Discrimination in the workplace takes many forms. It can be related to either race, age, gender, religion or sexual orientation. This was previously driven by moral or ethical grounds and public relations. In the past, many people who don’t fall into the common bracket have found it difficult to actually find jobs, then to cope with the opposition they face once their diverse lifestyle is public knowledge.
However, in recent years, the huge cultural shift in Britain has led to a greater demand for acceptance. The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation), updated in April 2007 was introduced for the sole purpose of preventing discrimination on the grounds of sexual preference. Many companies are readily implementing structures to accomodate with the realisation that the right employee can come from any walk of life. The result being that not only is equality being observed as it should but companies are thriving with the added skills being brought in.
In 2006, the population of London was just over seven and a half million. According to statistics, 10% of that number are from the gay and lesbian community. If the members of that community are discriminated against, thats 750,000 potential workers with untapped skills and talents that could just be what your company needs to thrust it forward into a more competitive position.
Many companies are realising that, not only do they have to comply with the law but it is actually a massive benefit to them to do so. Skilled people come from all walks of life and bring their own unique talents with them. When you look at services like the police force, it also has a wider community benefit as minority groups do not feel alienated and can actually relate to these organisations and feel they are more understood.
According to a study composed by the BBC into what companies are doing about diverse recruitment they found that Penguin Books are actively hiring from minority backgrounds. First ScotRail discovered that of the 900 train drivers they employ, 879 of them are men. To redress the balance, they are looking into diverse recruitment to encourage women to apply.
Diversity recruitment is also a growing business in itself. Helping companies to become more aware of the whole LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community and bringing their skills and available workers to the attention of organisations looking to employ staff from all walks of life – thus widening their potential as a business.
The Home Office are setting a fine example in this
regard. After requesting the help of a diverse recruitment company to assist them in attracting applications from minority groups to enlist in the prison service, their target of 7% of candidates from alternative backgrounds jumped to 52% of actual applicants. It is taking time for the lesbian and gay community to trust employers but these figures show that things are moving in the right direction.
London Fire Service also recognise the benefits of recruiting from the wider community and launched a campaign to attract servicemen and women specifically from the gay community. Using publications and websites particularly aimed at the recruitment of gay people the diversity of the work force has increased tremendously.
Barclays, Selfridges and The Royal Navy are also helping to dispel the discrimination of minority groups by actively seeking out skills and talent using diverse recruitment and leading the way for smaller companies to follow.