Post-Brexit pro-discrimination - Managing Equality and Diversity in the workplace

Posted 03/09/2019 : By: Kathryn Pratt

Three years after the UK’s decision to leave the EU, we continue to see a split in society and the profound feelings of some areas in opposition to immigration and the future rights of foreign citizens to live and hold employment in the UK. Since the 2016 Brexit referendum, hate crime based upon race, religion and sexual orientation has increased.

The Home Office reported in 2017/18, there were 94,098 hate crime offences recorded by the police in England and Wales, an increase of 17% from the previous year. The five centrally monitored strands are Race, Religion, Sexual Orientation, Disability and Transgender. Around seven per cent of hate crime offences in 2017/18 were estimated to have involved more than one motivating factor, with the majority of these hate crimes relating to both race and religion.

However, the violence seen after the Brexit vote was not restricted to racial or religious hostility. Homophobic attacks increased by 147% in the three months following the Brexit vote, according to reports by an LGBT anti-violence charity.

These figures are worrying and may sadly be indicative of how Brexit has had a huge effect on British society. Which leads us on to thinking about whether it has made a difference to equality and diversity in the workplace.

What protection do employees have in the UK’s diverse workforce?

The Equality Act 2010 provides the UK with a discrimination law, which protects employees and job applicants from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society. Employees are protected from less favourable treatment in the workplace from their employers on the grounds of:

  • sex
  • race
  • disability
  • sexual orientation
  • religion or belief
  • age.

Employers are also vicariously liable for the actions of both their management team and their employees that could amount to discrimination or victimisation. 

How can employers manage equality and diversity better to prevent discrimination happening at the workplace?

Organisations should have Equality and Diversity policies in place to ensure fair treatment for all employees and to prevent discrimination. However, it is not enough to simply have a policy in place. Employers should communicate and promote their policy to employees on a regular basis and provide training for managers and employees. 

Effective training helps reduce discrimination in the workplace, identify issues early and improve organisational compliance with the law.

Please contact us if you have any questions related to the issues raised in this article. We can also provide a practical workshop on Equality and Diversity should you require further support.


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