Organisations 'fail to offer equality of opportunity'

Jan 30 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Many employees and HR professionals in the UK do not feel that their organisations truly offers all staff equality of opportunity, according to new figures.

This gap between policy and implementation emerges from a poll of 203 visitors to the HR Gateway website. Six out of ten (61 per cent) respondents said that their organisations do not offer true equality of opportunity to all staff, with fewer than four out of ten saying that they did.

Roffey Park’s annual Management Agenda’ report also suggests that the relationship between line managers and HR is increasingly more important. According to the report, a third of managers said that their HR practitioners are proactive and that they add value to the business.

According to the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), such figures reflect the gap between policy creation and delivery:

"We know from our helplines that an organisation can have the excellent policies in place but errant line managers or conflicts between colleagues can mean the delivery of the policies does not go to plan.

"Many line managers complain that they do not have the knowledge of legislation and this is where HR can help out. Professionals need to keep their line managers up to speed with developments in employment law," the EOC says.

Claire McCartney co-author of the Roffey Park report, agrees with the EOC. The results may reflect an irony within HR, she believes, that could be resolved by HR taking the lead in communication.

"HR needs to take the lead on updating managers when it comes to issues of equality legislation as managers have a lot on their plate. If they do this then there is less chance of managers failing in terms of offering true equality of opportunity.

"The sense of failure in terms of equality of opportunity in this survey coming from HR professionals could be the result of them not doing enough to help managers deliver equality of opportunity," she said

Petra Cook, head of policy at the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) believes that managers need to play their part in tackling discrimination which she said is "still too prevalent across UK organisations in all areas of employment."

"Its effects are felt in too many vital areas of employment practice such as recruitment, selection, promotion, training and development, redundancy and retirement.

"Over the past few years, more and more organisations have realised that a mixed workforce is a successful one. Employers who still think otherwise are missing out on the substantial and proven business benefits that a good mix of workers can bring,” she said.