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In brief

#MeToo, Black Lives Matter and other issues have raised inclusion to the top of the corporate agenda. ¬†Some employers are now considering radical measures to remove barriers to progress. In doing so, they must consider the UK’s legal framework and in particular, the line between lawful positive action and unlawful positive discrimination.

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Contents

Key takeaways

Recent global events represent a wakeup call for many organisations in their pursuit of a more inclusive and diverse workforce. Issues raised by the transformational #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements (amongst others) have moved inclusion to the top of the corporate agenda and highlighted societal barriers that may have inhibited progress in this area to date.

Whilst most businesses acknowledge the benefits of a diverse workforce, many would agree that tangible progress from previous inclusion and diversity (I&D) programmes has sometimes been painfully slow. As a result, some are now exploring more radical measures that may help ‘shift the needle’.

When formulating I&D strategies, employers must assess proposed measures in the context of the legal framework and pay particular attention to the fine line between lawful positive action, and unlawful positive discrimination. This article considers the boundaries of permitted positive action in the UK and seeks to provide practical guidance for organisations navigating these important issues.

Author

Monica Kurnatowska is a partner in the Firm's London office. She focuses on employment law and has been recognised by Chambers UK as a leading lawyer in her field. Monica is a regular speaker at internal and external seminars and workshops, and has written for a number of external publications on bonus issues, atypical workers, TUPE and outsourcing.

Author

Sam Rayner is an Associate in Baker McKenzie's Employment & Compensation practice, based in London. He qualified as a solicitor in 2017, before joining Baker McKenzie in April 2020 from another international law firm. Clients recommend Sam (Legal 500, 2019) as an "exceptionally bright and highly talented lawyer".