The topic of diversity, equity and inclusion is growing in significance worldwide, particularly in the last couple of years due to key events and movements such as Black Lives Matter. As the impact of DE&I continues to evolve and grow, enterprise organizations should move forward with DE&I initiatives for their contingent workforces.

But before moving forward, buyers should familiarize themselves with existing employment anti-discrimination regulations. One area where this could be a challenge for buyers is in the European Union, as it comprises 27 member states where laws can be fragmented and difficult to navigate.

Despite this challenge, there are existing overarching directives that buyers can acquaint or reacquaint themselves with that could help complement their DE&I journeys.

The growing interest in DE&I. SIA’s own research indicates a growing interest among contingent workforce programs in DE&I. For example, 71% of global enterprise companies say they are using diversity suppliers as part of their initiatives, with another 26% planning to add diversity suppliers over the next two years.

Additionally, “The Future of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Contingent Workforce” report, which SIA produced in association with HireTalent and Consciously Unbiased, highlights that contingent DE&I is a priority for companies. The research surveyed leaders primarily in enterprise-level organizations in the US, Asia Pacific and Western Europe.

The 2022 study also found that 13% more organizations now perceive their contingent DE&I practices as “leading edge” than believed so in 2020.

While progress has been slow, these figures should not be overlooked, especially because DE&I could play a crucial role in the growth of any program.

While contingent workforce program managers in the EU should make every effort to ensure their program includes DE&I, they should also be able be aware of equality laws and broad-based anti-discrimination directives across EU member states. Being familiar with a country’s workplace discrimination laws goes hand in hand with the development of DE&I in any program.

Employment laws in the EU. Different companies and countries across Europe have their own anti-discrimination employment policies, but since 2000, the European Union Council has prohibited employment discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

Individually, many members of the EU also have broad protection and anti-discrimination legislation for workers.

It should be noted that while many of the laws protect employees against discrimination, many of them do not require any sort of DE&I training as this is usually left up to the companies.

Here is a list of the acts covering workplace antidiscrimination:

  • Austria. Federal Equal Treatment Act (Gleichbehandlungsgesetz, GlBG)
  • Belgium. Various statutes
  • Bulgaria. Protection Against Discrimination Act
  • Croatia. The Gender Equality Act, The Labour Act, Anti-Discrimination Act
  • Cyprus. Equal Treatment in Employment and Occupation of 2004
  • Czech Republic. The Anti-Discrimination Act
  • Denmark. Act on the Prohibition of Discrimination in the Labor Market
  • Estonia. Gender Equality Act, Equal Treatment Act
  • France. French Labour Code, Rixain Law
  • Finland. Non-Discrimination Act
  • Germany. General Act on Equal Treatment
  • Greece. Law 4443/2016
  • Hungary. On Equal Treatment and Equal Opportunities (CXXV 2003)
  • Ireland. The Employment Equality Acts 1998–2015
  • Italy. 162/2021 (The Equality Law), Equal Opportunity Code
  • Latvia. Latvian Labour Law
  • Lithuania. Law on Equal Treatment
  • Luxembourg. Law of 28 November 2006 (articles L251-1 to L254-1 of the Labour Code)
  • Malta. Employment and Industrial Relations Act, Equality for Men and Women Act
  • Netherlands. Equal Treatment Act, Dutch Civil Code
  • Poland. Act on the Promotion of Employment and Labour Market Institutions, Act on Equality
  • Portugal. Portuguese Labour Code, Law No. 60/2018, Labour Procedural Code
  • Romania. Law 202/2002 (Gender Equality Law), Labour Code
  • Slovenia. Protection against Discrimination Act
  • Slovakia. Equal Treatment Act (Act No. 365/2004)
  • Spain. Royal Legislative Decree 2/2015 (Statute of Workers)
  • Sweden. Discrimination Act (2008: 567), Equal Opportunities Act

Having all the tools at your disposal. Discrimination can occur at any moment during the hiring process, and despite the existing laws, there are still cases where discrimination arises.

For example, Adecco France made headlines last year when a Paris Court of Appeal ruled to send the firm and two of its former directors to trial over historic hiring discrimination complaints. Also in France last year, anti-racism activists telephoned multiple staffing firms posing as a construction firm that wanted to hire only European workers — more than a third of the firms reportedly agreed to help.

SOS Racisme, a national association of anti-discrimination groups, released audio recordings of some of the calls made in May 2021 to 69 Paris-region temporary employment agencies. Leadership for many of the firms involved would go on to condemn the actions and called the discrimination unacceptable.

This is why equipping CW program managers in the EU with not only knowledge of anti-discrimination laws, but also information and data necessary to implement DE&I in their programs can keep them ahead of the curve and help ensure their program is inclusive, supportive and compliant. Combining these two are essential in the journey to achieving diversity, equity and inclusion.