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In this unit we are asked to make a report regarding on the importance of effectively managing equality and diversity and dynamics of leading and managing equality and diversity. In order to achieve this, we are given 2 task to complete which includes the analysis of the legal requirements relating to equality within the chosen organisation; evaluation of the implications of guidance and codes of practice; analysis of policies and procedures that need that needs to be place to promote equality and diversity and the needs and expectations of stake holders in relation to the organisation’s policy on equality and diversity. The second task is about explaining the practical aspects of promoting equality and diversity within the organisation and to stakeholders and of addressing equality and diversity issues.
Through this paper I would try point out some aspects in understanding the importance of equality and diversity as core values in healthcare business organisation. What are the elements to be considered for effective organisational equality and diversity management? What does the organisation gain in the practice of equality and diversity? What must be done to ensure commitment in leading business organisational equality and diversity?
In the care home that I used to work, commitment to equality and diversity help us understand how we treat our customers or service users, the wider public we serve, and one another. And if our policies, processes and interactions based on equality and diversity are fair, inclusive, accessible and responsive we would know the procedure as regards dealing effectively with discriminatory issues. Generally, an excellent customer service and equals high standards on equality and diversity. It is then, useful to grasp the meaning of equality and diversity, some related terms such as code of practice, equality legislation. A better understanding of these terms will help the healthcare organisation commit to better practice of equality and diversity.
“Equality means fostering and promoting the right to be different, to be free from discrimination, and to have choice and dignity and to be valued as an individual, with a right to their own beliefs and values.” This works on the following premises that everyone must be treated fairly. Everyone has the right to have their individual needs be respected. Inequality happens and there must be an effort to deal with discriminatory issues. Employment and services must be available to all. Equality is about fair treatment. Rights, responsibility and anti-discrimination are important parts of equality. And knowledge of the legislative framework on equality will help those disadvantaged obtain opportunities for full participation in the society by imposing legal sanctions against malpractices of this principle.
“Diversity as a word means “varied and different” thus, ‘diversity’ is about more than equality. It is about valuing variety and individual differences. It is creating a culture, environment and practices which respect and value differences for the benefit of society, organisations and individuals.” Diversity acknowledges the fact that individuals and groups have varying backgrounds, perceptions, styles, values and beliefs. Where there are two people there is diversity, for everybody is different. It is a challenge for all of us to understand, value and respect such differences. Diversity is about respecting differences. It is the positive acceptance of the uniqueness and distinctness of each person. Thus, the care home created policies, procedures and practices where the diverse needs of diverse employees and service users are considered.
Equality and diversity are closely connected to one another. For equality means treating individuals in spite of differences. Diversity believes in the unique contribution of each individual and values differences. If we treat persons according to their different needs, we cannot be unfair to them or to others. Where equality and diversity is practiced, equality of opportunity for all is ensured where each individual has chance to attain his potential. Each person must be protected from prejudice and discrimination. Any experience of discrimination on the grounds of our age, race, gender, ability, sexual orientation, religion or belief must be challenged.
The Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 have been merged to become the Equality Act 2010 which has a more consistent approach to comply with the law. Equality 2010 protects individual from discrimination and promotes one’s right to equality such as:
Disability discrimination: Disabled people at work are protected from discrimination. This means that employers: must not treat a disabled person less favourably because of a reason relating to their disability, without a justifiable reason; are required to make reasonable adjustments to working conditions or the workplace where that would help to accommodate a particular disabled person.
In our work place, we have colleagues who have difficulty in writing (dyspraxia). But his skill was really a great help to the group. He was given extra work on the floor while his partner is the one who documented all the personal care that has been given to the service users. The colleagues and the manager are very supportive of him.
Equal pay: Employers must give men and women equal treatment in the termã€€and conditions of their employment contract if they areã€€employed on: ‘like work’ – work that is the same or broadly similar; work rated as equivalent under a job evaluation study or; work found to be of equal value.
In the care home, equal pay was implemented fairly and it is in accordance to your qualifications and the job that you are into. If you work in the caring job, male and female are in the same rate, they only differs if they have more qualification than others like having degrees or NVQ’s.
