Equality is essentially about creating a fairer society where everyone can participate and has the opportunity to fulfil their potential. It is underpinned by legislation designed to address unfair discrimination (past, present or potential) that is based on membership of a particular group. In some circumstances, positive action is encouraged to address discrimination. It is often summarised in terms of:
- Equal access
- Equal treatment
- Equal outcomes
- Equality of opportunity
Diversity is about the recognition and valuing of difference in its broadest sense, and creating a working culture and practices that recognise, respect, value and harness difference for the benefit of the organisation and the individual. The term describes the range of visible and non-visible differences that exist between people. Managing diversity harnesses these differences to create a productive environment in which everybody feels valued, where talents are fully utilised and in which organisational goals are met.
Equality and diversity are not interchangeable but are interdependent. There is no advancement of equality if difference is not recognised and valued.
More information on equalities is available from the DH equalities website. The Department of Health also published the "No Health Without Mental Health" Strategy in February 2011, which summarises actions on equality in chapter 6 and includes an analysis of the impact on equality.