Promoting Equality in the Workplace: Understanding Employment Equity

by | Oct 18, 2023 | Business Owners

What comes to mind when you hear Employment Equity? Do you immediately jump to race? Maybe gender or age? And do you think that Employment Equity is only applicable for larger businesses?

Workplaces no matter the size, shouldn’t just be diverse; they must also be more inclusive. All employees should feel valued and empowered. This is equality. Everyone feels supported, respected, and on equal standing within their department.

Equity levels the playing field, which means addressing discrepancies and ensuring all employees have what they need to succeed. Employees have different needs. If a company treats everyone the same without realizing that certain teams or demographics need specific support or resources, there will be inequality. Equity requires Smart Business Owners to be adaptable and willing to work with their employees to ensure everyone’s success. Equity is the pathway to true equality.

What is the Employment Equity Act?

The Employment Equity Act is the law that promotes equity in the workplace, ensures that all employees receive equal opportunities and that employees are treated fairly by their employers.

The law states that the Employer can’t discriminate against you directly or indirectly through employment policy or practice on the grounds of:

Race, Gender, Pregnancy, Marital Status, Family Responsibility, Ethnic or Social Origin,

Colour, Age, Disability, Religion, Sexual Orientation, HIV Status,

Belief, Culture, Birth, Language, Conscience Belief, Political Opinion

Examples in the workplace:

The recruiting/hiring process Everyone should be trained on the structural and implicit biases that disenfranchise certain groups. As an example, resumes with “white-sounding” names on them (“Tom,” “Jennifer”) get more attention than similar resumes with foreign or Black-sounding names. It’s vital for hiring teams to recognize these trends, examine their own biases, and actively fight against discrimination.

Salary – Equal pay and equitable pay are often confused, but they have some key differences. When a company examines whether salaries are equal, investigators look for discrepancies within the same (or very similar) jobs. As an example, are a man and woman both working as office administrators paid differently? Pay equality’s goal is equal pay for equal work. Everyone who does the same job should get the same salary.

Accommodations – People with disabilities, mental health conditions, or language barriers often need accommodations. Equity refers to the specific things each person needs to succeed. As an example, a person might ask to work from home a few days a week because of a medical condition. Providing the option to work remotely allows them to fulfil their full potential at their job. 

HIV Status – Somebody who is HIV positive cannot be refused a job, or training opportunities, just because he/she is HIV positive.

Employees now a days are well aware that the Labour Law protects them against any discrimination at work. Therefore, you should know what classifies as discrimination. By implementing policies to protect each employee as well as your business against any discrimination will avoid unwanted CCMA cases or penalties.

EE Online Service for 2023 Reporting Is Now Open!