Statement of principles
Everyone is responsible for treating others with dignity and respect, without unfair discrimination, and for promoting equality in all matters.
BBSRC is committed to eliminating unlawful discrimination and promoting equality and diversity, enabling all employees to achieve their individual potential in an environment characterised by dignity and mutual respect.
Managers and staff have a joint responsibility to ensure that in the course of their employment no employee or applicant is discriminated against in relation to one or more of the following 'protected characteristics' as defined in the Equality Act 2010: age, sex , race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability, marriage or civil partnership; pregnancy or maternity, gender reassignment or on other grounds which cannot be justified - see also sources of further guidance for additional information at paragraph 6.
All employees of BBSRC are personally responsible for preventing behaviour by themselves that has the effect of being discriminatory, irrespective of the intention behind the behaviour.
Complaints of discrimination, harassment and bullying will be dealt with under the grievance policy ( Section A12c). Acts of discrimination, harassment and bullying will be dealt with under the disciplinary policy ( Section A12b).
All companies and individuals who provide a service on behalf of BBSRC and/or who tender for business with BBSRC will be expected to demonstrate a commitment to equality and diversity. Harassment of employees by third parties on the grounds of sex, age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief or sexual orientation will not be tolerated.
BBSRC has published an equality scheme and actions plan setting out how we will meet our legal duties in relation to the protected characteristics (as outlined above). Our scheme also helps BBSRC take a step towards mainstreaming diversity throughout the organisation and its activities.
Equality is about creating a fairer society where everyone can participate and has the opportunity to fulfil their potential. It is mainly about fair treatment and compliance with legislation (The Equality Act 2010) designed to address unlawful discrimination against those who share a protected characteristic.
Diversity is about recognising and valuing difference in its broadest sense. It is about creating a culture and practices that recognise, respect, value and harness difference for the benefit of members of staff, stakeholders and members of the public.
Direct discrimination means treating someone less favourably than another because of a protected characteristic they have or are thought to have, or because they associate with someone who has a protected characteristic, and which cannot be justified. See also associative and perceptive discrimination below.
Indirect discrimination applies to all protected characteristics and occurs when a condition, rule, policy or practice applies to everyone but disadvantages people who share a protected characteristic without any justifiable reason. For example, all employees are required to work a shift pattern over 7 days but one employee refuses to on religious grounds - the employee is dismissed but claims indirect discrimination on the basis that whilst the policy applied to all, it disadvantaged people who share a certain religion (a protected characteristic).
Associative discrimination is direct discrimination and occurs against someone because they associate with another person who possesses a protected characteristic. For example, an employee’s promotion is declined because their partner has a disability and this is considered to prevent them from being fully committed to their new role.
Perceptive discrimination is direct discrimination against someone because others think they possess a protected characteristic. It applies even if that person does not actually possess that characteristic. For example, an employee is age 45 but looks very much younger and is prevented from representing the organisation at an important international conference because the line manager believes that the individual looks too young.
Victimisation occurs when someone is treated less favourably because they have previously made or supported a complaint under the Equality Act 2010, or because they are suspected of doing so. Protection against victimisation is not provided if the complaint is made maliciously or those supporting the complaint know it to be untrue or malicious.
Positive action. The Equality Act 2010 allows positive action if employees or applicants who share a protected characteristic suffer disadvantage connected to that characteristic, or if their participation in an activity is disproportionately low. a For example applications for jobs may be encouraged from specific sections of the community that are under-represented in the workforce as a whole or at particular levels, or a specific training course may be targeted at employees who share a protected characteristic in order to help them to develop skills to the required level to compete for jobs and promotion opportunities. In addition, if candidates for a vacancy, promotion or training course are equally qualified, positive action allows the selection of an individual with a protected characteristic over other candidates. Positive discrimination on the other hand is unlawful i.e. recruiting or promoting people solely on the basis of their protected characteristic.
Harassment is unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual. Employees are also protected from harassment by association and perception (as above) and will be able to complain of behaviour even if it is not directed at them.
