Promoting equality in the workplace
The Equality Act obliges every employer to promote gender equality in a purposeful and planned way. This affects both public- and private-sector employers, regardless of the number of employees involved.
Workers' experience of equal and fair treatment influences their levels of motivation and wellbeing at work. According to the Equality Act, and taking into account the resources available and other relevant factors, the employer must do the following:
- act in such a way that job vacancies attract applications from both women and men. When advertising a vacancy, the employer can encourage representatives of the underrepresented gender to apply for the position. Regarding different duties, it has to be considered whether they contain elements that prevent either gender from performing the duties.
- promote the equitable recruitment of women and men in the various jobs and create equal opportunities for them for career advancement. Employees must have opportunities to advance in their careers that match their individual abilities. Gender cannot be the defining factor for e.g. getting to participate in training.
- promote equal working conditions for women and men, especially regarding levels of pay.
- develop working conditions to ensure they are suitable for both women and men. The employer should make sure that there are break rooms for both women and men, as required. Various work sites, methods and equipment can also be developed so that they are more suited for both genders.
- facilitate the smooth functioning of work and family life, paying attention particularly to work arrangements. The employer has the responsibility, to without prejudice, strive to a situation where the employees have equal opportunities to focus on their parenthood. This can sometimes require individual solutions, such as arranging special shifts for single parents or other arrangements regarding working hours. Fathers also have the right to take time off to care for a sick child and to take parental leave and care leave. Men in particular should be encouraged to take family leave.
- act to prevent the occurrence of discrimination based on gender. Employers also have the responsibility to prevent in a purposeful and planned manner all discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression.
Because the employer is responsible for preventing sexual and gender-based discrimination, they should employ all available measures to make sure that their employees are not subjected to harassment. The workplace should draw up a plan in case of harassment.
The employer cannot avoid their equality promotion obligations by appealing to negative attitudes. For example, customer expectations or opposition from their own employers cannot be allowed to prevent equal treatment.