I was amused and shocked in equal measure by the recent outrageous sexist comments reportedly made by allegedly gaffe prone former Japanese Prime Minster Mr Yoshiro Mori, currently Tokyo Olympics Chief on the prospect of increasing female board members. Specifically the need to ensure "their speaking time is restricted somewhat, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying". Obviously, he is in dire need of some better equality and diversity training.
The timing of this BBC article was swiftly followed a day later by an Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruling this side of the world in a case called Allay (UK) Ltd v Gehlen in which it held that 'stale' diversity training was insufficient to establish a reasonable steps defence to a claim of racial harassment. The ‘reasonable steps’ defence under the Equality Act 2010 provides that it is a defence for the employer to show that it took ‘all reasonable steps’ to prevent employees from either committing a particular discriminatory act or committing such acts in general.
The EAT accepted that employees had received training that covered harassment related to race but noted that the training had been delivered in early 2015 and was ‘clearly stale’. It is now 2021. It found that Allay (UK) Ltd had not taken all reasonable steps to avoid discrimination; a reasonable step would have been to provide refresher training and the need to provide such training was amply demonstrated by the remarks made by the harasser and the failure of three of the Claimant's colleagues to properly react to the harassment.
Make sure your equality and diversity training is never be found to be 'stale'. Organise refresher training with us at Anthony Collins to avoid the embarrassing scenario from ever arising where your employees admit that the training has faded from their memories or don't realise that something is not just 'banter' but likely to count as harassment or discrimination. Ensure that your managers know what steps to take when they observe harassment so they can swiftly and proactively take action and above all, avoid the risk of some very expensive employment tribunal claims and significant reputational damage coming your way! Contact me at Anthony Collins to arrange for us to deliver to you some interactive, practical training on equality, diversity and inclusion.
"If we increase the number of female board members, we have to make sure their speaking time is restricted somewhat, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying," Mr Mori was quoted as saying by the Asahi Shimbun newspa