About Diversity Factor
Diversity Factor is a consultancy firm specializing in diversity management at organizations in Hong Kong which are facing a growing call for compliance, value creation and leadership in relation to their diverse work force and clientele. We believe that by proactively managing and capitalizing on diversity, an organization can benefit from preventing reputational risk, complying with the law, being accountable and responsible corporate citizens as well as creating new market opportunities. Our team consists of professional consultants with a wealth of expertise in training, facilitation, human rights law and, most importantly, business acumen. We understand an organization’s accountability to the bottom line while we note the growing importance of businesses’ and public bodies’ accountability to their stakeholders as well. We see a diversity-aware organization not only meeting legal obligations imposed by the law but also creating new opportunities in branding and the marketplace.
Our Team Roddy Shaw Principal Consultant BSc (CityU), LLM (HKU, Human Rights Law), MA (HKU)
Associate Professor of Law University of North Carolina Specialty: Race & Sexual Orientation, International Human Rights Law
Training Manager Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission (Former Head of Training & Consultancy Services, Equal Opportunities Commission, Hong Kong) Specialty: Race & Disability
Associate Consultant BSocSc (CUHK), MA (CUHK)
Vera Lam Legal Consultant & Mediator LLM (CityU), MHKIAC
Stanley Ma Adjunct Lecturer Barrister-at-law, LLM (HKU, Human Rights Law)
Our Advisors Dr Kelley Loper Assistant Professor Faculty of Law, University of Hong Kong Deputy Director, the Centre for Comparative and Public Law (CCPL) Director, LLM in Human Rights Programme Specialty: Race, Equality & Non-discrimination
Professor Holning Lau
BA (HKU), MSc (U London), MPhil (U London), MBE Director, Centre for Development & Resources for Students, University of Hong Kong Vice Chairman, Joint Council for Physically and Mentally Handicapped President, Hong Kong Blind Union Specialty: Disability, Equality and Public Policy, Civil Society
Christopher Avery Founder Business & Human Rights Resource Centre Specialty: Corporate Social Responsibility, International Human Rights Standards, Communications & Reporting
Hong Kong has enacted 4 pieces of anti-discrimination legislation: Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO), Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO), Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (FSDO) and Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO). The statutes bind both the private and public sectors in the areas of education, employment, provision of goods, services and facilities and membership to clubs and professional organizations. All organizations must comply with the statutory provisions. Any contravention of the laws may result in complaints to the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC), litigation, payment of damages as well as reputational risks. The organization in which the respondent is employed bears vicarious liability. Whilst the individual staff member will be liable for their actions the employer is also liable for any unlawful actions of its employees. This is known as vicarious liability. An organisation may discharge its vicarious liability by taking certain steps. It is important that an organization has in place both preventive and corrective measures towards discrimination. Some of the preventive measures include: • A clear and well publicized equal opportunity policy • Equal opportunity training for all levels of staff so that they are aware of their individual and organizational responsibility towards ensuring fair treatment of their fellow colleagues and clients • Review and design of procedures and a mechanism of preventing, addressing and remedying cases of discrimination Some of the corrective measures include: • An appropriate complaint handling mechanism • Invoking internal and/or external Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism • Dealing with complaints filed with the EOC • Policy & practices review
Communications & Reporting
Communications & Reporting
Sustainability / Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Reporting has recently become a mainstream practice for publicly listed companies to demonstrate their commitment to transparency, accountability and sustainability. Among many different aspects of being a responsible business, diversity is one of the key areas of reporting. Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the multi-stakeholder network that develops the Reporting Framework used by thousands of corporations worldwide today, has attached significant importance to the reporting of diversity measures at organizations. The elements of reporting include: stakeholders engagement, governance body for social performance, equal opportunity policy, training and awareness, workforce breakdown by age, gender and region, diversity and equal opportunity, equal pay indicators, number of discrimination cases and follow-up, etc. Besides GRI, the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative have been leading the development of human rights and diversity reporting. One of the explicit commitments a company makes by joining UNGC is to produce an annual Communication on Progress (COP). As of May 2009, there are over 200 participants from Hong Kong & China at the UNGC. In the past 4 years, there have been 53 COPs by these organizations reporting on human rights, labour, diversity and general governance aspects of their organizations.
