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The Equality Authority - (An tÚdarás Comhionannais) - Ireland- Press Releases

New Report Highlights Business Case for Equality and Diversity

Press Release - 02 July 2007

A new report launched today finds that investment by organisations in initiatives that promote workplace equality and foster diversity has substantial benefits for both employees and employers.

The report - entitled The Business Impact of Equality and Diversity - The International Evidence - was commissioned jointly by the Equality Authority and the National Centre for Partnership and Performance. It was compiled by Professor Kathy Monks of the Learning, Innovation and Knowledge Research Centre at Dublin City University Business School.

The report reviews a wide range of research evidence on the relationship between equality and diversity on one hand, and organisational performance on the other. The report concludes that:

  • There is a positive relationship between the existence of equality policies and employee outcomes including, commitment, job satisfaction, life satisfaction, work-life balance and reduced stress;
  • There are positive employee-performance outcomes arising from the implementation of equality and diversity initiatives, such as reductions in absenteeism and staff turnover, improved employee relations and workplace innovation and creativity, and
  • Organisations perceive performance outcomes from investment in equality and diversity initiatives in four inter-related areas:
  • Human capital benefits, such as the ability to resolve labour shortages and recruit and retain high-calibre staff;
  • Increased market opportunities, with access to more diverse markets;
  • Enhancement of organisational reputation to suppliers, customers and prospective and existing employees, and
  • Changes to organisational culture, such as improved working relations and reductions in litigation.

Speaking at today's launch, Lucy Fallon-Byrne, Director, National Centre for Partnership and Performance, commented: "Equality and diversity are key priorities of both the National Workplace Strategy and Towards 2016. Transforming Irish workplaces into Workplaces of the Future is all about fostering greater levels of innovation and creativity, and this report suggests very strongly that positive equality and diversity policies are a major contributor to higher levels of workplace innovation."

Niall Crowley, CEO of the Equality Authority, said: "It is clear from this report that diversity in the workforce across all the grounds covered by our equality legislation holds significant potential for business success. A planned and systematic approach to equality and diversity in the workplace is required if this potential is to be realised. Such an approach must focus on eliminating any form of discrimination, on making adjustments to take account of the practical implication of diversity and on proactively seeking to achieve full equality in practice for the diversity of employees in the workplace."

The Equality Authority was established by statute in 1999 to promote equality of opportunity and to combat discrimination in the areas covered by the Employment Equality Acts and the Equal Status Acts. Visit www.equality.ie for further information. The National Centre for Partnership and Performance (NCPP) was established by Government in 2001 to promote partnership-led innovation and change in Irish workplaces. It was placed on a statutory footing in January 2007 as part of the new National Economic and Social Development Offices (NESDO). Visit www.ncpp.ie for further information.

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Disability Issues Predominant in Equality Authority Casefiles - Equality Authority Press Release - 19 Jun 2007

The Equality Authority today launched its Annual Report 2006. During 2006 the Equality Authority had 853 casefiles under the Employment Equality Acts (404), the Equal Status Acts (366), and the Intoxicating Liquor Act (83). It dealt with 10,585 queries under five different Acts - Employment Equality Acts (2933), Equal Status Acts (1560), Maternity Protection Acts (3716), Parental Leave Act (2195) and Adoptive Leave Act (181).

Speaking at the launch Niall Crowley, CEO of the Equality Authority highlighted that "Allegations of discrimination on the disability ground make up the largest group of Equality Authority casefiles under the Employment Equality Acts, the Equal Status Acts and the Intoxicating Liquor Act - accounting for 23% (197/853) of all our casefiles. This reflects the significant barriers faced by people with disabilities in seeking to participate in Irish society. The casefiles relate predominantly to failure by employers and service providers to make necessary adjustments for people with disabilities. The core issues raised in the casefiles are allegations of discrimination in working conditions, dismissal and access to employment and allegation of discrimination in access to education and to public sector services".

