Are employers obliged to take positive action towards under-represented groups under the Equality Act 2010?
No, the Equality Act 2010 does not oblige employers to take positive action. Section 158 of the Equality Act 2010 allows an employer to take positive action towards people with a protected characteristic in certain circumstances. Such action could include, for example, encouraging people with a certain protected characteristic to apply for a position or providing training for a certain group, where that group is under-represented in a particular activity. However, this is not obligatory.
Section 159 of the Equality Act 2010 allows an employer that is recruiting or promoting to treat an applicant or employee with a protected characteristic more favourably in specific limited circumstances than someone who is as qualified for the position who does not have that characteristic. It is not obligatory for employers to take positive action in relation to recruitment or promotion.