Research with employability projects has found employability
advisers view equalities as a very important part of their work.
Employability projects are aware of barriers to employment for
different equality groups including women and people with
disabilities although the issues are perhaps more likely to
have been addressed in isolation, with the development of projects
focused on specific areas of disadvantage such as disability or
gender. Nowadays, there tend to be fewer targeted projects and so
employability services need to become adept at addressing multiple
and complex needs for all clients.
Services need to ensure they are accessible to all people by
- equality of opportunity - ensuring different groups with
different needs do not experience barriers to accessing services;
- equality of outcome - ensuring services meet the needs of
people who experience disadvantage or inequality so they achieve
the same outcome as people from other communities or
Public services have a duty to eliminate discrimination and
promote equality. In this section we cover these duties briefly and
also highlight how employability services can become more proactive
about promoting equality. The information should help services
consider how well they are achieving racial
Legislation and Compliance
Act (2010) is the main piece of legislation that addresses
discrimination and inequality in the UK. It brought together nine
separate pieces of legislation into one single Act, simplifying the
law and also strengthening it in many ways. The majority of the
provisions came into force in October 2010, with others coming into
force in 2011 and 2012. The below lists the nine
characteristics protected under the Equality Act (2010).
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
Of direct relevance to minority ethnic groups are the provisions
on racial discrimination. Race is defined as including colour,
nationality and ethnic or national origins. Discrimination on the
grounds of any of these is unlawful.
The law prohibits discrimination relating to any of the
protected characteristics whether direct or indirect. Individuals
who feel they have been discriminated against on any of the above
grounds can bring an action in court against the perpetrator. The
law also prohibits victimisation of persons who have brought action
against a perpetrator or given evidence in connection with
proceedings under the Act.
The Act prohibits discrimination across a broad range of areas
including employment, the provision of goods and services to the
public and the exercise of public functions.
The Public Sector Equality Duty is one of the
provisions of the Act. It came into force in April 2011. Under this
provision, public bodies (and others discharging public functions,
such as third sector organisations):
- have a general duty to eliminate discrimination, harassment,
and victimisation; and
- should promote equality of opportunity and to foster good
Further specific duties require public bodies to publish
relevant, proportionate information showing compliance with the
Equality Duty and to set equality objectives designed to enable the
better performance of the general duty. An example of this, which
relates to employability is given in the box below.
|In April, 2013 North Lanarkshire Council published
equality outcomes in line with public sector equality duty. It
developed a specific outcome to improve the job prospects for Black
and minority ethnic people: "The job prospects for black and
disabled people are improved" Another outcome which impacts on job
prospects is: "More disabled and BME people are taking part in
Community Learning and Development activities through improved
access and support". The Council is developing a performance
management framework for these outcomes which will outline key
activities, timescales and measures to measure progress to
achieving these outcomes.
Remaining Compliant with the Equality Act
A broad underlying principle in the Equality Act (2010) which
providers of public services need to consider is that everyone must
be treated with dignity and respect. The following are some
specific things employability services need to be aware of to
What Constitutes Direct Discrimination?
In services and public functions when a person is treated less
favourably than another person because of a protected
characteristic this is considered to be direct discrimination.
A Practical Example
An employability adviser refuses to provide advice to Nana who is
an African woman on the assumption that she will not be
able to understand the information because of her ethnicity.
This is a case of direct discrimination.
Direct discrimination can also occur when a person is treated
less favourably because of a protected characteristic even though
that person does not have the characteristic themselves. This
includes a person being treated less favourably because they have
links or associations with someone who has a protected
A Practical Example
Khalid is Julie's partner. Julie is unemployed and trying to get
support from an employability agency. Khalid is Somali and as a
result Julie is treated less favourably by advisers at the
This is discrimination because of association with an minority
Direct discrimination also includes discrimination because a
person is wrongly perceived to have a particular protected
What Constitutes Indirect Discrimination?
Indirect discrimination occurs when there is a rule, a policy or
practice which applies to everyone but which disadvantages those
with a particular protected characteristic. Indirect discrimination
can be justified as lawful if it can be shown that the rule, policy
or practice is intended to meet a legitimate objective in a fair,
balanced and reasonable way. When considering introducing a new
rule or policy, it is important to consider whether there are other
ways you can meet your objectives that would not have a
|A Practical Example
An employability agency has a policy of informing clients about
jobs and training opportunities by telephone in English only. This
makes it difficult for many ethnic minority clients, who do not
speak English, to access information. Unless the service can
justify its policy of informing clients only in English and by
telephone as being a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate
aim, this can be considered to be indirect discrimination.
