Labour Rights

Affirmative action policies to reduce discrimination in the workplace are absent


Employees have the right to equal treatment without discrimination, irrespective of their race, ethnicity, sex, age, disabilities, religion and other characteristics.


Employees also have the right to equal pay for equal work and the right to equal opportunity to be promoted to an appropriate higher level. Affirmative action policies may reduce discrimination within the workplace by requiring that affirmative action be taken to increase equality and representation of minority groups. Affirmative action policies can work to mitigate unconscious bias in the recruitment, retention or promotion of minority employees, such as women, racial minorities, persons from underprivileged backgrounds and disabled persons.


A business should develop, implement and monitor policies that actively promote the recruitment, retention and promotion of people in minority groups to overcome unconscious bias in selection processes. In this context, ‘affirmative’ means that the business has actively sought to include minority candidates in the process and does not mean that a business must give preferential treatment to any one group. Affirmative action policies may also include allowing flexibility or adaptation in the working environment to accommodate disabilities or women returning to work after children.


Businesses can seek to reduce unconscious bias through training and education. By ensuring equality in the recruitment, retention and promotion of all employees, including minorities and underrepresented groups, the resulting diversity can lead to a more productive, safe and inclusive workplace.  

Relevant Human Rights Instruments

ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, 1998
Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100)
Convention concerning Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation, 1958 (No. 111)
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, Article 23
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966, Article 7
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 1965, Article 5(e)
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1979, Articles 4 and 11
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006, Article 27



SDG 8.5

Affirmative action policies assist in the achievement of SDG 8.5: By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.

SDG 10


SDG 10.2

Affirmative action policies also promote the achievement of SDG 10.2: By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.

SDG 16


SDG 16.7

Affirmative action policies support SDG 16.7: Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels.