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Equality and diversity is a term used in the UK to define and champion equality, diversity and human rights as defining values of our society.

It promotes equality of opportunity for all, giving every individual the chance to achieve their potential, free from prejudice and discrimination.  If there was no law protecting peoples rights, there is a possibility of violation of human rights and discrimination.

Firstly we need to understand what prejudice and discrimination are.

Prejudice is a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or experience. Sometimes people are prejudiced about others simply because they do not understand peoples lifestyles, cultures or preferences.  The effect of this is that it makes people jump to conclusions about other people and this could lead to them not being given the opportunity to fulfill their potential for example not being offered a job.

Discrimination, on the other hand, means treating people less favourable because they have a feature or characteristic over which they have no control.  It is the act of recognising, seeing and distinguishing differences in others and choosing to show prejudice and bias against them.

Types of discrimination include;

  • Direct discrimination
  • Indirect discrimination
  • Institutional discrimination

Direct discrimination is the most obvious and this includes both physical and mental abuse, harassment, the denial of needs and opportunities together with demeaning and or degrading behaviour.   Indirect discrimination occurs when a specific requirement or condition is unfair or unjust. This kind of discrimination can be hidden and often difficult to prove.  In most instances, it is unintentional and therefore can be difficult to deal with or detect.

Institutional Discrimination takes place when organisations have polices and or procedures that have a discriminatory effect on someone.

Discrimination can have mental and health issues leading to depression, anger, loss of self- esteem, and isolation. It can have even further long-term effects which can be as serious as mental illness.

Equality and inclusion are very important issues, everyone has a key role in promoting equality and inclusion in their own environment. It can be difficult to understand the difference between equality and diversity, they are not the same but they need to be thought about together.