Sophi Berridge: Equality and inclusion in the workplace leads to a more equal society

In many organisations, the secrecy that surrounds pay spawns a workplace of exclusion and division. Such employers adopt high risk recruitment practices, requiring a candidate’s previous job salary on its application forms; not advertising a clear ‘rate for the job’; and leaving details such as name, age, sex and gender on applications when submitting them to a recruitment panel. Such practices encourage bias, conscious or otherwise, even before employees walk through the door.

Once recruited, employees can be subject to a system where arbitrary promotions and rewards are allocated at the whim of an individual manager and where inequality flourishes through a culture of silence. Generally, the losers here are women, ethnic minorities and those with disabilities. The most recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows the median gender pay gap at 17.3% (2019), the median ethnicity pay gap at 2.3% (2019) and the median disability gap being 12.2% (2018).

Forward-thinking employers however are devising solutions to create and promote inclusive workplaces in order to maximise productivity, attract new talent and increase employee commitment. Their core values include a commitment to equality, human rights and inclusive working, not as a meaningless brand tagline but as a living reality for their employees.

Compiling and analysing data on staff by age, gender, ethnic group, religion or belief, sexual orientation and disability, can shine a light on areas where discrimination might lurk. Considering the salaries, rates of progression, retention and exit rates of different groups helps employers to confront any issues head on.

Employers that wish to operate in a diverse and inclusive environment are open and honest about their pay structure and have a clear system of rewards and benefits that employees not only understand, but have helped to shape.They seek help from outside organisations, develop better workplace policies and practices to promote equity and train staff to recognise bias. Job evaluation systems are reviewed regularly and employers genuinely consult with workers to ensure that people are paid for the work they do, rather than who they are.

Sophi Berridge is senior campaigns manager at The Equality Trust