Equal Opportunities Policy

Statement and Purpose of Policy:

CommsCo is committed to encouraging equality, diversity and inclusion within our team, and eliminating unlawful discrimination. We aim for our workforce to be truly representative of all sections of society and our clients, and for each employee to feel respected and able to be their true selves in the workplace. Achieving an equal opportunities workplace is a collective task shared between CommsCo and all employees.

In providing PR services, CommsCo is also committed against unlawful discrimination of clients or the public.

This policy’s purpose is to:

  • provide equity, fairness and respect for all in our employment, whether temporary, part-time or full-time and to uphold company values on a day-to-day basis
  • not unlawfully discriminate against Protected Characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality, and ethnic or national origin), religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation
  • oppose and avoid all forms of unlawful discrimination in line with the Equality Act 2010. This includes in pay and benefits, terms and conditions of employment, dealing with grievances and discipline, dismissal, redundancy, leave for parents, requests for flexible working, and selection for employment, promotion, training or other developmental opportunities
  • clarify the responsibilities and duties of all staff in respect of equal opportunities and discrimination

The organisation commits to:

  • encouraging and celebrating equity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace as they are good practice and make business sense
  • taking initiative to solve problems and create a transparent working environment free of bullying, harassment, victimisation and unlawful discrimination, promoting dignity and respect for all, and where individual differences and the contributions of all staff are recognised and valued
  • enabling all staff to work in an environment which allows them to fulfill their potential without fear of discrimination, harassment or victimisation

Who is responsible for equal opportunities?

The policy and the rules contained in it apply to all employees irrespective of seniority, tenure or working hours. CommsCo employees will hold each other accountable for maintaining the values and rules within. The EDI Lead has been appointed as the person with day-to-day responsibility for these matters.

The commitment of equal opportunities includes training managers and all other employees about their rights and responsibilities under the equity, diversity and inclusion policy. Responsibilities include staff conducting themselves to help the organisation provide equal opportunities in employment, and prevent bullying, harassment, victimisation and unlawful discrimination. All staff should understand that they, as well as their employer, can be held liable for acts of bullying, harassment, victimisation and unlawful discrimination, in the course of their employment, against fellow employees, customers, suppliers and the public.

CommsCo takes seriously any complaints of bullying, harassment, victimisation and unlawful discrimination by fellow employees, customers, suppliers, visitors, the public and any others in the course of the organisation’s work activities. Such acts will be dealt with as misconduct under the organisation’s grievance and/or disciplinary procedures, and appropriate action will be taken. Particularly serious complaints could amount to gross misconduct and lead to dismissal without notice.

Further, sexual harassment may amount to both an employment rights matter and a criminal matter, such as in sexual assault allegations. In addition, harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 – which is not limited to circumstances where harassment relates to a protected characteristic – is a criminal offence.

What is discrimination? 

Discrimination occurs in different ways, some more obvious than others:

  • Direct Discrimination refers to less favourable treatment because of one of the Protected Characteristics. It can arise in some cases even though the person subject to the discrimination does not possess the Protected Chatacteristic but is perceived to have it ot associates with other people who do. For example, when a person is less favourably treated because they are (albeit wrongly) believed to be homosexual or because they have a spouse who is Muslim.
  • Indirect Discrimination arises when an employer applies an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice which in fact puts individuals with a particular Protected Characteristic at a disadvantage. To show discrimination the individual affected also has to be personally disadvantaged. This kind of discrimination is unlawful unless nit is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
  • Victimisation is the less favourable treatment of a person because they have made a complaint of discrimination or provided information in connection with a complaint.
  • Harassment consists of:
    • unwanted conduct related to a Protected Characteristic with the purpose of effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them
    • unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them
    • less favourable treatment because of the rejection of or the experience of Sexual Harassment

It may include:

  • use of insults or slurs based on a Protected Characteristic or of a sexual nature or other verbal abuse or derogatory, offensive or stereotyping jokes or remarks
  • physical or verbal abuse, threatening or intimidating behaviour because of a Protected Characteristic or behaviour of a sexual nature
  • unwelcome physical contact
  • mocking, mimicking or belittling a person’s disability, appearance or other personal characteristics
  • unwelcome requests for sexual acts or verbal sexual advances or a vulgar or suggestive nature
  • comments about body parts or sexual preference
  • shunning or ostracising someone to deliberately exclude them
  • “outting” or threatening to “out” someone’s sexual orientation

Harassment can be a single incident or repeated behaviours. It is not necessary for an individual to intend to harass someone for the behaviour to amount to harassment.

  • Disability Discrimination could be direct or indirect and is defined by any unjustified less favourable treatment because of the effects of a disability.

How will CommsCo commit to being an equal opportunities employer? 

CommsCo makes opportunities for training, development and progress available to all staff, who will be helped and encouraged to develop their full potential, so their talents and resources can be fully utilised to maximise the efficiency of the organisation. Decisions concerning staff are based on merit (apart from in any necessary and limited exemptions and exceptions allowed under the Equality Act).

As such, CommsCo commits to

  • making reasonable adjustments in the workplace to accommodate physically challenged employees
  • ensuring that no employee is paid any more or less than any of their colleagues who are equally qualified, equally experienced and performing the same role
  • advertising new roles externally as well as internally so that anyone who meets the qualifying criteria gets the opportunity to apply
  • making sure that no employee is dismissed solely because of a personal characteristic
  • ensuring that the same rules apply to employees from all religions regarding extra time off during religious holidays

CommsCo will review employment practices and procedures when necessary to ensure fairness, and also update them and the policy to take account of changes in the law. Additionally, we monitor the make-up of the workforce regarding information such as age, sex, ethnic background, sexual orientation, religion or belief, and disability in encouraging equity, diversity and inclusion, and in meeting the aims and commitments set out in the equity, diversity and inclusion policy.

This monitoring will also include assessing how the equity, diversity and inclusion policy, and any supporting action plan, are working in practice, reviewing them annually, and considering and taking action to address any issues.

What to do if you encounter discrimination

Every employee has a responsibility to combat discrimination if they encounter is. Employees who observe or are aware of acts that they believe amount to discrimination directed at others should report these to the EDI Lead.

Any grievance reported will be kept confidential so far as this is practicable. It may be asked if it is wished that the complaint(s) be put to the alleged discriminator if disciplinary action appears to be appropriate. It may sometimes be necessary to disclose the complaint or take action even if this is not in line with the employees wishes, however CommsCo will seek to protect employees from victimisation and protect identities if requested.

Making a false allegation deliberately and in bad faith is a misconduct offence.

Review of this policy

The equity, diversity and inclusion policy is fully supported by senior management and has been agreed with CommsCo employees. This is a statement of policy only and does not form part of the contract of employment. This policy may be amended at any time by CommsCo, in its absolute discretion.