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Explain the attitudes that may lead to discriminatory behaviour

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

NOTE: Although this page has been marked as complete, it has not yet been peer-reviewed or quality-assured, therefore it should be considered a ‘first draft‘ and any information should be fact-checked independently.

Discriminatory behaviour may be both direct and indirect.

Direct discrimination

Direct discrimination is when an individual with a protected characteristic (as defined by the Equality Act 2010) is treated worse than an individual without a protected characteristic. It also applies if an individual is treated differently because somebody assumes they have a protected characteristic or if they are linked to somebody with a protected characteristic. The circumstances of both individuals must be similar for a comparison to be made, however, it is possible to make a case for direct discrimination if it can be shown that the person without a protected characteristic would have been treated differently.

Indirect discrimination

Indirect discrimination occurs if there is a policy or practice that applies to everybody but disadvantages an individual with a protected characteristic in some way. For example, an unnecessary height requirement for a job role could be discriminatory because it could disadvantage women (who are typically shorter), individuals from certain ethnic groups or individuals with disabilities that restrict their growth.

Discrimination can also be inadvertent or deliberate and is often the result of flawed attitudes and beliefs including:

  • Prejudice – deeply ingrained beliefs about individuals from a particular group, often as a result of upbringing (e.g. women are not strong enough to work on a building site)
  • Stereotyping – assuming that the needs and capabilities of all individuals in a particular group are the same (e.g. all Americans are obese)
  • Labelling – using negative words to identify all members of a particular group (e.g. all individuals with schizophrenia are dangerous)