Part-time employees: The Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 aim to ensure that part-time workers are not treated less favourably than comparable full-timers. Principally, this means they should: receive the same rates of pay; not be excluded from training simply because they work part-time; receive holiday entitlement pro rate to comparable full-timers; have any career break schemes, contractual maternity leave and parental leave made available to them in the same way as for full-time workers and not be treated less favourably when selecting workers for redundancy. In this regard, our care home is following the said legal requirement for part-time employees; they are receiving same as what full time employee is having.
Race discrimination: The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal to treat a person less favourably due to their colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins. Race discrimination covers all aspects of employment – from recruitment to pay, and training to the termination of a contract. The care home that I used to work is a type of organisation that is multicultural; the employees are from different countries and with different culture. But since we are respecting each other and working in one objective of the organisation, the said racial discrimination are being lessen though it is prohibited but sometimes it happens.
If conflicts about any of the rights occur, it is recommended always to resolve the issue to the employer (manager) first. Thus, our employer provide a contract employment for us employee where both parties may agree better terms than those required by legislation. The employer has the obligation to present to the employee a written statement of the main particulars of employment within two months of the beginning of employment. This must include, among other things, details of pay, hours, holidays, notice period and an additional note on disciplinary and grievance procedures.
Another way of resolving any grievance issue is through the help of an independent third party or mediator. Such mediation is a voluntary process whereby the mediator helps both sides to reach an agreement. Any agreement comes from those in dispute, not from the mediator. If an employee believes that an employment right has been denied or infringed, he can make a complaint to an employment tribunal.
It is, indeed important to have a comprehensive grasp of the existing legislative laws to be able to promote equality in the workforce and protect every employee from discrimination. An understanding of the legislative laws will also help in creating good quality guidance to equality and diversity organisational practice. Commitment to equality and diversity means the organization is willing to comply with legislative procedures. Legislative laws not only protect the individual employee but also different stakeholders and service users.
On the other hand, the implication of guidance and code of practice in relation to equality and diversity in healthcare business is to have abetter knowledge and understanding regarding this matter. First what is code of practice? Codes of Practice are golden rules for guidance on legislation which have significant effect on healthcare business. The Code is non-statutory and not legally binding. This means it cannot prevail over mandatory external requirements. Healthcare organisation must abide by this Code of Practice whenã€€producing new guidance or revising existing guidance. This Code of Practice states in simple terms how to create good quality guidance. A good guidance must have a good understanding of the target audience which is diverse and knowing their needs. In our care home, they know the intended service users; the guidance will adapt the most appropriate format and language in preference to their needs. There must be input users and their representative groups like the relatives beforehand. Organising a stakeholder panel and asking advice from concerned representative groups can provide useful resources so that the guidance will be designed and communicated effectively. If the guidance is easy to understand and straightforward then it can be assured that it will be followed correctly. Guidance must be easily accessible to the service users. Guidance will ineffective if no-one reads it. And no matter how well designed a guidance is, each item of the guidance must be reviewed and improved. It must be opened for feedbacks from the service users. Guidance must carry a link where the user can state any inaccuracy about the guidance.
In terms of promoting equality and diversity, it is equally important to develop policies and procedures that will provide clear instructions and guidelines on what must be done in particular issues. Policies and procedures will ensure the well-being of all individuals in the workforce and everyone connected to the organisation by providing a framework of action. They help new members familiarise with the organisation’s working practices and provide them information on what is expected of them. Policies and procedures reflect the main priorities of the organisation which with good practice will ensure good quality service. Policies are also basis for making and monitoring changes in the procedures about moving towards equality and diversity. Equality and diversity policy must provide a framework where commitment to equality and valuing diversity in all aspects of the business organisation are clearly included. The policy must be easily accessible to all those involved in the organisation as regards equal opportunities and services and that the organisation is willing to protect the discriminated and the disadvantaged.
