The importance of defining key terms and behaviours
Talking about having clear definitions for commonly used terms and behaviours, especially in the Equality and Diversity space may feel obvious. However the basics are often overlooked, and It is something we have encountered many times.
It’s really critical to have clear definitions of what bullying, harassment, or even belonging is. Without defining these behaviours clearly within your organisation, it’s left to the interpretation of individuals which in turn leaves a lot of ‘grey area’ and a lack of understanding, impacting on psychological safety of employees and contributing one of the biggest known reporting barriers – fear of not being believed.
Belonging is the sense of security and support when there is a sense of acceptance, inclusion and identity for a member of a certain group. Belonging means something different for everyone. In the workplace It can be characterised as “the feeling when an individual can bring their authentic selves to work”. When employees don’t feel like they belong at work, they performance and personal lives often suffer because of it.
Belongingness Is the human emotional need to be an accepted member of a group, whether it is family, friends, coworkers of religion or something else? Many people tend to have an inherent desire to belong and feel like they are an important part of something greater than themselves.
Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour involving the misuse of power that can make a person feel vulnerable, upset, humiliated, undermined or threatened. Power does not always mean being in a position of authority, but can include both personal strength and the power to coerce through fear or intimidation.
Bullying can take the form of physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct. Non-verbal conduct includes postings on social media outlets. Examples of bullying include:
- Shouting at, being sarcastic towards, ridiculing or demeaning others
- Physical or psychological threats
- Overbearing and intimidating levels of supervision
- Inappropriate and/or derogatory remarks about someone’s performance
- Abuse of authority or power by those in positions of seniority
- Deliberately excluding someone from meetings or communications without good reason
Diversity means having a range of people with various racial, ethnic, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds and a variety of lifestyles, experiences and interests. Having a variety of individuals and points of view represented in one department. Diversity is a group of people who are different in the same place.
Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) are often used in tandem. This is necessary as one cannot truly achieved without the other. They’re two different concepts.
Diversity is having a mix of different people but Inclusion is having that mix work together, and work well. For example; diversity is giving someone a seat at the table, where as inclusion is actually listening and valuing them. Achieving one does not automatically mean you have achieved the other.
Equality means the right of different groups of people to have a similar social position and receive the same treatment.
Equality recognises that historically certain groups of people with protected characteristics such as race, disability, sex and sexual orientation have experienced discrimination.
Equality versus Equity
The term “equity” refers to fairness and justice and is distinguished from equality: Whereas equality means providing the same to all, equity means recognising that we do not all start from the same place and must acknowledge and make adjustments to imbalances.
Harassment is unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Harassment may occur physically, verbally or non-verbally and it can be intentional or unintentional. It also includes treating someone less favourably because they have submitted or refused to submit to such behaviour in the past.
Protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 include: age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. We believe harassment is unacceptable even if it does not fall within any of these categories.
Harassment may include, for example:
- Unwanted physical conduct or ‘horseplay’, including touching, pinching, pushing, grabbing, brushing past someone, invading their personal space and more serious forms of physical or sexual assault
- offensive or intimidating comments or gestures, or insensitive jokes or pranks
- Mocking, mimicking or belittling a person’s disability
- Racist, sexist, homophobic or ageist jokes, or derogatory or stereotypical remarks about a particular ethnic or religious group or gender
- Outing or threatening to out someone as gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans
- Ignoring or shunning someone, for example, by deliberately excluding them from a conversation or a social activity.
A person may be harassed even if they were not the intended “target”. For example, a person may be harassed by racist jokes about a different ethnic group if they create an offensive environment.
‘Hate incidents’ and ‘hate crimes’ are terms used to describe acts of violence or hostility directed at people because of who they are or who someone thinks they are. They are motivated by hostility or prejudice based on disability, race, religion, transgender identity, or sexual orientation. This can be an incident against a person or against property and includes materials posted online.
A national anti-hate crime campaign, #BetterThanThat, has been backed by the government and has been launched in response to the rise in incidents after the EU referendum. The campaign is open to all organisations willing to support the fight against hate crime.
The police and the Crown Prosecution Service take all hate crime very seriously. All police forces would want you to report hate crimes and they take all reports of hate crime very seriously. Greater Manchester Police now recognises alternative sub-culture hate incidents. These are incidents based on someone’s appearance and include Goths, Emos, Punks and other similar groups. This means they will also record any such incidents as a hate incident.
Some examples of hate incidents include:
- Verbal abuse like name-calling and offensive jokes
- Bullying or intimidation by children, adults, neighbours or strangers
- Physical attacks such as hitting, punching, pushing, spitting
- Threats of violence
- Hoax calls, abusive phone or text messages, hate mail
- Online abuse, for example on Facebook or Twitter
- Displaying or circulating discriminatory literature or posters
- Harm or damage to things such as your home, pet, or vehicle
- Throwing rubbish into a garden
- Malicious complaints, for example over parking, smells or noise
Inclusion is to embrace all people irrespective of race, gender, disability, medical or other need. It is about giving equal access and opportunities and getting rid of discrimination and intolerance (removal of barriers).
An inclusive setting works towards providing effective planning and different activities (differentiation) in order to meet individual needs.