Equality: A New Framework
The need for a legislative framework for ensuring equality of opportunity is not seriously questioned in the UK. However, despite the presence on the Statute book of various significant pieces legislation dating back to the mid- 1970s, there remain deep-seated structural disadvantages which blight the lives of many women, Black and Asian people, and disabled persons. Barriers can also be found in public services, including the presence of institutionalized racism in the police, and in private sector organizations. There are also insistent demands for the extension of legislation to cover discrimination on other grounds such as religion, age and sexual orientation. Discriminatory behavior cannot be remedied by legislation alone, or simply by the actions of government, courts and tribunals and Commissions. Political and social leadership, customer and peer pressure, the development of good practices and campaigning all have a crucial part to play. Employers, trade unions, social organizations and clubs, service providers and individuals all have to take voluntary action to achieve the goals of the legislation. The present acts are outdated, piecemeal and inconsistent, and fall short of the standards set by EU law, international human rights law, and the Human Rights Act. In writing this report, the authors set out to develop an accessible and cost-effective legislative framework for ensuring equality of opportunity, and to propose other measures which will promote equal opportunity policies and spur compliance with those policies. In the course of preparing the report they have considered experience in other countries. They conducted a survey of employers in Britain, Northern Ireland and the USA, which shows that human resource managers are looking for a new more inclusive approach not only to prevent discrimination but also to provide positively for the fair participation of all groups. These views, together with those of an advisory group drawn from government, the Commissions, and tribunals, as well as a panel of academic and practicing lawyers, form the backdrop to the recommendations contained in this report. It will be essential reading for all those interested in human rights, discrimination and employment law, and human resources management.
Publication Date: 8/4/2000