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Solutions for equality and growth overview

We are working with the Equality and Diversity Forum and several local Citizens Advice partners to deliver this project and look for innovative practical solutions that will help workers and people looking for work.

We have looked at the existing evidence on discrimination and in particular at the barriers to employment and advancement in the workplace faced by four groups of workers: women, disabled people, Black Asian minority ethnic (BAME) people and lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans (LGBT) people.

We listened carefully to the experiences shared with us in the focus groups organised by our local Citizens Advice offices. The real life stories we heard helped us to develop solutions that we think will help to overcome poor practice and remove barriers that stop hard working SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and workers to fulfil their potential. We focussed on how we could simplify processes and improve good practice in practical cost effective ways.

We would like to thank the European Union Progress programme and the Government Equalities Office who have supported this project.

Project background

We know that equality is good for the economy. We also know that many people experience barriers to finding work and being able to progress and do their best at work. Women, disabled, Black Asian minority ethnic (BAME) and lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans (LGBT) people face additional barriers to realising their talent and potential. This is expensive for all of us, limiting growth and productivity, and leading to wider problems such as poor physical and mental health.

Every week in our local Citizens Advice offices our advisers help many clients who are experiencing problems at work. Often harmful damage has already been done when clients come to us. Their dignity and confidence has been undermined because of who they are. They come for help because they face losing their job, or being passed over for promotion or training. Last year Citizens Advice helped clients with nearly 400,000 employment enquiries.

We know that many workers are keen to do their best for the businesses they work for, but they have to overcome tough barriers to fulfil their potential at work.  We see this happening to hard-working disabled people, LGBT people, BAME people, and women who are pregnant or returning from maternity leave.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have great strengths in flexibility, informality and an entrepreneurial spirit. Those same qualities can provide fantastic opportunities for work and advancement, to the hard working employees who want to fulfil their full potential. SMEs employ over 15 million people, and make a crucially valuable contribution to the economy, with a turnover of £1.6 trillion. When good equality practices help those workers to achieve and be successful, it is good for SMEs and the economy.


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