Eight emerging themes

Eight emerging themes: Diversity and discrimination


Demographics, migration, globalisation and social trends all are drivers of increased diversity. Employers increasingly recognise that a diverse organisation reflecting the heterogeneity of its community and enabling it to attract and retain the best people makes business sense.

This is especially important now employers increasingly need to look outside their traditional recruitment pools to address skill shortages (see demographics). Some organisations in the US are reportedly now recruiting 14 and 15 year olds to address skills shortages in the fast-food sector.

This increased diversity is apparent in all walks of life in the UK, whether it be across the media, in leading sports teams or among our political leaders. But there is still a way to go. It is just over a century since women first gained the right to vote in the UK (1918) and just over 50 years since gay sex was legalised (1967). Discrimination laws were not enacted until the past half-century or so, with some appearing only during the last 20 years: sex discrimination (1975); race discrimination (1976); disability discrimination (1995); sexual orientation discrimination (2003); religion and belief discrimination (2003); and age discrimination (2006). The law continues to play a role in combating discrimination. Momentum is currently building, for example, to extend protection to those going through menopause. The law also has to grapple with issues of conflicting rights, such as between religious freedoms and sex or sexual orientation discrimination, and between gender-critical feminists and trans-activists.

The issue of homeworking creates risks of discrimination on grounds of sex, age and disability for employers who fail to take the necessary steps to avoid this (see Covid-19 – agile working; and emerging themes – flexibility).