Ten years ago, the Equality Act 2010 came into force. While it has brought about positive change for vulnerable groups, there is still a long way to go for to achieve a truly fair society. Here, solicitor Lara Kennedy discusses signs to look out for that signal we are on our way to achieving equality.
Significant increase in the number of BAME people in powerful roles
At the moment, only 51 of the most senior 1,097 workplace roles in the UK are held by black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people. This works out at just 4.6 percent of the country’s most top roles. This is despite BAME people making up 13 percent of the population.
To achieve equality in the workplace, we must reflect societal demographics and more BAME people need to hold positions of power.
Bring into force legislation that recognises discrimination of intersectionality
The Equality Act contains a provision to cover direct discrimination on up to two combined grounds, however this section has never been brought into effect.
For example, if a Pakistani Muslim woman was dismissed for wearing a headscarf under the pretext that it was a breach of fire and safety measures, she should be able to bring a discrimination claim that recognises that BAME women face a greater cumulative disadvantage.
Closing of the gender pay gap
It is now compulsory for companies with more than 250 employees to report on their gender pay gap. But reporting hasn’t necessarily resulted in big change.
In 2019, 78 percent of the UKs biggest companies reported a gap, and coronavirus is only making the situation worse.
According to a study by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, mothers are 47 percent more likely than fathers to lose their jobs or quit.
Women need to be given necessary support to juggle being a parent and having a career.
We also need to widen gender pay gap reporting. By only including companies with 250 employees or more a lot of pay disparity is slipping under the radar.
Giving transgender people the recognition they deserve
Two years ago, the government set out plans to allow people to self-identify as a different gender without a medical diagnosis but these changes have now been axed.
While the government did announce cutting the £140 cost of applying for a gender recognition certificate to a ‘nominal amount’ in England and Wales, this falls short of any meaningful change that would make it easier for transgender people to go about their daily lives.
Raising public awareness around hidden disabilities
While it is widely understood that discriminating against somebody because of a disability is illegal, many people will not know about hidden disabilities such as endometriosis, Cron’s and cystic fibrosis.
In order to create a fair society, we need to educate ourselves and others about hidden disabilities, how these may impact people and the support we can offer.
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