Almost all organisations now have some form of equalities policy, not least because funders and Public Sector bodies who offer grants, service level agreements, tenders or contracts often expect this as a condition of funding. However, an equalities policy alone will not help an organisation to mainstream equalities or to lower the risk of discrimination claims.
To be effective, an equalities policy must be:
- Accurately written, reflecting the organisation’s legal and ethical obligations
- Well communicated to all who must comply with it, on a regular basis (including wider staff development and training on equality)
- Properly enforced, with a zero tolerance approach to discrimination and support to enable people to work in a way that promotes equality
Some organisations choose to have a separate policy dealing with harassment and victimisation, such as a Dignity at Work Policy. This can be beneficial because there are many forms of bullying and harassment that would not be covered by equality law (although employers still have legal obligations under wider equality law, such as the ‘duty of care’ which means they should protect employees from harm).
Participants on the Mainstreaming Equalities Organisational Development Programme have access to guidance and support on equality policies, as well as policy templates.