Harassment occurs if the conduct of the person harassing is
unwanted and has the effect of creating an intimidating, hostile,
degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person
being harassed. It is unlawful to harass somebody because of their
race. If the person is then treated less favourably because he or
she rejects or submits to the conduct this could also be seen as
|A Practical Example
Fumi, a Black woman is waiting at a local project when she
overhears two members of staff making racially abusive comments. As
this conduct was unwanted and it made her feel humiliated and
degraded, she can bring a claim of harassment.
Victimisation occurs when someone is treated less
favourably/badly because they have taken an action in relation to
the Equality Act, such as making or supporting a complaint or
raising a grievance about discrimination, or because it is
suspected that they have taken or may take such action. A person is
not protected from victimisation if they have maliciously made or
supported an untrue complaint.
|A Practical Example
Aisha makes a formal complaint against her employability adviser
that they have discriminated against her because of her Asian
background. The complaint is resolved through the agency's
grievance procedures. However, as a result of making the complaint
the adviser has refused to provide support for Aisha.
This is a case of victimisation.
Some people with protected characteristics are disadvantaged or
under-represented in some areas of life or have particular needs
linked to their characteristic. They may need extra help or
encouragement if they are to have the same opportunities as
everyone else. The positive action provisions in the Equality Act
allow public sector organisations to take reasonable steps to help
people tackle their disadvantages or to meet their needs.
Employability services then can take action to encourage people to
access their services or put services in place that meet the
different needs of some groups. The example below shows how
positive action can be taken in an employability context.
The Roma Employability Project delivered by Jobs & Business
Glasgow worked with local community organisations to
reach clients. They had to adapt their provision to meet the needs
of clients, with poor English literacy. Instead of class based
training they emphasised hands on training, volunteering and work
placements to showcase clients' skills and abilities to potential
employers. They also support clients in an holistic way including
offering language support, advocacy, assistance with benefits and
IT support. Clients are also signposted for specific money advice
with regards to debt. All of this has helped to engage clients
See a full case study of the Roma Project here.
A critical aspect of promoting equality is having robust
monitoring in place to identify who is using the service. Services
should collect data on ethnicity to identify whether there are
differences in engagement and outcomes across ethnic groups.
All employability partnerships and services should be incorporating
monitoring of ethnicity into their client monitoring systems. This
allows services to identify how many people are engaged and whether
anything needs to be done to improve rates of engagement. Outcomes
across clients groups should also be monitored so corrective action
to improve services and outcomes can be taken. Data on gender
should also be collected in view of the specific difficulties faced
by minority ethnic women in the labour market.
What to Monitor
The categories used in the Census are most useful for ethnic
monitoring as this allows comparison and covers all ethnic groups.
Ethnicity should be recorded for all clients who join an
employability service. Existing arrangements should be
examined to identify:
- where monitoring data is currently insufficient;
- where this could be improved upon; and
- what will happen to monitoring data after it has been
The categories for the most recent census (2011) are shown below
and can be incorporated into client records systems.
The information can be obtained by asking: What is your ethnic
See: Scotlands Census website
What Should be Done With the Information?
This information can provide a basis for further investigation
into why there are different rates of engagement and outcome for
different ethnic groups than might be expected. An example of
how to approach this is given in the box below.
Capital City Partnership record
and monitor the ethnicity of all clients who join their services by
recording this information on their Caselink client monitoring
system. They use the Census categories as this allows a useful
comparison of their client data. Recently, they compared Census
data for Edinburgh with their client caseload. Ideally, it would be
good to compare activity rates and unemployment for different
groups but this information is not yet available. Instead, they
looked at the population data. Using the 2011 Census they
- 23.9% of their clients described themselves as white: other
although the population of Edinburgh has only 2.1% who describe
themselves as white: other. The partnership is engaging more people
from this group than would be expected.
- Only 3.4% of the client caseload are from an Asian background
although 5.5% of the population of Edinburgh has an Asian
background. Fewer people from this group are being engaged than
would be expected.
