Equality and diversity

Version 9 of the Handbook was published on 1 April 2014. For more information, please click "History" above.

Chapter 2: Equality and diversity

This chapter is about encouraging equality of opportunity and respect for diversity, and preventing unlawful discrimination, in your relationship with your clients and others. The requirements apply in relation to age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

Everyone needs to contribute to compliance with these requirements, for example by treating each other, and clients, fairly and with respect, by embedding such values in the workplace and by challenging inappropriate behaviour and processes. Your role in embedding these values will vary depending on your role.

As a matter of general law you must comply with requirements set out in legislation - including the Equality Act 2010 - as well as the conduct duties contained in this chapter.

The outcomes in this chapter show how the Principles apply in the context of equality and diversity.

Outcomes

You must achieve these outcomes:

O(2.1)

you do not discriminate unlawfully, or victimise or harass anyone, in the course of your professional dealings;

O(2.2)

you provide services to clients in a way that respects diversity;

O(2.3)

you make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled clients, employees or managers are not placed at a substantial disadvantage compared to those who are not disabled, and you do not pass on the costs of these adjustments to these disabled clients, employees or managers;

O(2.4)

your approach to recruitment and employment encourages equality of opportunity and respect for diversity;

O(2.5)

complaints of discrimination are dealt with promptly, fairly, openly, and effectively.

Indicative behaviours

Acting in the following way(s) may tend to show that you have achieved these outcomes and therefore complied with the Principles:

IB(2.1)

having a written equality and diversity policy which is appropriate to the size and nature of the firm and includes the following features:

(a)

a commitment to the principles of equality and diversity and legislative requirements;

(b)

a requirement that all employees and managers comply with the outcomes;

(c)

provisions to encompass your recruitment and interview processes;

(d)

details of how the firm will implement, monitor, evaluate and update the policy;

(e)

details of how the firm will ensure equality in relation to the treatment of employees, managers, clients and third parties instructed in connection with client matters;

(f)

details of how complaints and disciplinary issues are to be dealt with;

(g)

details of the firm's arrangements for workforce diversity monitoring; and

(h)

details of how the firm will communicate the policy to employees, managers and clients;

IB(2.2)

providing employees and managers with training and information about complying with equality and diversity requirements;

IB(2.3)

monitoring and responding to issues identified by your policy and reviewing and updating your policy.

Acting in the following way(s) may tend to show that you have not achieved these outcomes and therefore not complied with the Principles:

IB(2.4)

being subject to any decision of a court or tribunal of the UK , that you have committed, or are to be treated as having committed, an unlawful act of discrimination;

IB(2.5)

discriminating unlawfully when accepting or refusing instructions to act for a client.

In-house practice

Outcomes 2.1 and 2.2 apply to all in-house practice.

Instead of outcomes 2.3 to 2.5 you must achieve the following outcome:

IHP(2.1)

if you have management responsibilities you take all reasonable steps to encourage equality of opportunity and respect for diversity in your workplace.

Notes

(i)

The obligations in this chapter closely mirror your legal obligations. You can obtain further information from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, www.equalityhumanrights.com.

(ii)

See also Chapter 1 (Client care) for the handling of client complaints.

(iii)

See also Chapter 7 (Management of your business) for your obligation to have in place appropriate systems and controls for complying with the outcomes in this chapter.