Equal Opportunity Training
Products & Services Equal Opportunity Training
This series of training focuses on understanding, applying and implementing measures according to the Equal Opportunity legislation in Hong Kong, namely the four anti-discrimination ordinances: Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO), Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO), Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (FSDO) and Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO). • • • • • • • • • •
Introduction to Race Discrimination Ordinance Managing Complaints in the Workplace Introduction to EO Legislation (including RDO) Developing and Implementing an EO Policy in the Workplace Vicarious Liability Preventing and Managing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Introduction to Mediation Contact Officer Role Grievance Officer Role Understanding the complaint process of the EOC
These workshops can be delivered in two forms: (1) as standard workshops; or (2) as customized workshops for organizations. For customized workshops, an interview will be conducted with the relevant personnel in the organization with an assessment of the current EO policies and procedures, prior to the workshops.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Products & Services Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) While litigation of a discrimination claim is often costly, time-consuming and non-confidential, methods of ADR cost less time, money and more importantly the hard-earned reputation. ADR is often more effective. For these reasons, ADR is often the preferred alternative to litigation. At Diversity Factor, we have a team of experienced Accredited Mediators (appointed by Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, HKIAC) to act as a neutral third-party to resolve any discrimination claims you may face. Studies show that the chance of successful conciliation is much higher at the early stage when a claim is made. At Diversity Factor, we are committed to the following principles in handling our ADR clients so as to maximize the opportunity of successful conciliation: • • • • •
Conciliation is attempted as early as possible Complaint handling turnaround time is shortened by streamlined processes and tools Conciliation is conducted on an impartial basis Information exchange is kept to the essential minimum, unlike adversarial processes such as litigation / arbitration Core facts and evidence are substantiated before conciliation is attempted
While conciliation is totally voluntary, our experience has shown that a streamlined process, an impartial approach and a thorough knowledge of the law and expertise in conciliation often increase the chance of successful conciliation.
EO Policy Review & EqIA
Products & Services Equal Opportunity Policy Review & Equality Impact Assessment
Equal Opportunity Policy Review We can review your existing equal opportunity policy in human resources management and service delivery. Our review will take into account your policies, procedures, practices, your workforce composition and your service clients in the review. Based upon the review, we will formulate a set of recommendations for change and possible steps to align your policy and practices with existing compliance requirements as well as a continuous improvement objective based upon your long-term equality goals.
Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) An Equality Impact Assessment is a tool for identifying the potential impact of an organizationâ€™s policies, services and functions on its clients and employees. It can help an organizationâ€™s staff provide and deliver excellent services to its clients by ensuring that these reflect the needs of the community. By carrying out EqIAs, an organization may also ensure that the services it provides fulfil the requirements of equal opportunity legislation in Hong Kong.
CSR Report 2010
Products & Services Communications & Reporting Solutions
At Diversity Factor, our Communications and Reporting Solution helps organizations track and communicate their diversity performance as well as respond to discrimination allegations. While organizations spend significant funds in brand building, maintaining a good reputation is an essential component of their senior executives’ mandate. Our tools and expertise will facilitate easy tracking of diversity metrics required by international reporting standards and mechanisms such as GRI and UNGC. We provide advice to companies on how to respond to discrimination allegations, including the potentially difficult situation involving allegations deep within your supply chain. The communication strategy speaks to the consumers, civil society groups and other stakeholders. Level of transparency All of the leading reporting initiatives encourage organizations to report on diversity voluntarily. There is no rigid requirement in any of these initiatives to report on a specific aspect of an organization’s diversity measures. Diversity Factor will advise an organization to report on both positive measures and concerns that its stakeholders may have. It is a matter of balance when it comes to reporting on diversity. While it is important to report on an organization’s general EO policy, it is also important to report on whether concerns have been raised and how the organization has dealt with them. Confidentiality Diversity Factor is cognizant of the sensitivity organizations face regarding disclosure of their diversity efforts and concerns. Diversity Factor does not disclose any information about organizations’ diversity measures at any stage without the organization’s express prior approval which includes, but is not limited to: potentially non-compliant areas, complaints or grievances, products and services strategies as well as individuals’ involvement in particular instances of concern.
Capacity Building and Case Work
Products & Services Capacity Building Workshop for NGOs This workshop is aimed at the following: 1)
to build capacity for NGOs to answer inquiries and provide advice related to unlawful discrimination and harassment. to build capacity for NGOs to assist and represent victims of unlawful discrimination and harassment to provide an understanding of the current laws related to unlawful discrimination to provide an understanding of the EOC complaint handling process and the role of a Representative Complainant (RC) which the NGOs may take on
to provide an understanding related to the legal and cost impact of taking a case to the EOC and to courts
This workshop is best suited for NGOs serving clients with a potential of being discriminated against or harassed or those that are setting up or exploring the provision of advice, assistance or representation services to clients. For NGOs aiming to manage their own diversity issues in the organization, they shall enrol in workshops as detailed in the section titled “EO Training” above. Diversity Factor may provide workshops to qualified NGOs at discounted rates as a community service to the civil society.
Products & Services Individual Case Representation Diversity Factor has a wealth of combined experience of more than 15 years representing victims of unlawful discrimination and harassment at the EOC level and at litigations. We offer representation at the EOC level and at litigations at reasonable and affordable rates. Our experience and expertise in the complaint process contribute to the following in complaints represented by us: • • • • •
Detailed analysis of the case Clear formulation and/or analysis of allegations Understanding of the relevant legal provisions Advice on how and what to respond to in a complaint process The best interest of the client (individual or organization)
Running legal arguments on behalf of the client Formulation and/or assessment of appropriate remedies sought
Our aim is to resolve the matter by way of conciliation (if possible, early conciliation) at the EOC level. Conciliation has proven to be the most cost-effective resolution of discrimination and harassment claims for both the aggrieved person and the respondent(s). At Diversity Factor, we work towards reasonable, equitable, amicable and speedy resolution of claims by way of conciliation. While complaints may drag on for months and perhaps years, our aim is to expedite resolution for the individual client to effect policy change, settlement and/or financial compensation wherever appropriate.
