised for our work and have a meaningful voice on matters that affect us.
It’s also vital for the sustainability of businesses and economies. Everyone stands to benefit when we embrace and value the diversity of thoughts, ideas and ways of working that people from different backgrounds, experiences and identities bring to an organisation. So, organisations must ensure their people management approaches do not put any group at a disadvantage. People professionals are seen as the guardians and custodians of EDI policy and practice and therefore have a critical role to play in role modelling and championing EDI best practice in their organisation - find out more about this in our Profession Map.
Standards, such as the BSI and ISO human resource management suite and Investors in People (IiP), provide principle-based frameworks and guidelines to help organisations recognise the actual and potential value of their people and ensure their people polices and working practices are bias free. See more on HR and standards.
The concept of ‘intersectionality’ is that we all have multiple, overlapping identities that impact on our experience, including multiple discrimination and disadvantage.
Differences include visible and non-visible factors, for instance, personal characteristics such as background, culture, personality, work-style, accent and language. It’s important to recognise that a ‘one-size-fits all’ approach to managing people does not achieve fairness and equality of opportunity and outcomes for everyone. People have different personal needs, values and beliefs. Good people management practice needs to be consistently fair but also flexible and inclusive to support both individual and business needs.
In the UK, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex and sexual orientation are ‘protected characteristics’ covered by discrimination law to give people protection against being treated unfairly.
For example, ‘neurodiversity’ is a growing area of workplace inclusion. It refers to the natural range of differences in human brain function. Among employers, it’s used to describe alternative thinking styles including dyslexia, autism and ADHD. Together with Uptimize, we’ve produced Neurodiversity at work, a practical guide for employers to help create a neurodiversity-friendly workplace where people can utilise their strengths. Most adjustments are simple and low-cost, but can make a significant difference to an individual’s working life. Listen to our Neurodiversity podcast.