Human Rights Commission to investigate forced labour and women on boards

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The Equality and Human Rights Commission has set out a programme of work to tackle entrenched inequalities and protect the human rights of everyone in Britain, including people in some of the most vulnerable situations across England, Scotland and Wales.

The Commission’s Business Plan for 2014/15 sets out a range of projects it will undertake over the next year. Particular areas include:

  • Safeguarding people with mental health conditions in State detention
  • Investigating concerns about possible unsafe working environments, discrimination, non-payment of wages and forced labour in the cleaning sector
  • Ensuring job adverts do not discriminate against groups of workers, for example by targeting those of a particular nationality
  • Following up recent concerns about failures leading to poor care and risks to patient safety, by working to raise levels of compliance with equality and human rights standards in health and social care
  • Tackling the recognised significant under reporting of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender hate crime
  • Contributing to work to reduce incidents of female genital mutilation
  • Seeking improvements for disabled people in access to banking services and opportunities to participate in sport
  • Tackling the ongoing under-representation of women on corporate boards by improving recruitment practice in FTSE 350 companies.

Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “Equality and human rights are for everyone and, while we should be proud of the real progress Britain has already made to become a fairer and more inclusive society, we must also recognise and challenge persisting unfairness, intolerance, injustice and indignity.

“Women still lag behind men in the workplace, in promotion and pay at all levels as well as on the boards of our biggest companies. Older people with limited capacity to assert their own rights are sometimes treated in ways that do not accord them the dignity and respect to which they are entitled. And some people are subject to working conditions that are akin to slavery.

“The Commission’s Business Plan sets out our ambitious plans to achieve progress on these and other important issues over the year ahead.  We must safeguard the gains we have made and continue to drive progress towards greater fairness, dignity and respect.”

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