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Solutions for equality and growth recommendations and report

Report

Published in October 2015 the Solutions for equality and growth report highlights:

  • the contribution made by SMEs to our economy

  • the context for disabled, LGBT and BAME people, and women who are pregnant or returning from maternity leave, and the kinds of discrimination they experience

  • what the different stages of the employment relationship are and the changes that could improve equality and growth for workers and SMEs

  • ten recommendations including short and quick solutions, medium term solutions that build on and complement existing provisions, and proposals for longer term solutions for improving equality and growth in the future.

Solutions for equality and growth recommendations report - executive summary [ 110 kb]

Solutions for equality and growth recommendations report [ 380 kb]

Solutions for equality and growth recommendations report (Welsh) [ 0.69 mb]

Our recommendations

We have developed recommendations with three broad themes:

  • Give the right equality information to SMEs in the right place at the right time, to help SMEs seamlessly achieve good equality practice for their employees. We suggest doing this by using existing business and employment processes and procedures, such as PAYE, fit-notes and MATB1.

  • Encourage and reinforce behaviour changes and improvements in good equality practice. We suggest this can be done through guidance and information cascaded by trusted messengers such as mentors, banks, accountants and SME networks, and through the tax regime for SMEs.

  • Reinforce the guidance given to SMEs by helping workers to develop their potential. We suggest this can be done by providing to employees ‘mirror’ accessible, practical and simple guidance.

The recommended solutions will:

  • help SMEs use good equality practices to achieve growth, including how  to unlock the potential in employees, and make the best decisions about recruitment and retention

  • support workers to be successful and do their best for their businesses

  • create a positive environment for all workers.

Recommendations for intermediaries

First year support for SMEs: Intensive support to build equality into SME good practice in first year of business. Focus on overcoming risk factors and the perception of ‘employment risk’ related to women and minority groups. Help SMEs build a focus on investment in their business through investing in employee skills.      

  • Templates and top tips to simplify and demystify processes

  • Mentoring and support  on equality from trusted messenger

  • The right information given at the right time, in easy to access places eg information about recruitment through PAYE

  • Guidance and information in relatable language.

Ongoing support for SMEs: Provide tools for SME mentors, business advisers, banks and accountants, so equality information & guidance can be given alongside business advice. Focus on maximising the recruitment & talent pool by promoting the flexibility and development opportunities that SMEs can offer employees.

  • Equality e-learning and training package

  • How-to tools for mentors and advisers

  • Promote specific added-value mentoring opportunities to new SMEs, through PAYE and BIS Small Business Growth Voucher Scheme.

Further research: Explore how best to further develop and use the business case for equality, nudge techniques and strategic communications to effect change with SMEs who are not persuaded by the current business case.

Support SMEs to promote flexibility, security & good absence management. Use existing processes and paperwork SMEs have to navigate to provide tailored guidance on equality issues, focused on managing flexible working and absence.

  • Guidance for SMEs on impairments and their impact and workplace adjustments.

  • Guidance on how to create an environment where employees feel they can safely tell an employer about their disability.

  • Add information about Access to Work to fit note forms.

  • Add information about SMEs’ entitlements to reclaim SMP to the MATB1.

Accessible training for SME workers to develop skills.  Simplify processes for accessing workplace training.

  • Free or low cost accessible local or online training to SME employees across the range of skills SMEs need.

  • Database of training providers accessible through SME support and mentoring schemes.

  • Explore fiscal incentives for low cost training, positive action to support underrepresented people or groups.

Support for SMEs to help their employees fulfil their potential. Provide support to SMEs to enable employees to be themselves and do their best for the business. Practical format guide on conversations with employees, including top tips and scenario examples of what to do or say, on:

  • creating a positive working environment

  • awareness of workplace race, religion and belief issues

  • enabling employees to be comfortable being themselves and disclose sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or mental health conditions

  • how to recognise ‘low level’ harassment and nip it in the bud.

Support to SMEs in recruitment and diversity management. Provide e-learning for SMEs, available via a range of trusted sources and tailored to SME audiences, to improve their ability to:

  • recruit the best people and support their progression

  • understand and manage unconscious bias.

Build support and networks between SMEs and NGOs: Develop range of models for advice agencies to increase their support to SMEs.

Role of independent advice agencies in cascading good equality & diversity practice: Cascade the project adviser training, across the Citizens Advice service, and to other independent advice providers. Training supports advisers to help employees understand how and when to provide information to their employers and how to have a conversation with their employer, and supports advisers to play a non-adversarial advocacy role.

Recommendations for employers

First year support for SMEs: Intensive support to build equality into SME good practice in first year of business. Focus on overcoming risk factors and the perception of ‘employment risk’ related to women and minority groups. Help SMEs build a focus on investment in their business through investing in employee skills.

