Henrietta Spalding, Head of Advocacy, Changing Faces UK and Business in the Community Same but Different participant asks employers to join and pledge their support to the face equality movement that celebrates its first national day this week.
Friday 26th May 2017 will be the UK’s first Face Equality Day. At Changing Faces, we are calling on individuals and organisations nationwide to support our vision of a society where all individuals with disfigurements are treated fairly and equally irrespective of their appearance. We are aiming to remove the stigma, prejudice and discrimination that people face so they can have the same life choices and opportunities as everyone else.
We will be publishing Disfigurement in the UK, major ground-breaking research on the everyday lives of people who have a mark, scar or condition that affects their appearance. There are approximately 1.3 million people who live with a disfigurement in the UK such as cleft lip and palate, scarring from burns, cancer or a skin condition. The report speaks to a vastly unequal playing field in almost every aspect of life including the workplace, schools, healthcare, personal relationships and crime.
Individuals are too often left with lower aspirations and expectations, are under or unemployed and resigned to the inevitability of bullying, harassment and being treated unfairly at work. Our results will show that too many individuals screen themselves out of opportunities throughout their careers because of concerns that their appearance would hinder them at interview or promotion and how they would be treated at work. We know too through many years of working with employers, that they can be uncertain and uncomfortable about how to handle disfigurement, being fearful of saying the wrong thing, or unwittingly discounting a candidate’s skills at interview or treating someone unfairly.
The law provides protection for people with ‘severe disfigurements’ under the Equality Act 2010 whilst applying for jobs and in work and we ask all employers to be aware of their legal obligations to ensure people with disfigurements are not treated unfairly or discriminated. They could include disfigurement in their equal opportunities monitoring forms to ensure that their workforce is appropriately diverse. Employers could provide ‘disfigurement confidence’ training to ensure their staff are informed and confident so that individuals don’t get overlooked for promotion and other opportunities. Staff should receive face equality training to ensure that they do not treat colleagues or clients with appearance bias and discrimination.
As a professional woman born with a condition that affects my appearance who has not been held back, I was thrilled to take part recently in Business in the Community’s ‘Same but Different’ project which celebrates the diversity of women making unique individuals and contributions to the workplace. And I personally call on employers, senior leaders and HR managers to join the face equality movement, to pledge their support using the #FaceEquality hashtag to commit to ensuring that individuals with disfigurements can reach their full potential and be treated fairly, equally and with respect regardless of their appearance.
Henrietta Spalding, Head of Advocacy,
Facebook and Instagram @changingfacesuk
Same But Different
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