The patterns evident in the casefiles of the Equality Authority include:-

  • The race ground continues to be the highest area in the Equality Authority casefiles under the Employment Equality Acts (103 casefiles) reflecting ongoing difficult experiences for migrant workers.
  • The Traveller ground is the second highest area in the Equality Authority casefiles under the Equal Status Acts (88 casefiles) after the disability ground reflecting a widespread discrimination experienced by the Traveller community.
  • The gender ground is the second highest area in the Equality Authority casefiles under the Employment Equality Acts (83 casefiles) reflecting a persistence to gender inequality in the workplace despite thirty years of gender equality legislation.
  • Allegations of discrimination by Government departments, Local Authorities and State Agencies predominate, accounting for 40% of Equality Authority casefiles under the Equal Status Acts and for 23% of those under the Employment Equality Acts.
  • Access to education (57 casefiles), access to accommodation (41 casefiles), access to insurance (17 casefiles) and access to banking and financial services (15 casefiles) are the main issues raised under the Equal Status Acts after public sector services.
  • Working conditions (127 casefiles) access to employment (86 casefiles) dismissal (62 casefiles) and harassment and sexual harassment (31 casefiles) are the main workplace issues raised under the Employment Equality Acts.
  • Casefiles under the Intoxicating Liquor Act (83 casefiles) have risen by 336% since 2005.

Niall Crowley stated that "a major cause of concern continues to be delays in the Equality Tribunal. Delays of three years are not uncommon. This means that remedies are not effective, simple and swift and mechanisms for enforcement are limiting the capacity to create a culture of compliance with the equality legislation".

The Equality Authority reported on significant casework successes during the past year. These included:

  • A landmark decision of the Equality Tribunal that the Department of Education and Science had discriminated against two leaving certificate students with dyslexia by annotating their leaving certificates - a case which is now under appeal.
  • The Government decision, in settlement of a claim under the Equal Status Acts on the sexual orientation ground to pay adult dependent allowance in respect of the same sex partners of a terminally ill gay man.
  • The first case of indirect discrimination on the religion ground where the Equality Tribunal found that Western Union had indirectly discriminated against a Muslim man when they refused to release money sent through their services.
  • The first District Court finding of discrimination on the sexual orientation ground under the Intoxicating Liquor Act.

Niall Crowley stated that "the Equality Authority has sought to further respond to the patterns of discrimination in our casefiles through initiatives to embed a focus on equality within organisational policies, procedures and practices and to promote a focus on equality as part of our cultural value base".

Significant initiatives taken to embed equality within organisations included:

  • Supporting 133 companies to put in place equality policies and equality and diversity training for staff
  • Supporting 7 companies to conduct large scale employment equality reviews and action plans.

Significant initiatives taken to promote a focus on equality as part of a societal value base included:

  • Three public awareness campaigns, one on worklife balance, another on the issue of ageism and another on anti- racist workplaces.
  • A school based awareness campaign to combat homophobic bullying.

Niall Crowley, speaking at the launch of the Annual Report said that "resources and access to adequate resources are a key issue in further developing and implementing the full range of powers available to the Equality Authority. In this regard we look forward to the implementation of the commitments in the Towards 2016 National Agreement to review expenditure on the equality infrastructure provided by the equality legislation".

Another problem raised by the Equality Authority in the Annual Report was the ongoing failure to transpose the full range of powers and functions of the Equality Authority under the Intoxicating Liquor Act - in particular to enable the Equality Authority to provide information on the anti-discrimination provisions of the Act and to prepare codes of practice with regard to access to licensed premises.

The Equality Authority was established by statute in 1999 to promote equality of opportunity and to combat discrimination in the areas covered by the Employment Equality Acts and the Equal Status Acts. Visit www.equality.ie for further information.

Please note, all details on any of Press Releases displayed on this site are provided by Companies, organisations, Government departments and media and jml Training and Consultancy does not take any responsibilty for their content or accuracy

See also: Taoiseach Opens EU Equality Year for Ireland - Equality Authority Press Release - 05 Feb 2007

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