  • Templates and top tips to simplify and demystify processes

  • Mentoring and support  on equality from trusted messenger

  • The right information given at the right time, in easy to access places eg information about recruitment through PAYE

  • Guidance and information in relatable language.

Ongoing support for SMEs: Provide tools for SME mentors, business advisers, banks and accountants, so equality information & guidance can be given alongside business advice. Focus on maximising the recruitment & talent pool by promoting the flexibility and development opportunities that SMEs can offer employees.

  • Equality e-learning and training package

  • How-to tools for mentors and advisers

  • Promote specific added-value mentoring opportunities to new SMEs, through PAYE and BIS Small Business Growth Voucher Scheme.

Support SMEs to promote flexibility, security & good absence management. Use existing processes and paperwork SMEs have to navigate to provide tailored guidance on equality issues, focused on managing flexible working and absence.

  • Guidance for SMEs on impairments and their impact and workplace adjustments.

  • Guidance on how to create an environment where employees feel they can safely tell an employer about their disability.

  • Add information about Access to Work to fit note forms.

  • Add information about SMEs’ entitlements to reclaim SMP to the MATB1.

Accessible training for SME workers to develop skills.  Simplify processes for accessing workplace training.

  • Free or low cost accessible local or online training to SME employees across the range of skills SMEs need.

  • Database of training providers accessible through SME support and mentoring schemes.

  • Explore fiscal incentives for low cost training, positive action to support underrepresented people or groups.

Support for SMEs to help their employees fulfil their potential. Provide support to SMEs to enable employees to be themselves and do their best for the business. Practical format guide on conversations with employees, including top tips and scenario examples of what to do or say, on:

  • creating a positive working environment

  • awareness of workplace race, religion and belief issues

  • enabling employees to be comfortable being themselves and disclose sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or mental health conditions

  • how to recognise ‘low level’ harassment and nip it in the bud.

Support to SMEs in recruitment and diversity management. Provide e-learning for SMEs, available via a range of trusted sources and tailored to SME audiences, to improve their ability to:

  • recruit the best people and support their progression

  • understand and manage unconscious bias.

Recommendations for government

First year support for SMEs: Intensive support to build equality into SME good practice in first year of business. Focus on overcoming risk factors and the perception of ‘employment risk’ related to women and minority groups. Help SMEs build a focus on investment in their business through investing in employee skills.

  • Templates and top tips to simplify and demystify processes

  • Mentoring and support  on equality from trusted messenger

  • The right information given at the right time, in easy to access places eg information about recruitment through PAYE

  • Guidance and information in relatable language.

Ongoing support for SMEs: Provide tools for SME mentors, business advisers, banks and accountants, so equality information & guidance can be given alongside business advice. Focus on maximising the recruitment & talent pool by promoting the flexibility and development opportunities that SMEs can offer employees.

  • Equality e-learning and training package

  • How-to tools for mentors and advisers

  • Promote specific added-value mentoring opportunities to new SMEs, through PAYE and BIS Small Business Growth Voucher Scheme.

Further research: Explore how best to further develop and use the business case for equality, nudge techniques and strategic communications to effect change with SMEs who are not persuaded by the current business case.

Support SMEs to promote flexibility, security & good absence management. Use existing processes and paperwork SMEs have to navigate to provide tailored guidance on equality issues, focused on managing flexible working and absence.

  • Guidance for SMEs on impairments and their impact and workplace adjustments.

  • Guidance on how to create an environment where employees feel they can safely tell an employer about their disability.

  • Add information about Access to Work to fit note forms.

  • Add information about SMEs’ entitlements to reclaim SMP to the MATB1.

Accessible training for SME workers to develop skills.  Simplify processes for accessing workplace training.

  • Free or low cost accessible local or online training to SME employees across the range of skills SMEs need.

  • Database of training providers accessible through SME support and mentoring schemes.

  • Explore fiscal incentives for low cost training, positive action to support underrepresented people or groups.

Support for SMEs to help their employees fulfil their potential. Provide support to SMEs to enable employees to be themselves and do their best for the business. Practical format guide on conversations with employees, including top tips and scenario examples of what to do or say, on:

  • creating a positive working environment

  • awareness of workplace race, religion and belief issues

  • enabling employees to be comfortable being themselves and disclose sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or mental health conditions

  • how to recognise ‘low level’ harassment and nip it in the bud.

Support to SMEs in recruitment and diversity management. Provide e-learning for SMEs, available via a range of trusted sources and tailored to SME audiences, to improve their ability to:

  • recruit the best people and support their progression

  • understand and manage unconscious bias.

Build support and networks between SMEs and NGOs: Develop range of models for advice agencies to increase their support to SMEs.

Consider tax relief, deductions or allowances. Reinforce and encourage SME behaviour change to increase the recruitment of and retention of disabled people and women.

  • Tax break to support SMEs with the cost of making adjustments for disabled employees.

  • Automatic tax relief for SMEs reclaiming Statutory Maternity Pay