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Equality bill: What effect on training?


The government has announced details of what its forthcoming equality bill will contain.

In the Government Equality Office publication Framework to a Fairer Future, which introduces the bill, Leader of the House of Commons Harriet Harman said the bill would ‘declutter’ existing legislation.

At the moment, existing legislation bans discrimination in the training field but does allow positive action to develop talent within under-represented groups within the workforce. This can include mentoring or development schemes for women and ethnic minorities.

Proposals for the equalities bill include positive discrimination. The example given relates to recruitment and, although ‘fast-tracking’ candidates is mentioned, at the moment it is unclear whether this will make a difference to training.

Research from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has explored issues around race, gender and diversity. Key findings have included ethnic minority groups feeling let down when it comes to skills development, with more Asian (24%) and black (22%) managers reporting ‘inadequate’ or ‘very inadequate’ development than white managers (16%).

The CMI’s chief executive Ruth Spellman said: “Despite increasing demands for openness and transparency many of the barriers to achieving greater diversity at a senior management level persist.

“It should be a key concern for employers because they run the risk of wasting a talent pool that is scarce. Put simply, what this talent thrives on is challenge, to grow, and to achieve. And if the challenge and opportunity goes, so will they.

“The days of a single, linear career are over, but the onus should not just be on individuals to find appropriate new roles. Employers must share this responsibility by helping to build the skills that individuals and businesses will need to succeed in the future.”

Although broadly welcoming the proposals, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s diversity advisor Dianah Worman said: “This bill seeks to simplify existing legislation which can only be a plus for employers but law on its own is simply not enough.

“Government needs to engage employers to take action because it makes business sense. They should publish easily accessible practical guidance for employers to follow, and instigate a national education and awareness campaign with signposts to help and support.”

You can read Framework to a Fairer Future here.


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