Further more, identifying the needs and the expectations of potential stakeholders will be affected positively or negatively by the implementation of such policy and it is vital. The policy in the care home provides overall mission statement standing for the importance of equality and diversity to our stakeholders. Such statement can be used in publicity, recruitment advertisements, offering quality services to clients. Strategy and action plan must give an outline about how to keep this public promise and how equality and diversity will be implemented. And for an effective policy, it must be developed in consultation all members in the organisation. Action plan must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed. This will include plans for training staff/management committee members and monitoring and evaluating.
In healthcare organisation that I used to work, delivering services must provide appropriate services that meet the needs of the different clients/service users. It is a legal requirement that reasonable adjustments are considered to enable disabled people to use the services offered. The front line workers aware of the diversity of the clients must use inclusive language and provide extra support to meet the needs of the clients. As example maybe offering an appointment with a deaf client by text rather than via phone call or in our care home we provide interpreters for those clients who do not speak English through the use of colleagues who can speak the same language or volunteers with language skills or making appropriate referrals to organisations that can better respond to the needs of the client. We make sure that the needs and preferences of our service users are being met. In so doing, we can achieve the expectations of the stakeholders in accordance to the organisation’s policy on equality and diversity.
Being aware of equality and diversity issues and knowing how to address them is important in ensuring commitment to equality and diversity. For example, in the healthcare sector, an ageing workforce can become a great challenge for employers especially when there is workforce turnover and skills shortage. Policies and procedures reflecting inclusive employment would regard a diverse workforce as an asset where person’s with life experiences can become part of the workforce. Experts have expressed the fact that those employers who value older workers’ skills and experience are better placed to emerge from the recession. Another issue is the religion and beliefs. It can be noted that employees are characterized by predominantly diverse religion and faiths. Religious faith and belief can be relevant to recruitment and retention strategies. However, applying a dress code for all employees can be a disadvantage for some people of particular beliefs. But since equality and diversity are being practice in the care home, they allow staff to wear there turbans for male and bandanas for female.
Discriminatory attitude resulting from stereotyping and prejudice would exclude individuals or groups from employment or services. Sometimes institutional discrimination occurs through policies and procedures which lead to disadvantage of a particular group. It is a legal requirement to have a process called Equality Impact Assessment whereby an organisation reviews one’s services, policies and procedures whether there is a negative impact on an employee or to service user.
Creating a culture committed to equality and diversity means that the everyday goals and behaviour of the organisation includes commitment to equality, human rights and inclusive working. In healthcare sector leadership and accountability is a key to creating a commitment to equality and diversity. Leadership must recognise all aspects of diversity: race, gender identity, disability, age, religion, sexual orientation, part-time workers and persons with alternative working patterns, persons with different educational and social backgrounds, and persons with caring responsibilities. Role modelling of inclusive behaviour in recruitment, development and promotion of staff and readiness to address responsibly discriminatory issues are significant aspects of good leadership committed to equality and diversity. There must be clear and transparent accountability for delivering equality and diversity. Senior leaders must be active equality and diversity champions who create change in culture and attitudes. They must help enhance and sustain equality and diversity in partnerships and collaborations with all stakeholders. They set vision and goals, strategies, daily interactions with trustees, staff, volunteers and service users showing that they value equality and diversity. They must have the capacity to listen and communicate openly with all employees with diverse needs. Effective communication is another important element to consider if the organisation would really promote equality and diversity. It is the capacity to listen and to share information. It is not enough to work efficiently for the organisation. The contribution of each one to further growth process and practice of the business organisation through one’s creativity, innovations and insights means would mean a need for good communication skills. The volume of information in today’s world can be overwhelming. It is important to discern appropriate information needed to understand the perspective of different stakeholders. Identifying/reviewing stakeholders’ expectations/needs and reconciling differences through networking would mean a high-level approach for communication. Methods of communication in a networked world have become challenging: training program on virtual negotiation; communication with increasingly diverse service users; good networking with different groups who promote values of equality and diversity; providing information in different formats. Developing an equality and diversity communication plan which is proactive and outward focused will be useful in promoting public understanding and awareness.
