Aspects of diversity

Gender

Gender equality is a basic human right. It has also been identified as an essential for socio-economic development and is therefore included in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

UN Sustainable Development Goal #5: "Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”.

It is recognised that there are challenges and improvements to be made to encourage greater gender diversity within the science and engineering professions. This includes national, government initiatives in some countries.

IChemE is committed to encouraging more women to enter and pursue careers in chemical engineering.

IChemE activity

Other organisations

Age

It is widely recognised that there are benefits to having an age-diverse workforce. Employers are increasingly conscious of the importance of this and have a positive attitude to age diversity in recruitment, training and retention of workers of all ages.

With improved quality of life, the age demographics of workplaces are becoming more diverse. This has led to the identification of bias and discrimination and strategies to overcome this.

LGBT+

In September 2014, the United Nation’s Human Rights Council approved a resolution that condemns discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. There remains opposition to this from some countries.

Many employers now have positive initiatives to prevent discrimination and provide support for LGBT+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) employees. In 2014, the former Chairman of BP, Lord Browne published a book called the Glass Closet: Why Coming Out is Good Business. This book addresses the issue of homophobia in business and the benefits of inclusion in the workplace.

Organisations

Race, ethnicity, religion and beliefs

Discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion and beliefs affects millions of people around the world. The workplace is an important place to tackle this issue because the cultural diversity of different groups can bring significant business benefits.

Effective workplace policies and strategies that support and promote a diverse workforce will address ethical and legal requirements and lead to a more productive environment.

Organisations

Disability

There are many definitions of disability and there are many examples of workplaces where the positive focus on ability provides inclusion for those that may be otherwise considered ‘disabled’.

Modern technology and workplace environments have removed many barriers faced by people with a disability. Now the biggest barrier to a culture that is inclusive of disability is stereotypical assumptions and attitudes.

In Australia, one in five people has some form of disability, and as people live longer this will increase. Disability can occur at any stage, but increases with age. This can have a significant impact on the workplace.

Organisations

Family and relationships

A diverse and inclusive workplace is one that supports and embraces a positive work-life balance. Often a key factor in this is supporting an employee's right to a family life. There are many countries with legislation to prevent discrimination against women who are pregnant or on maternity leave.

Increasingly there is awareness and support for employees that look for a flexible work environment to accommodate family life. This can include caring for children, elderly or sick relatives. Initiatives also exist to support people returning to work after a career break.

In the UK, flexible working is defined as “a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, eg having flexible start and finish times, or working from home”.