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Equality and diversity

Living in an increasingly diverse and tolerant society means that we all have a responsibility, both as individuals and organisations, to have a commitment to equality, and valuing diversity.

Equality is about creating a fairer society in which everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

Valuing diversity is the recognition and valuing of difference between people to create a working culture that respects, values and harnesses difference for the benefit of the organisation and individuals.

Equal opportunities is not about treating everyone the same but instead providing a level playing field with equal access to opportunities for all.

Discrimination is treating someone less favourably based on a protected characteristic as defined in the Equality Act. The Equality Act covers 9 protected characteristics:

  1. Age
  2. Gender re-assignment
  3. Race or ethnicity
  4. Disability
  5. Marriage and civil partnership
  6. Sexual orientation
  7. Gender
  8. Pregnancy and maternity
  9. Religion or belief


Discrimination can be in the form of humiliating or disrespecting people, taking them less seriously, making assumptions about them, stereotyping, or being patronising towards them. We need to understand the impact discrimination may have on an individual and take measures to prevent and deal with it when the need arises. 

Key legislation regarding Equality and Diversity is covered by the Equality Act (2010).

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) provides guidance and advice on rights and responsibilities, equality law     and human rights legislation.

All organisations involved in medical education and training should ensure adherence to Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) in order to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between different people when carrying out their activities.

The NHS Employers website offers practical support, advice and guidance for NHS organisations on equality and diversity.

The General Medical Council and British Medical Association websites also provide a range of information on equality, diversity and human rights.

Health Education England is committed to supporting diversity and equality within the workplace through initiatives such as the AHEAD Group.

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