We are of the view that the tide is finally beginning to turn on discrimination in the workplace and more companies are taking positive steps to eradicate it from the outset.
We wrote here about the steps that employers can take, as a starting point (Although of course, there is always more that can be done).
Now, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed that it will be taking steps to tackle the 'unacceptable' levels of discrimination within the Armed Forces. This has come after General Sir Nick Carter, the chief of the defence staff, recently stated that the 'laddish behaviour' in the Armed Forces was driving out talented people from joining for fear of being discriminated against or bullied by their peers or even their chain of command. This is demonstrated by the figures from last year that state that 23% of complaints about discrimination were made by women, despite them making up only 12% of the regular Armed Forces.
The changes include training for personnel to give them the tools and confidence to challenge any inappropriate behaviour – because it is not enough to just be against discrimination, it is important to actively challenge it too. There will also be a 24 hour helpline of trained counsellors set up to support members of the armed forces, giving the personnel a recourse outside of their usual chain of command.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has described the diversity within the Armed forces as 'woeful' and is very much supportive of these changes, confirming that he is "determined to stamp [the bullying and harassment] out". Following that, the MoD has also confirmed that it will continue to review its stance and policies on anti-bullying.
Unfortunately, the Armed Forces are not immune to discrimination, as with any private employer.
But it is certainly positive that steps are being taken to stamp this out and we encourage any Armed Forces personnel, or any other worker, to speak out against discrimination in the workplace – whether they suffer it themselves or witness it against a colleague.
If you are not sure of your rights at work – be it for a private employer or indeed the Armed Forces – Gepp's is a panel member of Forces Law and our expert team is here to assist you explore the avenues available to you to ensure that you are heard and that your rights are protected to the extent possible.
For assistance with any Employment Law issues, please contact us.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.