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Home > News > December 2006 > 08 December 2006

Acas survey finds employers confused over equality and diversity issues

According to the latest policy discussion paper published by Acas, there continues to be myths and misconceptions surrounding equality and diversity issues in the workplace.

Acas says 'Back to Basics - Acas' experience of equality and diversity in the workplace' is based on the findings of its frontline staff who have uncovered areas of misunderstandings for both employers and employees. The paper encourages people interested in the issues to contact Acas with their views.

The report found that:

  • Disability is an area employers fear and struggle to understand
  • Employers lack detailed knowledge of their responsibilities towards pregnant women
  • Race discrimination is an area employers find particularly difficult to confront
  • The most common misconceptions about the new age regulations is that they apply to older workers only
  • One of the most difficult types of employer to persuade of the economic benefits of equality and diversity are those organisations that have recently grown from being relatively small to one managing more staff

According to the report, many of the barriers to equality and diversity in the workplace are due to lack of awareness, entrenched attitudes and embarrassment to discuss the issues. The new Acas paper suggests that the best way of tackling the barriers is to start by demystifying the concepts around equality and diversity; provide support for employers to change the attitudes and behaviour of staff and provide more training for managers.

Acas chief executive, John Taylor said: "Our staff work with thousands of employers and employees each year in a neutral, impartial environment so we see the real issues and behaviours in the workplace at ground level. It seems that although there has been improvement in understanding what equality and diversity means in general there are still vast misconceptions about the detail especially among small employers.

"Acas helps employers and employees understand what the equality and diversity rules mean in practice. Whether through our website, helpline, training or free e-learning packages, our guidance helps workplaces benefit from good employment relations."

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