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Want to stay on the right side of the law? We support businesses and public authorities and help them to promote good practice.

Equal Opportunities

Become an Equal Opportunities Employer - the 12 easy steps

What you need to know

How to become an Equal Opportunities Employer - 12 easy steps

It is important to remember that being an equal opportunities employer is a process, not a one-off event, and it needs continuous commitment and work if it is to succeed.

The 12-steps are:
1. Declare that you are an equal opportunities employer and adopt employment policies which show your commitment to that principle (see our Model Policies page).

2. Introduce an anti harassment and bullying policy and seek to promote a good and harmonious working environment.

3. Recognise that some people have disabilities and that they may be disadvantaged by your policies, practices and procedures or by the physical features of your premises and commit to making reasonable adjustments to remove or minimise those disadvantages.

4. Ensure that your recruitment and selection procedures are fair and are founded on the principle of objectively selecting the best person for the job.

5. Ensure that employment policies, practices and procedures reflect your commitment to equality. For example, working patterns should allow flexibility for those who have caring responsibilities and those with disabilities.

6. Deal promptly and seriously with any complaints of discrimination and harassment or bullying that you may receive.

7. Lead by good example. Show that you take the commitments outlined in your equal opportunity policies seriously by consistently applying them yourself. This should be done not merely by yourself and your senior managers but by all your line managers.

8. Seek the support of your workforce and their trade union representatives, in your efforts to promote equal opportunities. This can make it easier to implement your policies in practice.

9. Get your message across. Inform your managers and employees about how you expect them to behave and about the importance of complying with your employment policies. Be proactive: speak to your employees too and check that they know what you expect of them.

10. Provide training in equal opportunities that is appropriate to each employee’s role. This is another aspect of getting the message across. It is important that all employees, but especially those with supervisory responsibility and those who make recruitment and selection decisions, are familiar with equal opportunities principles and with your policies and procedures;

11. Monitor how you provide equal opportunities and how your policies are operating by collecting data about the profile of your workforce, applicants and appointees in terms of characteristics such as community background, sex and disability and, review and analyse the data periodically.

12. Take positive or affirmative action, where appropriate; e.g. where your analysis of monitoring data reveals that certain groups are under-represented in your workforce or are experiencing disadvantages compared to other groups. By doing so, you may be able to correct those problems, increase the diversity of your workforce and better promote equality of opportunity in your employment.

For further information download:

Download our employment equality law update (April 2016, pdf, 2.46mb) - This newsletter is produced by the Equality Commission and the Labour Relations Agency and focuses on equality and employment law from a Northern Ireland perspective.


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