Zero Discrimination Day: What Employers Need to Know

Today (1 March 2023) is Zero Discrimination Day. The aim of the day is to promote equality and end all forms of discrimination. The day should serve as a reminder to employers on how they can identify, prevent and tackle discrimination.

It is true that change within an organisation starts from the top and employers should be keen to build a culture of trust where employees feel comfortable raising concerns. This culture can be cultivated by ensuring that leaders within the organisation do so by example. Employees are likely to feel more at ease discussing concerns with a leader who understands the importance of tackling discrimination in the workplace and who would be willing to support employees during a difficult time. 


Having an equal, diverse, and inclusive workplace has a number of positive benefits, including:

  • the ability to attract and retain good employees. If an organisation has a reputation of not dealing with allegations of discrimination seriously or ‘sweeping them under the rug’, this can lead to high turnover of employees and a smaller candidate pool for vacancies
  • maintaining a positive morale within the organisation as a whole and within individual teams. Employees are more likely to praise their employer for tackling discriminatory issues and be proud to work for the organisations
  • keeps employees feeling happy and motivated, as well as feeling included. Employees want to feel that they fit in well with their team and this leads to better collaboration and innovation

Preventing discrimination

It is not sufficient to rely solely on employees treating each other with respect, although this should be a standard practice in all organisations. Employers need to consider other steps that can be taken to prevent discrimination in the workplace. Steps to take could include:

  • ensuring that the organisation has an up-to-date Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy which sets out how it prevents discrimination and what steps will be taken if an allegation of discrimination is raised 
  • taking inclusivity in the workplace seriously. All employees should be able to be themselves in the workplace
  • providing regular and meaningful anti-discrimination training to all employees and encourage them to address discrimination in the workplace – even if speaking up may feel uncomfortable
  • avoiding the use of non-inclusive, presumptuous, or discriminatory language, such as asking female staff about their husbands or male staff about their wives
  • ensuring that the organisation’s grievance procedure is clear and transparent on how concerns can be raised and how they will be dealt with 
  • treating any and all allegations of discrimination seriously and always taking action
  • diarising regular catch ups with employees to help build good working relationships 

Tackling discrimination

If an employee raises a complaint of discrimination, whether informally or formally, this should be taken seriously and investigated fully, in line with the employer’s policies. Employees should feel listened to and heard when they are discussing allegations of discrimination. 

Once a grievance officer is appointed, the organisation should ensure that they are given autonomy to investigate the matter fully. The organisation should be mindful of HR being too involved as this can lead to problems if the grievance officer cannot fully justify their investigation and reasons for their decision.

Getting it wrong can have serious consequences for an organisation and it is therefore key to seek specialist advice if there are allegations of discrimination in the workplace. Potential consequences can include:

  • an employee could lodge an employment tribunal claim citing discrimination in the workplace
  • there is no limit to the amount of compensation that can be awarded where there has been a finding of discrimination in the employment tribunal  
  • all employment tribunal judgments are publicly available and media outlets regularly review the Government website to report on judgments that are not favourable to employers
  • there can be serious PR issues if an employee uses social media to vocalise their thoughts about the organisation and how they handle complaints of discrimination. This can lead to ‘cancel culture’ issues and boycotts of organisations 

Given the benefits of creating a diverse and inclusive workplace, as well as the significant risks posed by discriminatory acts which are not tackled appropriately, Zero Discrimination Day is a good opportunity for organisations to take stock of their practices and procedures around discrimination and make changes where needed.


This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.


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