Employing people

We employ significant numbers of people – and it makes sense to harness a diverse talent pool. This section explores how to create a workplace culture that is characterised by equality and human rights values.

This can have a big impact on how your organisation operates. It helps you to attract the best possible range of job candidates, and boosts job satisfaction and loyalty among staff. It assists the quality of decision making, creativity and productivity. And helps your organisation reflect the population you seek to serve.

Make sure your recruitment processes can bring in people from a wide range of backgrounds – particularly your priority group(s).

Good equality and human rights practice forms the basis of good people management across the whole employment cycle and is key to retaining good people. This includes induction, annual reviews, access to development opportunities, pipeline and promotion, reward, managing moments that matter, grievance and disciplinary processes, exit and staff turnover.


One: When recruiting, think about what’s actually needed to do a job well.

The activities below are mainly focused on recruitment, but the principles can be adapted for other parts of the employment cycle.

  • Recruit for values as well as skills, knowledge and experience. In big organisations this could mean assessing candidates against a values-based competency framework for all hires. In smaller organisations it’s about saying in the person specification that candidates should be able to work within your organisation’s values (including on equality and human rights) and getting them to show how they would do that.
  • Assess person specifications, application forms, and interview scoring criteria. Don’t put in extra, unnecessary criteria that put people off applying. Instead, make sure the criteria welcome as wide a set of people as possible. Issues like caring responsibilities, breaks in employment and non-traditional qualifications do not have to be barriers.
  • Word job advertisements to reflect your commitment to equality and human rights. Place them where a diversity of people, and in particular, members of priority groups, will see them. Make clear you are committed to making reasonable adjustments for disabled people to the recruitment process.
  • Consider positive action. Are there under-represented groups in your organisation, in leadership roles or departments? What steps could you take to encourage job applications from these groups – and their effective participation in job interviews? How could jobs be designed to enable more equal representation? Positive action is allowed under equality legislation, but it’s important that the steps you take fit within these legal provisions.

Two: Take a look at your internal policies and the effect they can have on recruitment and retention.

  • Enact flexible working for all. This is one of the best ways to open up opportunities and help staff balance work and personal life.
  • Help people working on recruitment and people management to develop equality and human rights knowledge and skills. Unconscious bias training is important. Without this, biases will be built into processes that could cause discrimination.
  • Use equality and human rights monitoring to review your approach to recruitment (and across the employment cycle). Do you have a diverse range of candidates – and are they hired?

Case Study: the Kusaidia Community Project and recruitment


Your organisation can harness the best talent from the widest pool.

  • Your organisation employs a diverse range of people across all levels
  • Relevant staff members have equality and human rights expertise to apply in their work in recruitment, retention and promotion
  • Job applicants report that your recruitment process is accessible and fair
  • Different groups experience similar or equal outcomes at key stages of the employment cycle.

Many issues in the workplace arise through the way that people treat or relate to each other. It’s important that leaders set out and model expected behaviours – and take action to promote your organisation’s commitment to people’s rights to safety, dignity and respect at work.

A Dignity at Work policy outlines your approach to bullying, harassment and other inappropriate behaviour in the workplace. It can help you fulfil your legal responsibility under equality legislation to prevent and deal with harassment.

It’s important to address all types of inappropriate behaviour that undermine dignity at work – and not just those covered by equality law. 


One: Create a Dignity at Work policy, involving your staff.

  • Develop a template policy as basis to consult staff on the full policy. This  helps  build discussion on the issue, and ownership of the final policy
  • Complete and agree the policy. This should include a statement that your organisation values dignity and has no place for bullying, sexual harassment, harassment or other forms of inappropriate behaviour. It should set out the steps you will take to prevent such behaviour, and steps that will be taken if such behaviour is reported.

Two: Embed the policy within your workplace.

  • Support and develop your staff to promote dignity at work, to be committed to the policy, and to deal with issues if they occur
  • Regularly communicate the policy to all workplace stakeholders
  • Consider setting up and training a network of Dignity at Work contacts. 

Staff members feel respected and work in a workplace culture with mutual-respect. 

  • Staff members know of and understand the Dignity at Work policy
  • Staff members with management roles are confident in communicating, enacting and enforcing the Dignity at Work policy.

Leaders and managers are central to putting equality and human rights values at the core of your organisation and making these values real.


One:  Support staff at all levels to respect the rights of others and make use of their own rights.

  • Advance the needs of your staff as rights. Communicate that respecting rights is an organisational norm – and not dependent on the personal views of line managers, other staff or volunteers.
  • Train staff in what their and others´rights are and why they matter. You can buy this training in or use the materials in the Framework to facilitate discussions.
  • Establish a system for staff to identify issues they have with their workplace, to hold your organisation to account in relation to these rights, and to propose constructive solutions to address any issues. This could be through regular 1-1 meetings, a suggestions scheme, annual staff survey, etc.

Two: Skill up leaders and managers on key areas.

What leaders and managers do and how they do it is crucial in creating an inclusive, rights-respecting, and high-performing culture. Help managers have a positive approach and use emotional intelligence.  Focusing on developing managers´ skills in the areas below will cover the most common issues, as well as giving them transferable skills they can use in other contexts :

  • making reasonable adjustments for disabled staff and staff with mental health problems
  • supporting flexible working for all staff
  • managing unconscious bias, and acting fairly and transparently in performance management and decisions about recruitment, promotion and redundancy
  • challenging inappropriate ‘jokes’, comments or behaviour, and escalating where needed
  • managing pregnancy, maternity and paternity leave, disability-related absence, and returning to work
  • respecting confidentiality, for example, of LGBT staff or staff with mental health problems

Staff are empowered participants in your organisation. 

  • Managers understand and accept a rights-based approach to your staff members
  • Staff members know their rights and can confidently assert them
  • Staff members use the systems of accountability in your organisation.
Further Reading

Equality and Human Rights Commission, Guidance for Employers

ACAS, Equality and Discrimination

Unite the Union, Dignity at Work Action Pack (pdf)

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