Why updating your diversity, equity and inclusion policies can improve your ESG credentials

A modern workplace stands out for protecting its employees using respectful policies and processes which reflect the organisation’s position on diversity, equity and inclusion. Our employment law specialist Philippa Wood highlights why revising your organisation’s DEI policies can transform business practices, improve employee happiness and better ESG credentials.

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are the buzzwords of the moment in the workplace.

Being inclusive helps with attracting a wide range of great candidates and keeping them, which in turn increases productivity and enhances business reputation. It is also an important part of meeting an employer’s environmental social and governance (ESG) measures.

Defining equity

References to equality in the work environment are now more often talked about in terms of equity. This is because under Equality Law, only certain characteristics are protected – age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. However, it can be wider, including characteristics such as gender identity, social and demographic background and neurodiversity and, wider still, when we consider what equality is fast becoming – equity. When talking about equity, we mean fairness to all people, whether they hold a protected characteristic or not.

Creating an equitable modern workplace

For example, a man is bullied at work by his male boss but employees in his department are all male. That man cannot use a female as a comparator and so has no claim for sex discrimination and therefore hard to categorise under Equality Law. However, in an equitable modern workplace, bullying is unacceptable, whether you can claim discrimination for a protected characteristic in Employment Tribunal or not. Situations such as this are very much covered by modern workplaces’ Dignity and Respect policies, evidencing the current trend for a balanced and happy workforce.

Measuring social sustainability - the 'S' in ESG

The happy workforce will also help business meet its ESG obligations, specifically with regard to ‘S’ (Social) responsibilities. If a company can measure its social sustainability and impact, it will go a long way to making the business successful and attractive to consumers and clients. Social sustainability is all about getting bad things down in number and good things up. Monitoring workforce in terms of, for example, length of service, numbers of complaints under dignity and respect policies and similar and disciplinary processes will, over time, evidence a happy workforce and an equitable, successful company. Success breeds success and onwards and upwards you go.

Applying the rule of law

To encourage social responsibility, watertight policies are paramount. Employers must be able to show that they take complaints of discrimination and harassment seriously by taking appropriate action even where this could have adverse reputational or financial implications for the business. Essentially, it means applying the rule of law to the workforce. Everyone is equal before ESG, no matter what their level of seniority.
If you are interested in revising your policies to better reflect modern workplace standards and would like some guidance on developing those policies, please contact the team by clicking the button below.

Philippa Wood

Philippa Wood is a solicitor with many years’ experience advising on all areas of contentious and non-contentious employment law. Her clients include individuals and companies of all sizes from entrepreneurs to global brands.

Prospect Law is a multi-disciplinary practice with specialist expertise in the energy and environmental sectors with particular experience in the low carbon energy sector. The firm is made up of lawyers, engineers, surveyors and finance experts.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law Ltd and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law.

This article is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and it should not be relied on in any way.

An ESG audit to better business

The first approach to improving business practices across the environmental, social governance arenas is to engage in an audit of your current business practices and to work with the results to improve your ESG credentials year on year. Click below to learn more about our specific ESG audit service and the mechanisms used to support your organisation and employees towards a more sustainable business and work environment.