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Equal opportunity is about addressing representation and balance but is a term most often used within human resources, to describe the measures taken by organisations to ensure fairness in employment and the recruitment process. Equal opportunity means treating people as individuals, with different skills and abilities, without making judgements based on stereotypes and is based on offering fair, equal and courteous opportunities to all individuals.

It should include the principle of treating people with fairness and create a way of life, where people of all backgrounds and experience feel appreciated and valued.

Your organisation should have an ‘equal opportunities policy’. This will describe the steps your organisation will take in order to promote equality in the workplace and to abide by equality legislation, such as the Equality Act 2010.

In terms of employment, it is designed to prevent situations such as:

  • An external applicant getting a position because the job wasn’t advertised internally
  • A male employee being paid more than a female colleague for the same job; an employer allowing time off/holidays to workers from one religion but not from other faiths
  • Or a person with a physical impairment being unable to join an organisation due to the lack of facilities, for example, there is no wheelchair access to the building.

There are also many more areas that equality covers.  Basically, equal opportunities ensure that, as far as is reasonably practicable, access to sites and opportunity is open to all.