Leading companies collaborate to spearhead a national equality standard for Britain

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London, 5 July 2012: EY announces the launch of a new business-led working group which aims to develop a national equality standard.

At present there is no recognised industry-led national equality standard for the UK. This has led to a lack of clarity and inconsistency when tackling inequality and promoting inclusion. The partnership announced today intends to work closely with business, including the CBI, to implement a new national equality standard which is entirely pragmatic, business-led and legally sound.

EY will work in collaboration with its partners to develop a national equality standard which sets clear diversity objectives. It is intended that, in order for an organisation to be assessed, an internal audit of the organisation would be conducted by trained auditors and if all the diversity requirements have been satisfied, in accordance to the standard, a national certification would be awarded. The national equality standard aims to launch in early 2013.

Sir David Bell has been appointed as the non-executive chair of the steering committee that will drive its development and the first meeting took place on 2 July.

Sir David said: “Never before has a collaboration of industry specialists joined forces to make the difference in D&I in such a cohesive way.”

The meeting was attended by companies across a number of sectors who are providing sponsorship for the development of the national equality standard. The Equality and Human Rights Commission, who are working with the partners to achieve the objective of establishing a standard, were also in attendance.

Harry Gaskell, UK & Ireland Managing Partner Advisory at EY, said: “We are delighted to be able to announce this landmark partnership which brings us one step further towards a much needed national standard for equality. This partnership reinforces our collective belief that we need a robust diversity standard that will provide businesses with a range of indicators in one place that will help drive sustainable change and will demonstrate exceptional practice.”

Notes to editors

Current sponsors of the national equality standard include: Microsoft, BT Group, Cisco, RBS, WPP, Pearson, Pearn Kandola, Nestlé, The Lawn Tennis Association, National Grid, Sainsbury's, Tesco, BHP Billiton, EDF Energy, MSD and Vodafone.