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What is equality?

Equality can be defined as when we ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity, making the most of their talents and being able to make the most of their lives. They should have these opportunities regardless of who they are.

This includes their race, their age, their gender identity, their disability and their religion too. Everyone should have access to the things that they may need to improve their lives.

What is diversity?

Diversity is a key part of ensuring that we are equal. Diversity can be seen when we have a range of people coming together. This could be in a workplace, an educational facility or anywhere else that brings people together.

For it to be truly diverse you are going to want to ensure that the people are a variety of races, ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, cultural backgrounds and interests too.

What is inclusion?

Inclusion should be seen as a fundamental human right for every single person on the planet. Inclusivity embraces all people. No matter their needs, background or ethnicity and ensures that they have he same opportunities that everyone else has.

Another key aspect of inclusion is to ensure that we do our best as people to remove intolerance toward certain groups of people and ensure that everyone is treated with respect.

Why is equality and diversity important?

Image of diversity Learn Q Equality and Diversity in The Workplace blogEquality and diversity should just be something that we all try to do. After all, we all want to be treated in a way that is respectful and kind, which is also the way that we should treat others around us too.

If we follow the rules of both of these things then all people, no matter who they are, will be treated as equal to someone else. They will feel that they are a part of the world around them and that they are included and accepted.

In fact, to truly be inclusive, we should be making an effort to celebrate just how different the world can be and understand the amazing things that can bring for us all.

How does the law promote equality and diversity?

When it comes to promoting equality and diversity there are two main pieces of legislation that need to be followed and adhered to. These are the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998.

Over time these have replaced many of the laws that were seen in previous Acts, including the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Although, in certain circumstances, these Acts can still be relevant.

Benefits of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

There are a whole host of benefits that can come from ensuring that you embrace equality, diversity and inclusion.

It ensures that everyone, no matter who they are and their background, will have access to the same things as others around them. They will not feel that they are overlooked or that they are missing out on opportunities that will help them progress through life.

In the working world, embracing equality, diversity and inclusion means that you are going to be able to bring a wealth of talent into your business. You will be seen to be taking care of those around you and this will help you to be appealing to potential clients and customers alike.

The Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 was created to legally protect people from discrimination. Both while they were working and also throughout the wider society. Whilst there were previously anti-discrimination laws in place, the 2010 Act replaced them all and ensured that both equality and diversity were as easy to understand and the rules could be followed.

The key principle of the Equality Act 2010 is that it is unlawful to discriminate against or to victimise anyone who is seen to have one of the recognised protected characteristics. These are outlined within the Act and are something that we should all be aware of.

Equality Act 2010: Protected Characteristics

So, what are these protected characteristics as set out by the Equality Act 2010?


The protected characteristic of age applies to all ages. Not just those who are older. It is true that many older people will worry about finding it harder to move back into work or to find a new role, but this is largely down to social perceptions of them, rather than it actually being a true representation.

Older people often worry that they will be seen as unable to understand or keep up with the latest technology and this could mean that they are overlooked for key roles. They may also be concerned that they will not be selected for roles because they may not have “as long left to work” however, with the retirement age no longer at a default, you can work as long as you choose to.

For younger people, it is often thought to be harder for them to get job roles because they don’t have the right level of experience, either in the job role or in their life. However, they will not learn unless they are given the chance to. This means that younger people should be considered for roles as equally as others.


Disability is recognised as being an impairment, either physical or mental that has a long-term effect on how well you are able to carry out your everyday activities. This should be something that is long-term. Which means that it has been recurring for over a year.

Over recent years, things that we may not have seen as being classed as a disability, such as cancer or MS will now be seen as a disability and will become a part of the protected characteristics that should be adhered to.

The Act has identified that it is important to make sure that everyone has access to the same opportunities no matter whether they are disabled or not. They should be able to access the same level as others and if there are barriers that are in their way, then these should be identified.

Once identified, reasonable adjustments should be made to ensure that those who are disabled are able to access the things that those who are not can.