Practicing inclusion means embracing differences and creating an environment where each individual’s rights protected and potentials are valued and respected. This can help attract and retain staff and improve customer or service user satisfaction. It is providing relevant and appropriate access for the participation, development and advancement of all individuals and groups; removing or altering physical barriers so as to provide access to all; avoiding offensive language; improving access to service and workplace for example by changing working patterns or by providing mobile services for those socially isolated and tailoring services to the needs of the clients. Valuing inclusion means no one is discriminated or harassed but rather everyone is treated with respect and dignity. It means that all (e.g. from the senior management to the most junior staff) is involved in the process of creating the culture to commitment to equality and diversity. Everyone is engaged and feels that their insights and experiences are valued.
Reaching diverse group through constructive dialogue with stakeholders both internal (employees) and external (clients, finance sources, local government, NGO’s) can help build more harmonious working relationships. Engaging and allowing them to be partners can contribute to profitability, company image, expense management, and employee morale and customer loyalty. Another thing is through advertisement via internet or giving away pamphlets; when advertising one’s delivery of services, it must aim to be accessible to those in needs. Thus, it is important to think of ways how to reach the most disadvantaged people. This is one way of showing the organisation’s commitment to equality and diversity strategy. Written policies and procedures of the organisation must be easy to read and understand and available in relevant formats. This means avoiding jargon and abbreviation or any word graphics that could cause offence. Plain English Campaign’s website provides good guidance regarding this matter. Having a clear purpose and structure and using easy to read print like Arial or Verdana font with at least 12 point font size for all texts need to be considered, too. When there is a need to produce alternative materials for particularly disadvantaged persons within the target group, it is important to consider large print, Braille, audio cassette, in electronic format by email or CD, or in other languages. Through this we can cater all types of stakeholders who are in need.
With regards to monitoring and reviewing equality and diversity strategy plan, policies and procedures, current equality and diversity training programs, informal or unwritten work practices and arrangement for consultation and participation. This is important to be able to make needed adjustments to the workforce and services. “Equality monitoring is the process of collecting, storing and analysing information about employeesâ€Ÿ and/or clientsâ€Ÿ gender, ethnicity, disability, age, religion, sexual orientation or social class. Monitoring such information allows organisations to ensure it is delivering its services and employment fairly, equally and appropriately to all groups.
To understand the demographic make-up of the workforce and the customers will help identify under-represented groups and find ways to respond to their needs. Reviewing policies will show if there is awareness and good practice on the commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. Monitoring and reviewing are important processes to see if the organisation takes legal responsibilities promptly and seriously and proactively builds a culture of commitment to equality and diversity to all stakeholders. Reviewing staff performances through appraisal against organisational equality and diversity set of objectives and strategy on an annual basis. Monitoring and reviewing through staff surveys, employee networks and forums are some ways of involving and consulting the employees on some key issues affecting them as regards equality and diversity. This can also lead more comprehensive understanding of the needs and expectations of the staff.
Leading an organisation committed to equality and diversity is a great challenge. Collaboration among all members in the workforce and even among the clients is necessary. Understanding equality legislation and putting them into easy to understand equality and diversity policies as well as strategies will ensure good practice. There is a need in creating different committees responsible for the different aspects of promoting equality and diversity.
Since equality issues are very much related with government legislation, it is imperative to update the knowledge of legislation against discrimination. However, Neil Thompson in his book People Skills (2002) affirms that legal compliance is not enough but rather developing a culture where people in the workforce are more aware of the significance of diversity and do take personal responsibility to develop this sensitivity. There is a risk of “alienating” people if one does not learn about others’ perspective and life experiences.
A co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Price with David Trimble, John Hume, says, “Difference is of the essence of humanity. Difference is an accident of birth and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict. The answer to difference is to respect it. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace: respect for diversity.”
Managing organisational equality and diversity can be a very complex task but an effort to good practice is possible if all are motivated to be involved and engaged. This paper is limited in scope in many aspects for it does not document detail accounts of the necessary processes as regards specific aspects of equality and diversity. It is recommended that it is useful to create different committees in the organisation to work on an in-depth study of the different aspects of equality and its concrete application.
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