Employers in the travel industry know that they have to prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace and also promote diversity, inclusion and equality. However the balance of competing views is not always easy and is often the cause of conflict and litigation. You’re probably thinking how can there possibly be conflicting views, when DEI has fairness, equality and inclusion at its roots? Let’s look at the Gender Critical belief as one example, namely the belief that a person can’t change their sex, which has been found to be capable of protection under the Equality Act 2010 as a philosophical belief. This belief could potentially lead to a difference of opinion in the workplace, with those who hold beliefs in gender reassignment or sexual orientation etc. There have also been numerous well publicised cases in the press, for example religious ministers being asked to carry out same sex marriage ceremonies.
Managing difference of opinions in the workplace is difficult at the best of times, but can also lead to litigation where such beliefs are protected under the Equality Act 2010, if not managed properly or the employer has not put into place reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Set out below are a few tips for employers to consider;
- Developing a culture of respect & dignity is really important as this will breed a culture where discriminatory behaviour will not be tolerated.
- Having a policy in place to prevent discrimination is not enough, it’s no use to anyone if it is hidden away in your staff handbook. It needs to be brought to life and to your employees attention. Case law has also shown that staff will need to be regularly trained, it’s not enough to roll out discrimination training every few years.
- In terms of your own workplace policies if there is potential that they could cause conflict or be discriminatory, you will need to clearly demonstrate not only the legitimate aim that you are trying to achieve, but also that the policy you have adopted is a proportionate means to achieve that legitimate aim, having considered alternative options.
- An easy win is to use language carefully, by using gender neutral language in drafting your workplace policies and procedures.
- Social media can be a common breeding place for conflicting views to arise, and whilst as an employer you can’t ultimately control what staff post on their own personal social media sites, you can as part of developing an inclusive workplace culture, provide staff with guidance in social media policies about sharing their own views on social media with their workplace colleagues that could be controversial, and the impact this could have in turn on the workplace.
- It’s becoming quite trendy to declare pronouns, but staff should not be forced to do this, it should be a matter of staff choice.
- Finally, it’s worth remembering that one protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 will not trump the other, they are not ranked there is no hierarchy – they are all equal!
Good luck with your DEI journey and remember; it is always an evolving process!
If you do need any help and support please feel free to reach out to;
0113 258 0033
This article was originally published on: 28 November 2022