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Exploring the unequal work divide

students studying at UEL

Getting to grips with equality and diversity in the workplace

Putting an ethnically diverse group of people into the same work environment does not necessarily mean that they will be able to integrate with each other.

That is the view of Trevor Phillips, the former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, who told a conference in Canary Wharf organised by the University of East London (UEL) that workplace integration remains a challenge.

“Integration isn’t an automatic human response to diversity," said Mr Phillips. "It’s a learned behaviour. The learning is either inherited, or it’s not.”

Mr Phillips was speaking at the Global Equality and Diversity (GED) Conference, where more than 160 delegates from business, academia and local and national government came together to debate the issue of diversity in the workplace.

The event was organised by UEL’s Noon Centre for Equality and Diversity in Business and supported by the National Equality Standard, Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion and Diversity Jobs.

Mr Phillips told the audience that integration required conscious effort by all parties and could not be achieved overnight.

Despite the challenges, however, Baroness Oona King, the former Labour MP who worked previously as Chief Diversity Officer at Channel 4, said it was encouraging that there was more interest in diversity than ever before.

“Everyone wants to talk about it and look at ways to improve it,” she said.