Gender reassignment

Gender reassignment, as the name suggests, is when someone decides that they do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. This means that they reassign and reidentify their gender to another.
It is important to recognise that someone can reassign their gender without any need for surgical interventions, it is more about how they feel and how they want the world around them to see them.

It is not a short process and to fully transition through gender reassignment can take many years.

As a protected characteristic people should recognise the pronouns that the person wishes to use and be respectful of this. They should be encouraged to use the correct pronouns and as such, persistent use of the wrong pronoun, when given guidance on what to use, should be seen as and treated as harassment.

Marriage and civil partnership

When someone marries another person then they should be recognised as such, regardless of who it is that they have chosen to marry. Any marriage or civil partnership should be treated in the same way and this includes ensuring that everyone is recognised and respected for the marriages and partnerships that they have entered into.

Pregnancy and maternity

It is important that women who are pregnant are protected from both direct and indirect discrimination that relates to their pregnancy. The same is true for those who have a newborn baby or a very young child that requires their care.

As a part of this protected characteristic, these people should be allowed to exercise their rights to maternity leave as well as the rights that they have to secure new job roles, be considered for promotions and also be able to access key development opportunities whilst they are pregnant.

Another aspect of the Act is that it ensures that pregnant women in the workplace have their own risk assessment carried out to ensure that they are not carrying out roles that could put them or their unborn child at risk.

This includes physical work, or working with chemicals or medical equipment that could be a danger.


Image of diverse team for Learn Q Equality and Diversity in The Workplace blogThis group covers discrimination against people due to their national identity, skin colour, ethnicity and their nationality too. This will also include certain religious groups such as Jewish people and Sikhs because their religion more often than not will also determine their ethnicity.

It is also important to recognise that a different colour of skin is not always necessary when it comes to race, as the UK Gypsy Travellers are also a protected group.

Race should not play a part in decisions that are made for jobs and for other opportunities around the UK. Everyone should be able to access the same opportunities and be considered for the same things, no matter their racial identity.

That said, there may need to be extra effort taken in some aspects of society to ensure that those from particular groups are encouraged to push themselves to be the very best that they can be.

Religion or belief

This particular characteristic covers all the different religious groups and even covers those that choose no religious belief system.

It has often been the case that the religion that someone chooses becomes a motivator for extremist behaviour, however, this is not true for everyone who belongs to a certain religious community and there should be no judgement against those who are innocent.

It is important to recognise that you may need to avoid setting events or meetings on days that are important for different faiths, as this can mean that certain individuals can be excluded and feel that they are being overlooked.

Another key factor to consider is dietary requirements as these can often be something that is overlooked and it is just as important to think about when it relates to religious beliefs.


Both men and women require protection under the Act. Whilst it is often the case that we think of women being the ones that require protection, men do too need to have their sex protected.

For women there is often an issue that relates to their pay, there is a difference in pay for those who are men to those who are women. In some sectors, this has been as much as 20%. Women are often a lower grade than men too, which has an impact on their pay and progression.

Men are often discriminated against should they wish to pursue a job role that is traditionally seen as being female work. They will often find it harder to branch out into this work, which then means that the number of men doing certain jobs is low. Such as nursing, child care or even working in HR.

The Act also covers harassment that is sexual in its nature, as well as the obvious treatment of those who are of a different sex.

Sexual orientation

This can either relate to a known sexual orientation, or perhaps a perceived one. Either way, sexual orientation should never be a consideration when it comes to whether or not someone should be hired for a role, or they should be given an opportunity in their life. It also covers the use of homophobic language and whether or not they are considered in the same way.

Things have been changing and there have been huge leaps for the LGBTQ+ world, however, there is still a lot that needs to happen in order for everyone to be treated equally no matter their orientation or who they choose to love.

What is an example of intersectionality in diversity?

Some people can face more than one form of discrimination in their lives. For example, a black female is likely to face discrimination both on her race and also her gender. Whereas a black man may only face racial discrimination.

What is an example of intersectionality in social work?

It is important to recognise intersectionality when it comes to social work and how we perceive people socially. A white woman who identifies as a lesbian may find that she has prejudice due to her sexuality and perhaps her gender identity too. However, in society, she is privileged due to her being white.

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