Glossary of Terms

Regular or intermittent absence from work, often due to ill health.
Absolute right
A right that is so fundamental that it can never be interfered with, for example, the right not to be tortured.
Access to Work
A UK government programme aimed at supporting disabled people to take up or remain in work by providing practical and financial support.
Adoption Leave
An employee who adopts a child is entitled to time off work as soon as the child starts to live with them.
Affirmative Action
These are actions or policies favoring those who tend to suffer from discrimination, especially in relation to employment or education.
Where this is referred to, it refers to a person belonging to a particular age (e.g. 32 year olds) or range of ages (e.g. 18 – 30 year olds).
Age Discrimination
Treating someone less favourably because of their actual or perceived age, or because of the age of someone with whom they associate.
Stereotyping and discriminating against individuals or groups on the basis of their age. Ageism can be casual or systematic.
A (typically) straight and / or cis person who supports members of the LGBT community.
A system of training a new generation of practitioners of a trade or profession with on-the-job training and often some accompanying study (classroom work and reading).
Asexual (Ace)
Someone who does not experience sexual attraction.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
A condition marked by persistent inattention, hyperactivity, and sometimes impulsivity.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
This is a developmental disorder characterised by difficulties with social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior.
BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic)
This is a term widely used in the UK to describe people of non-white descent.
Bi or Bisexuality
Bi is an umbrella term used to describe a romantic and / or sexual orientation towards more than one gender.
Bi people may describe themselves using oneor more of a wide variety of terms, including, but not limited to, bisexual, pan, queer, and other non-monosexual identities.
The fear or dislike of someone who identifies as bi based on prejudice or negative attitudes, beliefs or views about bi people. Biphobic bullying may be targeted at people who are, or who are perceived to be, bi.
A state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by long-term involvement in situations that are emotionally demanding.
Career Progression
The advancement in an individual’s employment within an organization.
Cisgender (Cis)
A term used to describe individuals whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth.
Civil and political rights
The rights of individuals to liberty and equality; sometimes referred to as first generation rights. Civil and political rights include freedom to worship, freedom of thought and expression, to vote, to take part in political life such as voting, to freely associate and to have access to information.
Civil Partnership
A legally recognised union of a same-sex couple, with rights and responsibilities identical to those of a marriage. Extended to opposite-sex couples in the UK in 2019.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
A type of talking treatment which focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and behaviour, and teaches you coping skills for dealing with different problems.
A form of talking therapy that allows people to discuss their problems and any difficult feelings in a safe, confidential environment.
Calling someone by their birth name after they have changed their name. This term is often associated with trans people who have changed their name as part of their transition.
Direct Discrimination
When someone is treated less favourably compared to another person in a similar situation.
A physical or mental condition that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal daily activities, as defined by the Equality Act 2010.
Disability Confident Scheme
A UK government scheme designed to help employers recruit and retain disabled people and people with health conditions for their skills and talent.
Disability Discrimination
Treating someone less favourably or putting them at a disadvantage because of their disability.
Treating someone less favorably based on their race or religion.
Diversity refers to the presence of a wide range of variation in the qualities or attributes among people in a group, organisation, or society. In the workplace, diversity usually refers to the variety of differences between people such as gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, etc.
A specific learning disorder that is characterised by impairments in learning basic arithmetic facts, processing numerical magnitude and performing accurate and fluent calculations.
A deficiency in the ability to write, primarily in terms of handwriting, but also in terms of coherence.
A learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling.
Dyspraxia (also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder or DCD)
A common disorder affecting fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults.
Economic Inequality
The disparity in levels of economic assets, such as income and wealth, and access to goods, services, education, and opportunities across a population.
Education Mobility
The ability of an individual to improve their education level compared to their parents.
Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)
A work-based intervention programme designed to enhance the emotional, mental, and general psychological well-being of all employees.
Employment Tribunal
An independent tribunal in the UK that resolves disputes between employers and employees over employment rights.
Equal Pay
This is the right for men and women to receive equal pay for doing equal work.
This is the state of being equal in status, rights, and opportunities. It’s about ensuring individuals or groups of individuals are not treated differently or less favorably based on their specific protected characteristics.
Equality Act 2010
An Act of Parliament of the UK, which is a discrimination law that protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society.
Equality Impact Assessment
This is a process designed to ensure that a policy, project or scheme does not discriminate against any disadvantaged or vulnerable people.
Equality of Opportunity
The idea that everyone should be given an equal chance to succeed, regardless of their socio-economic background.
Equality of Outcome
The idea that everyone should end up with the same rewards, regardless of their starting point.
Creating fair access, opportunity and advancement for people from under-represented groups.
Refers to a person’s identification with a particular ethnic group, which can be based on characteristics such as common language, ancestral, social, cultural, or national experience.
Fair Access
Ensuring individuals from all socio-economic backgrounds have equal opportunity to access roles and positions, particularly in higher education and high-demand occupations.
Family-friendly Policies
Policies designed to support employees in balancing family and work responsibilities. This may include maternity leave, paternity leave, shared parental leave, and flexible working hours.
Flexible Working
A type of working arrangement which gives some degree of flexibility on how long, where, when and at what times employees work.
A person who is attracted to people of the same sex. While it can refer to individuals of any gender, it is more commonly used to refer to men.
Gender Bias
Prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s gender or sex.
Gender Discrimination
Treating a person less favorably based on their gender identity. This is also unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.
Gender Dysphoria
A medical diagnosis for someone who experiences distress because there is a mismatch between their sex assigned at birth and their gender identity.
Gender Equality
The state in which access to rights or opportunities is unaffected by gender.
Gender Expression
The external manifestation of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut, voice, or body characteristics.
Gender Identity
A person’s internal sense of their own gender, whether that is male, female, or something else.
Gender Pay Gap
The difference between the average earnings of men and women, expressed relative to men’s earnings.
Gender Reassignment
The process of transitioning from one gender to another. This is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.
Gender Reassignment
A process which is undertaken under medical supervision for the purpose of reassigning a person’s sex by changing physiological or other characteristics of sex. It includes any part of such process.
Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC)
A document that legally recognises a person’s acquired gender.
Glass Ceiling
A metaphorical barrier to advancement in a profession, particularly affecting women and members of minorities.
Unwanted behaviour related to a relevant protected characteristic, such as age, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for that individual.
Unwanted behaviour related to a protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for that individual.
Hidden Disabilities
Disabilities which are not immediately apparent, such as mental health conditions, chronic pain or fatigue, sight or hearing impairments, diabetes, neurological disorders, learning differences and cognitive dysfunctions.
The fear, hatred, discomfort with, or mistrust of people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
Ensuring that all individuals feel valued, respected and supported, regardless of neurological differences.
Inclusive Employer
An employer who fosters a culture where differences are valued and everyone has the opportunity to develop skills and talents consistent with the principles of fairness, equality and respect.
Income Gap
The disparity between the rich and the poor. It can also refer to wage disparities between groups such as gender, race, or social class.
Income Inequality
The unequal distribution of household or individual income across the various participants in an economy.
Indirect Age Discrimination
Occurs when a policy, practice, procedure, or workplace rule applies to all workers, but disadvantages those of a particular age or age group.
Indirect Discrimination
Occurs when a policy, practice, procedure, or workplace rule applies to all workers, but disadvantages those with a protected characteristic.
Institutional Racism
Policies, practices or procedures that result in some racial groups being disadvantaged or receiving less favorable treatment than others.
A temporary position with an emphasis on on-the-job training rather than merely employment.
A concept often used in critical theories to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another.
A term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit typical definitions of female or male.
A woman who is attracted to other women.
An acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (or Questioning), Intersex, Asexual, with the plus sign (+) representing other identities not explicitly mentioned.
Mandatory Retirement Age
Mandatory ReThe age at which employees in certain occupations must retire, if there is a fair reason for it.
A legally recognized contract between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, in which they become husband and wife.
Maternity Leave
The period of time when a woman takes a break from work because she is about to have, or has just had, a baby.
Mental Health
Refers to our cognitive, behavioural, and emotional well-being. It is all about how we think, feel, and behave.
Mental Health Disorders
Health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking, or behaviour, including depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and addictive behaviours.
Mental Illness
A broad term which includes a range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect mood, thinking and behaviour.
A social system, society, or organization in which people get success or power because of their abilities, not because of their money or social position.
Everyday, subtle and often automatic interactions or behaviors that communicate some sort of bias against marginalized groups, including racial and religious groups.
A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
Neuro-inclusive Workplace
A work environment that is inclusive and supportive of neurodivergent individuals, recognizing and valuing the strengths and differences in neurological function.
These terms refer to individuals who have neurological differences like autism, ADHD, dyslexia, etc.
This term describes the natural range of differences in human brain function. It suggests that neurological differences like autism and ADHD are the result of normal, natural variation in the human genome.
Neurodiversity at Work Charter
Launched by the UK’s National Autistic Society, this charter is a public commitment by organizations to carry out specific activities that make the workplace more autism-friendly.
This term is used to describe individuals whose brain development and functioning are within typical ranges of the human population. It’s often used as the opposite of neurodiverse.
