equality + Inclusivity = a mentally healthy workforce

Equality. It’s a topic we see in the news most days, but is it something that’s on the daily agenda in your organisation?

Our world becomes more culturally diverse each week, and as such, so do workplaces. Therefore, as managers it’s essential that you know exactly how to maintain a supportive, harmonious workforce in which everyone is treated fairly.

The Equality Act 2010

Let’s start by looking at The Equality Act 2010. This set of laws were implemented by the UK government to protect the rights of individuals in society, regardless of their age, race, gender, status, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.

While it’s all good and well stating on your website and comms that your organisation abides by the Equality Act 2010, employers must know exactly how it works in practice, and importantly where employee mental health comes into it.

Mental illness equals disability

Did you know that if your people have a particular mental health condition, they could be classed as disabled?

Mental illnesses that effect an individual’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities (both in the workplace and at home), such as depression, schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorder are considered a disability. And this list isn’t exhaustive, there are many other conditions that fall under the remit.

The key thing for employers is to ensure that their staff are by no means treated unfairly by anyone in the organisation because of their mental health.

Disability should not equal discrimination

Discriminating an employee because they have a mental health problem not only goes against The Equality Act, but it can also make matters worse for the individual and add to their condition.

Businesses must be completely clued up on the different types of discrimination and the situations where they can be held liable. To help you understand, here’s a couple of mental health in the workplace related examples…

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Having a thorough understanding on what counts as discrimination can help employers and staff become more aware of their behaviour and when it may be deemed unacceptable.

Inclusivity equals a healthier, happier workforce

Becoming a mental health inclusive workplace doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and dedication to build. Here’s the key steps that we recommend taking today.

· Training all-round

You know what they say – “you don’t know what you don’t know” – that’s why it’s an employer’s duty to provide training to the entire workforce and ensure everyone has the same level of understanding and commitment to the Equality Act 2010.

*The Key Wellbeing Hub has an expert-led Equality and Diversity Training course – all you need is an open-mind and 34 minutes (to be precise!)

· Make reasonable adjustments

Encourage your people to talk to you about their mental health, to allow you to make reasonable adjustments to the way they work if needed. These may include flexible working, time off for treatment or a change in their job role to make things easier.

*We get that it’s not always easy getting employees to open up about their wellbeing, our blog has some tips on breaking the silence.

· Fair access to opportunities

Make sure that all stages of employment are the same for those with and without a mental illness. For example, the recruitment process, level of training offered, promotion opportunities, event invites and more. Each individual employee should have access to the same opportunities.

*Make sure that unconscious bias doesn’t take over – something else you can learn about in the Hub.

Here at Key Wellbeing, we can help you to create a cultural change within your organisation to ensure your workplace is fair and inclusive for all. Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!