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This blog series by Lizzy and Frankie introduces Fair Work. This refers to all aspects of working for your organisation, from creating a job spec and developing a positive organisational culture to the day-to-day experience of working and progressing in your organisation. In this blog we explain ‘opportunity’.

What is Opportunity?

Opportunity allows people to access and progress in work and employment and is a crucial dimension of fair work. Meeting legal obligations by ensuring equal access to work and equal opportunities in work sets a minimum requirement for fair work. This protects workers in those groups subject to specific legal protections on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, age and disability. 

Fair opportunity is, however, more than the chance to access work. Attitudes, behaviours, policies and practices within organisations, and crucially, the outcomes these produce, signal and reflect the value placed on fair opportunity. Being proactive in ensuring opportunity for all can highlight current practice, signal areas of change and intervention, and produce a range of benefits for workers and employers. 

Why is it important? 

For individuals: Opportunity that provides fair and equal access to work and to progressing in work improves their life chances and creates opportunities for social mobility. Irrelevant barriers to access and participation are removed, so that employers and employees can focus on merit, performance and contribution. 

For organisations: Fair opportunities lead to diverse organisations where all talents from all sections of the labour market are valued, developed and utilised. Organisations can benefit from the richness of talent and diversity of ideas that this creates. Organisations may also benefit from improved recruitment, retention and reputation. 

For society: Fair opportunities break down labour market and related inequality, reduces the costs of inefficient resource allocation and helps create a more equitable, inclusive and cohesive society. 

How can I implement Opportunity within my organisation?  

Fair opportunity can be supported in a variety of different ways: through robust recruitment and selection procedures; paid internship arrangements equally open to all; training and development to support access to work for all; promotion and progression practices that are open and equally attainable by all, irrespective of personal and demographic characteristics.  

  • Investigate and interrogate the workforce profile in your organisation and sector, identify where any barriers to opportunity arise and address these creatively.  
  • Adopt a life stage approach that helps workers at all ages maximise their contribution.  
  • Engage with diverse and local communities. 
  • Use buddying and mentoring to support new workers and those with distinctive needs. 
  • Undertake equalities profiling in the provision of training and development activities and in career progression procedures and outcomes.  
  • Invest in and utilise the skills and knowledge of union equality, learning and other workplace representatives.  

What MGS are doing as employers to enable Opportunity: 

We are committed to supporting and encouraging diversity and inclusion across our workforce and Board of Trustees. We regularly analyse our staff demographics through data provided by staff within our HR system, and our trustee demographics through an anonymous online survey. We also have an Equal Opportunities Policy in place, the purpose of which is to provide equality and fairness for all in our employment.  

At MGS, we engage with schemes which seek to offer opportunity to a wide variety of participants. For example, MGS regularly hosts Modern ApprenticesThese have included Digital Marketing and Business Administration Modern Apprenticeships. Not only are these of great benefit to the young person, but MGS has also found that it has learnt a great deal and continues to benefit from the contribution made by the Apprentices. 

For the last three years we have been part of the Career Ready programme which aims to help young people progress to positive post-school destinations and to prosper in the world of work. This involves a member of staff mentoring an S5/S6 student over the course of around 18 months, and MGS providing a paid 4-week work placement in the summer.  

Our Personal Development Plans are completed by staff on an annual basis. These help us to identify areas where staff are keen to learn, improve or build on existing skills. They allow the staff and line manager to discuss and plan learning for the next year in line with our organisational Learning and Development plan. MGS has a clear Rewards and Recognition scheme which is values based and directly related to our Behavioural Competency Framework. 

MGS is a Disability Confident Employer which is a government scheme designed to encourage employers to recruit and retain disabled people and those with health conditions. As part of our recruitment and selection process, we commit to offer disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria a job interview.  

What we would like to do:  

MGS has recently signed up to be an employer on the APT (Public Social Partnership) pilot programme of employers looking to reduce the Disability Employment Gap. We are already a partner on the steering group and joining this pilot means we will receive expert support to review and improve our own practice.