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Workplace progress on equality slow


s00042More companies have equal opportunities policies, but fewer monitor recruitment, pay and promotion.

The latest Workplace Employment Relations Study was released last week.

This government-sponsored research measures areas like employee satisfaction, training, working hours and equal opportunities in public and private organisations of all sizes across the UK.

The report looked at all workplaces with 5 or more employees in the British economy, excluding workplaces in agriculture, forestry, fishing, and mining and quarrying.

It represents 35 per cent of all workplaces and 90 per cent of all employees in Britain; almost 750,000 workplaces and 23.3 million employees.

The study, carried out during 2011-12, found the majority, 51 per cent, of workers in the organisations sampled were women.

Nearly a tenth were from ethnic minorities, nearly a quarter are over 50 and nearly a tenth are foreign nationals.

The number of disabled workers had risen from 1 per cent in 2004 when the last survey was completed, to 2 per cent in 2011.

Three quarters of firms had written equal opportunities policies, compared with 67 per cent in 2004, and in 2011 these were more likely to mention age and sexual orientation.

Fewer mentioned discrimination on the basis of gender – 82 per cent, compared with 87 per cent in 2004.

A third of all workplaces had a strategic plan covering employee diversity with objectives, compared to 29 per cent in 2004.  These were more likely to be in place in large organisations.

However, few employers monitor recruitment, pay and promotion by equality characteristics like age, gender or disability.  Only 3 per cent compare relative pay rates, 7 per cent monitor promotion and 14 per cent monitor recruitment and selection.

Only 8 per cent have special procedures to attract job applicants from women and disabled people, and even less take special measures to attract workers from ethnic minorities and older people.  Fewer companies operate these types of schemes than in 2004.

And a quarter of firms in 2011 offered Equal Opportunities training, compared with a fifth in 2004.

When it comes to flexible working, the picture is mixed.

The proportion of workplaces where some employees were able to work from home or work compressed hours increased between 2004 and 2011.

In contrast, the proportion of workplaces with job sharing or reduced hours fell, and the proportion of employers offering flexitime remained the same.

And more mangers now think it is up to individual employees to manage their work and family responsibilities, 76 per cent in 2011, compared to 66 per cent in 2004.

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