- People from other ethnic groups also achieved fewer outcomes
compared to white: Scottish people.
This information has therefore highlighted areas the Partnership
can investigate further to find out why there are differences in
engagement rates and outcomes.
For more information see Ethnicity Profile of Caseline (Employability)
Clients - Summary of Findings document.
There must be commitment to report equalities data. It is
important to have a procedure for addressing equalities issues that
are identified through monitoring and reporting. Action
should involve setting specific targets for equalities groups in
relation to engagement and outcomes.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission published a
useful guide on ethnic monitoring for public authorities which
outlines the rationale for monitoring and how to do it.
Equality Impact Assessment
Equality impact assessments (EIA) can be conducted to ensure any
new policy or programme will not have an inadvertent negative
effect on equality groups. The starting point is recognition that
people have different needs and requirements - it is not sufficient
to treat everyone the same; services must take into account the
potential differential impacts of changes to policy or services. An
EIA involves gathering information to assess the possible impact of
a service. If a policy or service change involves people it is
likely that an EIA needs to be carried out.
EIA generally has 10 steps as outlined below.
Step 1 is defining the aims of the policy or
service - what is it designed to achieve? How will the needs of
different groups be integrated into its aims and objectives? Who
will benefit and how?
Step 2 is setting out what is already known
about the diverse needs and experiences of the target group. This
will help to understand the effects of the policy or service -
positive and negative. This information could include statistical
evidence or research evidence. It is important to consider the
implications of any findings from this information carefully - if
the research suggests that there may not be an impact or only a
small impact, does this need further investigation?
Step 3 involves looking at this evidence and
deciding what else is needed. Are there any gaps in the
evidence collected? Does further analysis need to be carried
out? Is there enough information to proceed?
Step 4 is using the information to assess how
different groups will be affected. Will any groups be
excluded? Will the proposed changes be beneficial to some or all
groups? Will there be any adverse effects and if so could this
amount to unlawful discrimination?
Step 5 is deciding whether there is a need for
any change to the service or policy to avoid adverse impacts. What
action can be taken? Who will take that action? When should it be
Step 6 involves thinking about how the policy
or programme provides an opportunity to promote equality and good
relations. An EIA is not just about identifying negative impacts,
but also about where there are opportunities to make things
Step 7 is rating the impact - whether it will
be high, medium or low on equality groups - the high can include a
mix of positive and negative impacts.
Step 8 looks at whether a further impact
assessment is required.
Step 9 is setting out how the impact of the
policy or service will be monitored to ensure adverse impacts are
avoided and positive impacts realised. Data requirement, how often
they will be collected and how they will be analysed should be
Step 10 is signing off and publishing the
Equalities training can help employability practitioners feel
more confident they are taking the right approach. Training
can be provided for all staff members as part of induction and also
offered as continuing professional development but it should be
tailored to roles within the organisation.
Good equalities training results in staff having a better
understanding of their role in promoting equality and feeling more
confident about their capacity to work with equalities groups
including minority ethnic clients. Training should:
- allow staff to increase knowledge and understanding of equality
- provide them with the right information to help them to deal
with day to day issues;
- allow them to integrate this into their day to day
There is a range of organisations that can provide equality and
diversity training including organisations which work with ethnic
minorities, academic institutions, local authorities and private
trainers. Many will tailor training to meet your organisation's
particular needs. When planning training look for the
following to be included.
- Promoting equality and diversity and raising interest in these
- Raising awareness of the legal context.
- Identifying the business case for equalities.
- Increasing knowledge of the Equality Act (2010).
- Helping staff to understand key concepts such as direct and
- Helping staff explore their own views, for example around
stereotypes, and how they can lead to discrimination.
- Identifying action that can be taken both within the
organisation and with clients.
Training on its own will be insufficient to embed equality into
services. Mechanisms to support staff must be put in place. The European Social
Fund Equality and Diversity Good Practice Guide - Ethnic Minority
Communities, highlights common features of employability
projects which have a good approach to promoting equality and
diversity. These are listed below.
- A good understanding of equality and diversity and the
communities they support.
- Have secured community buy - in to encourage the engagement of
- Have a robust and fair approach to assessment and development
- Have relevant processes and partnerships in place to support
participants into employment.
- Ensure there is ongoing monitoring and evaluation to continue
that support for those in employment.