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24% Of Vets ‘Experienced Discrimination’ In The Last Year

July 22nd, 2019

Given that 24 per cent of vets and veterinary students have experienced or witnessed discrimination in the last 12 months, it might be worth getting in touch with discrimination solicitors so you have a contact just in case it happens to you or someone you know in the future.

New research from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has found that 16 per cent of those in the sector have personally come across discrimination within a vet workplace or learning environment in the last 12 months, with one in five witnessing incidents of this nature.

Senior colleagues were responsible for 47 per cent of the incidents, with discrimination from clients making up 35 per cent.

Sex discrimination was found to be the most commonly reported form, making up 44 per cent of all incidents, especially problematic in academic environments and in production animal, equine and mixed practices. Race discrimination followed, making up 27 per cent of incidents.

To help raise awareness of the problem, the BVA is inviting all members of the vet team to join in a conversation on equality and inclusion in the profession, beginning with the launch of a report on discrimination that details two research projects that have been carried out already.

Danielle Dos Santos, BVA junior vice-president, said: “It is completely unacceptable that so many members of the veterinary team are subject to discrimination not just from clients but from members of our own profession.

“Worryingly, it seems that the scale of the issue will come as a surprise to many members of our profession and so it is vital that we all join the conversation and reflect on what role we can play to improve equality and inclusion. The veterinary team must become a safe and supportive environment for everyone. We cannot accept anything less for ourselves, for our colleagues and for our profession.”

Younger vets were significantly more likely than their older counterparts to have personal experience of discrimination in the last year, with female vets over twice as likely to have experienced incidents than male colleagues.

The report was welcomed by UK chief veterinary officer Christine Midlemiss, who said: “[I] thank BVA for raising these important issues through their survey, which will pave the way for a more equal profession.

“Discrimination in the workplace is completely unacceptable. I encourage all veterinary professionals to contribute to the conversation and to speak up about discrimination, and I urge everyone, especially employers, to take action to tackle this kind of behaviour in the workplace.”


What to do if faced with discrimination in the workplace

Under the Equality Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against anyone in the workplace, with nine areas set out as protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

Employees should be able to feel confident in raising issues with their employers and know that they will be taken seriously if they believe they have been subjected to discrimination, or if they think they’ve witnessed similar in the workplace.

Both companies and their members of staff can be held responsible and liable for actions in the event of discrimination. In order to stay within the law, employers should ensure that they promote equality and prevent discrimination by putting policies in place so everyone is aware of what is acceptable and what is expected of them, both as individuals and as part of the overall organisation.

From a business perspective, encouraging understanding of the protected characteristics can help to reduce the chances of complaints being made, as well as the need for disciplinary action and tribunal claims.

It can also help to improve staff morale, since any groups of people or individuals who believe they are being discriminated against are likely to be less productive and more unhappy, as well as lacking in motivation… which can have a big impact on the rest of your staff members.

And don’t forget that you can also enhance your business’s reputation as an equal opportunities employer, giving you even better chances to attract and retain the top talent in your field.


Top tips for employees

If you think you have been unfairly discriminated against at work, there are various avenues you can go down in order to seek redress. Firstly, you should make a complaint directly to the person involved or the organisation itself, before considering mediation or alternative dispute resolution. If these are unsuccessful, you can always make a claim in a court or tribunal.

You would be wise to talk to your employer first of all in order to try and resolve the situation informally. If this is unsuccessful, you may find it helpful to then talk to a trade union representative or an organisation like Citizens Advice.


How employers can prevent discrimination

During recruitment, it’s important that you don’t state or imply in a job ad that you’ll discriminate against anyone and you mustn’t ask anyone about protected characteristics, or if they either have children or plan to have them, as well as whether they’re married, single or in a civil partnership.

And you can only ask about disabilities or health if there are requirements of the job that won’t be met with reasonable adjustments, if you’re trying to find out if someone will require help to take part in the interview or a selection test, or if you’re using positive action to recruit a disabled person.


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