Sexual harassment is specifically defined as unwanted conduct (see above) on the grounds of sex. The individual must be able to show that the treatment is related to their sex. The conduct does not necessarily have to be of a sexual nature for this form of harassment to occur.
Third party harassment occurs when a third party (such as a supplier, contractor, client or customer) harasses a BBSRC employee. The Equality Act 2010 makes BBSRC (the employer) potentially liable if this harassment (on the grounds of sex, age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief or sexual orientation) has occurred on at least 2 previous occasions, the BBSRC is aware that it has taken place and has not taken reasonable steps to prevent it from happening again. See also Appendix A3.7.
Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.
This BBSRC dignity at work policy sets out the broad framework for creating a non-discriminatory, fair and supportive working environment for all employees. An intrinsic element of the policy is that employees have the right not to suffer harassment at work for any reason. Further information is set out in the harassment and bullying policy ( Appendix A3.7).
To evaluate BBSRC’s success in ensuring equality of opportunity, we will monitor information associated with the effectiveness of the policy including:
- Staff in post
- Applicants for posts, and those appointed
- Starting salary on appointment
- Employment status (indefinite or fixed term)
- Applicants for training and development for attendees
- Applicants for performance pay awards
- Applicants for promotion
- Grievance and discipline cases
Employees are responsible for:
- Behaving responsibly whilst on BBSRC business by not discriminating, harassing or bullying others on the grounds of the protected characteristics, which cannot be justified
- Being personally responsible for preventing behaviour by themselves that could be construed as discriminatory
- Reporting incidents of discrimination, harassment, and bullying
- Co-operating with measures introduced by BBSRC to promote equality and eliminate discrimination
- Guarding against the use of language and behaviour that could be perceived as, or have the effect of, being discriminatory
Managers are responsible for:
- Ensuring that areas under their control are run in accordance with the principles set out in this policy and promoting a working environment where discrimination, harassment, bullying and victimisation are not tolerated
- Acting on reports of harassment, bullying, abuse, victimisation and pressure to discriminate
- Ensuring complaints are dealt with speedily and consistently in accordance with the grievance policy, invoking disciplinary and capability policies as appropriate
- Leading measures introduced by BBSRC to promote equality and eliminate discrimination
HR is responsible for:
- Advising managers and staff on their rights and responsibilities under the policy
- Helping inform the workforce of the policy
- Ensuring the concepts of equality and diversity are integral to the employment policies of BBSRC
- Providing Diversity Awareness training to all employees as far as is reasonably practicable
- Collecting and monitoring equality and diversity statistics
Summary information on aspects of diversity and equality in BBSRC can be found in the following BBSRC best practice guidance notes:
- Guide to Effective Recruitment and Selection (PDF 497KB)
- Guidance on Employing People with Disabilities (including mental health-illness) (PDF 472KB)
- Carrying out formal investigations (PDF 306KB)
- Guidance on giving and obtaining employment references (PDF 88KB)
- Diversity in the workplace: religion and belief (PDF 84KB)
- Guidance notes for line managers – handling grievance (PDF 204KB)
- Transfer of undertakings (protection of employment) regulations (PDF 77KB)
- Diversity in the workplace: sexual orientation and civil partnership (PDF 70KB)
- Data Protection Act 1998 (PDF 152KB)
- Domestic violence – breaking the chain (PDF 82KB)
- Childcare voucher scheme (PDF 70KB)
- Guidance on maternity and adoption leave and entitlements (PDF 318KB)
- Maternity FAQs for managers (PDF 111KB)
- Diversity and equality considerations in project management (PDF 46KB)
- Age and employment (PDF 44KB)
- Diversity and equality considerations in line management (PDF 60KB)
- Guidance on mentoring for personal development (PDF 57KB)
- Performance and personal development review (PDF 227KB)
- Support for carers of adults (PDF 51KB)
- Composition of institute boards and committees (PDF 150KB)
- Gender reassignment (PDF 55KB)
- Harassment and bullying in the workplace (PDF 95KB)
- Third party harassment - guidance note for BBSRC managers and employees (PDF 74KB)
Last updated by JC 05/11/10
Amendment 108 - November 2011