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May

See Potential? Equality and Diversity | A Praxis42 Practical4U.

Posted by Tom Paxman

Have you heard of ‘See Potential’?  It’s a 2017 UK Government initiated equality and diversity campaign to encourage employers across all sectors to consider the advantages of recruiting talent from disadvantaged sectors.  The campaign is designed to address the stigma attached to people who find themselves on a spectrum ranging from recovering addicts, homeless and ex-offenders, through to the long-term-unemployed, military veterans and single parents.

This initiative serves to showcase examples of major employers who have taken the extra step to encourage people from these groups to apply for and secure positions with them.  These real-life stories provide a lens through which the personal, commercial and societal benefits of a highly inclusive recruitment and induction policy can be viewed.

Here is one of the excellent films they have made to bring the campaign to life.

The campaign, which is backed by over 100 employers including Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Virgin, Hyundai, EY and Costa, has Sir Richard Branson, Deborah Meaden and Simon Cowell as its Ambassadors.  In addition, See Potential is endorsed by the Confederation of British Industry, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Institute of Directors along with a number of charities, including The Prince’s Trust, and The Big Issue. These organisations support moves to leverage this valuable pool of energy and skills and to help them to make a valuable contribution to society.

Whilst evidence indicates that the attitudes of UK employers toward the nine protected characteristics provided for by the Equality Act 2010 are improving (being age, disability, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation – as covered by Praxis42’s eLearning Courses (Equality and Diversity for Employees and Equality and Diversity for Managers), there remains some hard-to-reach factions as provided for in the See Potential campaign.  The HR Function leads the way with this initiative, but, as with all strategic initiatives, Health and Safety has an essential role to play.

As well as using Training and eLearning to help acclimatise new recruits and to ensure that they have all the information that they need to comply with all UK laws and guidelines, in some cases, employers need to give due consideration to their Duty of Care to all employees – and other stakeholders and members of the public with whom the new recruits may come into contact. Plus, as part of our support for this initiative, we recommend that employers carefully consider all potential risks involved when employing individuals whose previous behaviours would present a risk to themselves or others if repeated.  This requires particularly sensitive deliberations when considering employing an ex-offender.

Starting with the worst-case-scenario, where relevant, employers should first ensure that the person in question is not barred from any ‘regulated activity’ involving either children or adults, or both.  In all other cases, the recruitment decisions are at the discretion of the employer.  But remember, the onus is on the employer to request and check all the information they need to know.

Having gathered and cross checked the evidence to validate the information provided with appropriate sympathy and empathy, prospective employers should consider conducting a risk assessment.  This should serve to ensure that you identify any risks that may occur around the prospective employee, and assess whether reasonable and suitable safeguards can be put into place to minimise the risks identified.  This process, and the rationale for the decisions should be recorded and securely retained.

Employers then need to consider the outcome of the risk assessment in the context of their decision-making process – and whoever is responsible for Health and Safety should either make the final decision, or create a Safe Recruitment Policy and/or process in which safe decisions can be made on a corporate basis.

It is worth reflecting that, as well as transcending all aspects of business, in the eyes of the law, Health and Safety subordinates everything else. That’s EVERYTHING else.  Brands, profits, assets, balance sheets, contracts, equity, recruitment whatever…  Whether you are the chairman or the cleaner, the law prioritises your Health and Safety, and that of any member of the public with whom you come into contact whilst conducting business, above all else.

In conclusion, we fully support our clients in being inspired by the See Potential campaign, but remind them of the need to ensure that they identify and manage any Health and Safety related risks that may become associated with this worthy cause.

 

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