Products & Services Access Audits
Hong Kong's Disability Discrimination Ordinance prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in the provision of access to premises that members of the public are entitled to enter. It is important that building and premises owners are aware of their legal liability to make available barrier-free access to everyone, including people with a disability. Employers also bear a responsibility to ensure that their employees with disabilities have barrier-free access to their workplace facilities. Employers have an additional liability to ensure that the facilities are not only accessible but also safe, as a matter of industrial safety. Failure to provide such access and attain such level of safety may result in complaints or even lawsuits from employees and/or clients. Access audit is both a preventive and corrective measure towards ensuring equal access. Building owners and employers should ensure that their buildings and offices are accessible to all. Considerations should be given to the needs of a variety of users with differing circumstances, including, but not limited to, vision impairment, limited mobility, wheelchair users, etc. Accessibility concerns should ideally be incorporated in the design of the building as well as during the review for existing buildingsâ€™ renovation and retrofitting needs. Access audit is important as a corrective measure when a portion of a building / premises is identified as inaccessible to certain users. An access audit is sometimes required as part of the settlement terms to remedy the situation, in the case of a complaint or lawsuit. Diversity Factor partners with a team of professional experts, including design architects, engineers and rehabilitation specialists, to advise on different aspects of accessibility. Our access audits examine a range of facilities including buildings, lifts and elevators, open space, access routes, doors, toilets, motor vehicles and car parks. It would be advisable to consider our access audit services if you are an employer with employees with disabilities, facility managers, building owners, government departments and NGOs with a facility management role. While many access audit reports recommend a range of â€˜idealâ€™ facility design / retrofitting options, our access audit approach focuses on what is practical, doable and a reasonable accommodation of premises for disabled users. We evaluate options based upon cost-benefit justifications. For example, in an access report prepared by a different consultant, it was recommended that all door leaves be replaced with lighter or automatic doors. A second-year review performed by Diversity Factor recommended instead that only those doors on the essential and emergency pathways be replaced, accompanied by clear and accessible signage giving directions using such pathways. Our access audits engage users with disabilities in the design of our test criteria and/or in the actual audit process in order to ensure both the test criteria and the recommendations are user-centric and carry real benefits to the users.
Products & Services Web Accessibility
The Web is increasingly an essential resource for many aspects of life: education, employment, government, commerce, health care, recreation, social interaction, and more. The Web is used not only for receiving information, but also for providing information and interacting with society. Therefore, it is essential that the Web be accessible in order to provide equal access and equal opportunity to everyone, including people with disabilities and elderly people. In cases where the Web is the only delivery channel of services or preferred delivery channel of information and services because any other means of delivery are significantly more timeconsuming, costly or inconvenient, it is imperative that an organization ensures its online resources are accessible to all. Failure to do so may result in complaints or litigations. While accessibility focuses on people with disabilities, it also benefits older users, mobile phone users, and other individuals, as well as organizations. Older users with age-related accessibility needs are an increasingly important customer base for most organizations, as the percentage of older users is growing significantly. Organizations with accessible websites benefit from search engine optimization (SEO), reduced legal risk, demonstration of corporate social responsibility (CSR), and increased customer loyalty. What is a Web Accessibility Audit? At Diversity Factor, we conduct a Web Accessibility Audit for a website, a portal or a set of WebPages for compliance with the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as well as Targeted Web User Test Criteria developed by Diversity Factor. The WCAG guidelines explain how to make web content accessible to people with disabilities. The guidelines are intended for all Web content developers (page authors and site designers) and for developers of authoring tools. The primary goal of these guidelines is to promote accessibility. While the WCAG are a set of generalized guidelines, we develop detailed test criteria to audit web contents and align them with the practical usage expectations in the context of Hong Kong / China. Thus we develop the Targeted Web User Test Criteria:
• • • •
to focus on the issues found in common practice of web designers in this region to address issues commonly found in multi-lingual and localization sites in this region to address practical usage needs of the disabled and elderly users in Hong Kong by drawing feedback from user focus groups to focus on frequently used contents by these user groups
The audit report will focus on findings based on compliance with the WCAG as well as with our Targeted Web User Test Criteria. It makes recommendations to organizations regarding improving accessibility of their web contents. Our recommendations take a staggered approach so that organizations may phase in improvements based on priorities reflected in our user group engagement.
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Published on Aug 20, 2009
Diversity Factor is a consultancy firm specializing in diversity management at organizations in Hong Kong which are facing a growing call fo...