Equal Opportunities & Diversity Policy

At the SDDE Smith Group everyone is welcome, and we want to ensure all colleagues are respected and included. It’s important that you feel safe and confident to be yourself at work and develop your skills, as part of a great team.

To drive our business forward and build an environment of trust, we need to invest in and support our colleagues and create a culture of service and high performance. To meet this aim it’s essential to have a diverse workforce where everyone has the same opportunities for success.  

Our approach and practices in this area are underpinned by our inclusive culture and the Equality Act 2010 (the “Equality Act”).

Who is this policy for?

This policy all prospective and current colleagues, contractors, temporary and agency workers and anyone else working directly for The SDDE Smith Group on a permanent or temporary basis. This policy doesn’t form part of your contract and may be amended or withdrawn at any time.  

What do we mean by equal opportunities?

Equal opportunities is exactly what it says, it means that everyone deserves to be treated equally and have the same opportunities to develop and grow their skills within our business.

We are committed to ensuring that during all aspects of your employment with us including recruitment, training and development, that you are given the same opportunities as everyone else.

Having the same opportunities doesn’t necessarily mean the same treatment and it may be appropriate in some circumstances, to have a different approach with different groups of people. For example, setting up a specific training program for 16–18-year-olds or setting up an Asian Network to help understand issues affecting Asian colleagues in our business.

We won’t unlawfully discriminate on the grounds of race, religion or belief, ethnic or national origin, colour, nationality, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, age, disability, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity or political belief/opinions – these are all “protected characteristics” under the Equality Act.

We also won’t unlawfully place colleagues at a detriment on the grounds of employment status – fixed term or part time, or membership/non membership of a trade union or other such organisations.  

What is our commitment? 

We are committed to maintaining a good harmonious working environment in which no colleague feels under threat or intimidation because of their protected characteristic(s).

To support this commitment we don’t allow flags, emblems or posters to be displayed, materials to be circulated or slogans or songs to be recited which are likely to cause offence or apprehension to particular groups of colleagues. In addition we don’t condone the display of emblems or materials that may be offensive to any of our colleagues.    

What is diversity? 

Diversity is about recognising and accepting the different elements and abilities that make us individual and understanding and respecting that we all have different beliefs and live our lives in different ways.

Having a diverse workforce can bring many benefits to our business and it’s important that we maximise the opportunity that diversity can bring. 

Do we monitor diversity?

We ask our prospective job applicants to complete an equal opportunity monitoring form when they apply online. This information is kept strictly confidential.

What is a protected/equality characteristic?

The Equality Act 2010 applies to the UK only and there is separate legislation covering Northern Island, however the principles are broadly the same.

Under the Equality Act 2010 a number of characteristics are protected by law, these are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage or civil partnership – this doesn’t cover people who are single.
  • Pregnancy or maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

The legislation makes it unlawful to discriminate against people with these characteristics.

The Equality Act doesn’t cover everything, for example they are based on fixed binary identities (male/female) so do not explicitly cover those of non-binary or gender-fluid, it is important that our best practice insures their inclusion.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is where someone is disadvantaged or not treated the same as everyone else because of one or more of the protected characteristics.

There are a number of types of discrimination, these are listed below:

Direct discrimination happens when someone is treated less favourably because of a protected characteristic. For example, you’re not given a job because of your religious views. 

Associative discrimination is discrimination against someone because they associate with another person who possesses a protected characteristic. For example, if a man is not given a promotion because his wife has had a baby and the manager thinks he will not be able to concentrate on a more senior job – then he as suffered discrimination by association.

Indirect discrimination can occur when you have a condition, rule, policy or practice in place which applies to everyone but particular disadvantages people who share a protected characteristic. For example, if we didn’t allow any part time working, there’s a chance that this would indirectly discriminate against women as it’s still generally believed that more women than men are children’s primary carers.

Sometimes indirect discrimination is permissible if the organisation can show that there is a good reason for the discrimination. For example, the rule that colleagues need to be over the age of 18 to sell alcohol is not directly discriminatory on grounds of age because it is based on a legal requirement and the rule is justifiable.   


In addition to the main types of discrimination and harassment outlined in this section, further protection is afforded to those defined as having a disability under the Equality Act. Further information is provided in our Guide to Supporting Disabled colleagues, but the key additional protection is set out below:

a. Discrimination arising from disability is where an individual is treated less favourably because of something arising from their disability, and this treatment can’t be justified as a reasonable act in managing the business. For example, someone is not allowed additional breaks to use the toilet and they have diabetes, this could be discrimination arising from disability. Please be aware that is different to direct disability discrimination.

b. Reasonable Adjustments are positive changes that are required to ensure that our colleagues who have a disability are given equal opportunities where their disability would otherwise place them at a substantial disadvantage. Reasonable adjustments will also be considered for job applicants and our recruitment process is designed to ensure applicants who have a disability aren’t disadvantaged as far as reasonably practical, and the process remains fair.

If we don’t know and could not have reasonably been expected to know of a colleague’s disability, then legally the unfavourable treatment will not be regarded as discrimination. It’s a colleague’s responsibility to let us know if they have a disability, however we must do all we can reasonably be expected to do to find out if a person has a disability.

What is harassment?

Harassment can take many forms, but is generally seen as unwanted physical, verbal, or non-verbal behaviour that’s intended to be or has the effect of being intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive. A one-off incident can be classed as harassment if it’s serious enough. Harassment can occur both inside and outside of the workplace, for example at a work social function e.g. Christmas party.    

Please refer to the Bullying and Harassment policy for more information.

What is third party harassment?

A third party is someone who provides services or goods to us or is a customer. Third party harassment is harassment by a third party. When you report an incident of third party harassment we will take reasonable steps to prevent this from happening again.

What is victimisation?

Victimisation occurs when someone is treated badly because they have made or supported or intend to make or support a complaint about discrimination or harassment, or because they’re suspected of doing this.

A person is not protected from victimisation if they have supported or made a malicious complaint and/or have not acted in good faith. 

What should I do if I feel I am being discriminated against or harassed?

You should report it to your manager, but if the complaint is against your manager you should report it to their manager or the Group People Manager who will advise you on the correct process to follow. If you feel uncomfortable reporting it to your people team you could consider reporting it to another senior manager within your area of the business.

What should I do if I feel someone else is being discriminated against or harassed?

You should talk to the person and try to get them to report it to their manager or the people team.

What will happen if I discriminate or harass someone?

We will not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment. Any reports will be thoroughly investigated, and anyone found to be breaching this policy may be subject to disciplinary action which could lead to their dismissal (either with or without notice).

What are my responsibilities?

Everyone working here is responsible for supporting this policy and promoting a culture of fairness and equal treatment. Were all accountable for making sure that our business and its processes don’t discriminate against any individual or group of colleagues and if you feel that something or someone is discriminating, then you must report it. 

What are my manager’s responsibilities?

It’s your manager’s responsibility to ensure that they and their teams understand and follow the Equal Opportunities and Diversity policy. They must make sure that everyone in their team has the same opportunities during their employment including for training and development, and promotions.

What are the people team’s responsibilities?

It’s the people team’s responsibility to ensure that any complaints are thoroughly investigated, and appropriate action taken, and to ensure that all complaints are dealt with in a confidential and sensitive nature.

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