A term for people who do not identify exclusively as male or female. It includes a spectrum of gender identities that are not strictly masculine or feminine.
Non-binary (also known as Genderqueer)
A spectrum of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine.
Occupational Health
A multidisciplinary field of healthcare dedicated to the well-being and safety of employees in the workplace, with a strong focus on injury prevention and education.
Occupational Mobility
The ability of an individual to move up or down in occupational hierarchy.
Occupational Requirement
This refers to a situation where being of a particular sex, race, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age, or not being a transsexual person, is an occupational requirement for a particular job.
Parental Leave
The right to take time off work to look after a child or make arrangements for the child’s welfare.
Paternity Leave
The period of time when a father takes a break from work after the birth or adoption of his child.
Pay Transparency
An organizational practice of disclosing salaries and wage ranges to employees or the general public.
Positive Action
This includes measures that are designed to counteract the effects of past discrimination and to help abolish stereotyping.
Positive Action
Measures taken to encourage and enable individuals of under-represented ages to overcome or minimise disadvantage, meet their different needs, or enable their participation in employment.
The action of attending work while sick, often leading to a drop in productivity.
Protected Characteristics
This term comes from the Equality Act 2010 and refers to nine characteristics which are protected by law to prevent discrimination. These are: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.
A term used by people who reject specific labels of romantic orientation, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity. It can also be a political statement, as well as a sexual orientation, which advocates breaking binary thinking and seeing both sexual orientation and gender identity as potentially fluid.
The process of exploring one’s own gender identity, sexual orientation, or sexual identity.
A group of people who share the same language, history, characteristics, and geographical origins. The Equality Act 2010 includes color, nationality, and ethnic or national origins as part of the definition of race.
Race Equality Charter (REC)
A framework through which institutions work to identify and self-reflect on institutional and cultural barriers standing in the way of minority ethnic staff and students.
Racial and Religious Harassment
Unwanted behavior related to race or religion which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for that individual.
Reasonable Adjustments
Changes made in the workplace or in working arrangements to ensure that an employee is not disadvantaged because of a protected characteristic. Examples might include providing special equipment, making physical changes to the workplace, or allowing flexible working hours.
Religion or Belief
The protected characteristic of religion or belief includes any religion or religious belief, or a lack of any religion or belief.
The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties or adapt to change; toughness.
Same-Sex Marriage
A marriage between partners of the same sex. Legalized in the UK in 2014.
Sensory Sensitivity
This term is used to describe the heightened sensitivity to sensory input experienced by some neurodivergent individuals.
Sex Discrimination
Treating a person less favorably because of their sex. This is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.
Sexual Harassment
Unwanted behavior of a sexual nature which violates a person’s dignity, makes them feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated, or creates a hostile or offensive environment.
Sexual Orientation
A pattern of romantic and/or sexual attraction to men, women, both genders, neither gender, or another gender.
Shared Parental Leave
A statutory right for eligible parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay in the first year after the birth or adoption of their child.
Social Exclusion
The process in which individuals or entire communities of people are systematically blocked from rights, opportunities, and resources.
Social Mobility
The ability of an individual or family to move up or down the social and economic ladder within a society.
Social Mobility Commission
An independent advisory non-departmental public body in the UK established to monitor progress towards improving social mobility.
Socio-economic Background
The social and economic circumstances that a person is born into; often influences their educational and professional opportunities.
Socio-economic Diversity
A variety of experiences, identities and backgrounds within a group of people based on their socio-economic status.
Statutory Rights
These are legal rights given to employees by UK law.
Self-stimulatory behavior, which is the repetition of physical movements, sounds, or repetitive movement of objects. This is common in individuals with autism.
A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.
Talent Pipeline
A pool of potential candidates, either employees who are already employed by a company but who may advance, or external candidates, who might be potential candidates for future hiring.
Therapy or Psychotherapy
Treatment intended to relieve or heal a disorder, often involves talking about your thoughts with a professional.
Transgender (Trans)
A term for people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.
The process of changing one’s physical appearance and/or societal role to align with one’s gender identity.
The fear, hatred, discomfort with, or mistrust of people who are transgender.
Unconscious Bias
Social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their conscious awareness.
Unpaid Leave
Time off from work that is not paid.
This refers to unfair treatment of an employee who has complained about discrimination or supported someone else’s claim.
The state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy. This can include aspects of physical, mental and social health.
Work-related Stress
This refers to stress caused or made worse by work.
Workplace Wellness Programme
Organizational policy designed to support healthy behaviour in the workplace and to improve health outcomes.