HR Network Conference: Equality In The Workplace
11 May 2017
My colleague, Andy Brady, and I attended an Equality In The Workplace forum last night through in Edinburgh. Diversity – in all shapes and forms – is such a pressing issue for businesses just now.
From the gender pay gap to respect for mental health issues, there is a real need to address any persistent inequalities. Last night’s forum, which was run by the HR Network Leaders Forum, was insightful and inspiring – there were plenty of practical examples listed as to how to redress the balance.
There were so many different examples of discrimination explored: age, disability, pregnancy, race, sexual orientation and gender assignment. Business need to lead from the top and, not only be aware of any potential inequality issues, but be respectful of each of their employee’s needs and beliefs.
This is not the 1950s office any more – women aren’t expected to wear heels and look pretty and there aren’t ‘certain jobs’ for ‘certain people’. As a country, we are increasingly diverse and modern. Our workplaces should be reflective of this.
It was an interactive format last night. We were all given ‘voting buttons’ and asked to provide answer to tricky HR questions about diversity and protected characteristics within the workplace. It was so interesting to see how the audience reacted to certain questions – some of which we definitely just didn’t know the answers to!
It highlighted how far we have come and how much work we still have to do to ensure safe and fair working environments for all.
The panel discussion featured some of the UK’s leading HR and management professionals. They included: Barbara Allison (Director of Communications Ministerial Support and Facilities - Scottish Government), Donald Mackinnon (Director of Legal Services - Law At Work), Catherine Somerville (Campaigns, Policy and Research Manager – Stonewall Scotland), Dougie Graham (WO2 51st Infantry Brigade and Scotland HQ – British Army), Rosie MacRae (HR Service Centre Manager – SSE) and John Nicholson (Leaders Forum Chair).
The panel debated back and forth on the best and most relevant ways to drive diversity forward in Scotland. It was great to hear the experience and opinions of a cross-section of industries. As it said in the event brochure – “Differences in view and perception are important.”
Certainly, many of the guests were tweeting and joining in with the forum, sharing their opinions via social media. You can search for the #hrnc17 to see what the audience thought.
Overall, it is clear that many businesses across Scotland need to implement and maintain a structured focus on diversity and equality. This will surely lead to the very best opportunities for all.
Written By Sam Gardner