Action Strategy for Integrated Workplaces / Workplace Diversity Initiative



The Action Strategy for Integrated Workplaces was launched by the then Minister for Integration, Mr Conor Lenihan T.D., on 12 October 2008. The Office of the Minister for Integration provided €120,000 for the initiative in 2008 (€60,000 on 10 July 2008 and €60,000 on 24 November 2008).

The initiative was renamed the Workplace Diversity Initiative in 2009. The Office of the Minister for Integration provided €70,000 for the Workplace Diversity Initiative in December 2009 to fund its programme of activity for 2010. The Office of the Minister for Integration provided a final €70,000 in 2010 to enable activities funded under the Workplace Diversity Initiative to continue into 2011 and 2012.

Employers’ Strand


IBEC received €80,000 to undertake a series of actions in 2008-2009.

In the action strategy, IBEC’s commitment to the project was to establish a support system for companies to integrate diversity successfully into their workplaces. This was achieved through a number of systems and initiatives rolled out and undertaken by the diversity project officer:

The help-desk went live in November 2008 and answered queries and issues arising from employers in the area of diversity. The help-desk was promoted through IBEC publications and at various diversity networks and events. Topics raised by employers included the business case for diversity; developing diversity policies and strategies; and reintegrat ing an employee with a disability into the workforce.

Dissemination of information on the business case for diversity
Various initiatives were undertaken to communicate and promote the business case for diversity. These included a business case article which was circulated to employers as part of IBEC’s Databank publication (May 2009); a diversity newsletter which promoted the value of diversity and a chapter in the IBEC’s (link to description here).

Networking opportunities for employers
8 networking events took place across Ireland in 2009, 4 in May/June and 4 in October/November. Each diversity event focused on providing key information, generating enthusiasm about diversity and inclusion, equipping delegates with skills to implement actions in their own workplaces, while also allowing for peer to peer shared learning to elicit best practice. In total 204 delegates participated in these events from a mixture of large, small, public and private sector organisations.

Development of a model and methodology for monitoring and measurement
A model and methodology was researched with various organisations. It examines how organisations profile and measure equality and diversity. This framework is presented in the Essential guide to diversity.

Development and dissemination of good practice examples of the integrated workplace
The good practice equality and diversity strategies were documented and incorporated into a best practice guide on diversity management called the Essential guide to diversity. Consultation was carried out with organisations with experience in dealing with a diverse customer base to identify good practice and potential gaps which could be addressed through the guidelines. The guide addresses key topics such as: the business case for diversity; how to create and maintain an integrated workplace; the customer perspective; monitoring, measurement and benchmarks. It also includes best practice case studies featuring Dell, IBM, the Rotunda Hospital, Medtronic and the ESB.

Construction Industry Federation

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) was awarded €20,000 to undertake tailored training for its member companies on managing workplace diversity. It was intended that the training would reflect the specific needs of the construction sector.

However, because of the downturn in the construction sector, it was not possible for the CIF to complete this action. The CIF provided diversity awareness training for its members at a cost of €10,000. The remaining allocation (of €10,000) was not drawn down or used by CIF.

CIF used the €10,000 allocation to develop a specific module on Integrated Workplaces for its Site Management Induction training, Industry and Management, and Managing People training courses. The module was delivered on
  • 26 February 2009,
  • 23 March 2009,
  • 17 June 2009,
  • 30 September 2009,
  • 14 October 2009 and
  • 17 October 2009.
The Integrated Workplaces module became a permanent module in the above-mentioned training courses and continued to be delivered on an ongoing basis.



IBEC received €34,500 in 2010. The funding was used to undertake the following tasks:

IBEC continued to maintain a help-desk to respond to specific queries from employers. Topics raised by employers included diversity training, the business case for diversity, developing diversity policies and strategies, diversity benchmarks, the wearing of scarves and health and safety and Ramadan.

Networking events for employers
The IBEC Diversity Forum met 4 times in 2010. The Forum includes 25 organisations that have engaged a diverse workforce and are using best practice methods to integrate that workforce.

IBEC held 3 external networking events in Cork, Limerick and Dublin (the latter on 18 November 2010) to disseminate the message that integrated workplaces bring benefits in terms of equality and business success. Professor Patrick Flood of DCU gave the keynote address at each event. He gave presentations on his research entitled ‘Beyond high performance work systems: the impact of including diversity and equality management on firm performance’. This research makes the conclusive case that the management of diversity and the compliance with equality legislation leads to improved business performance. The target audience was HR and diversity professionals. 105 delegates participated from a mixture of large and small public and private sector organisations.

IBEC developed a Diversity News e-bulletin which was disseminated regularly to companies and communicated news and good practice on diversity to them.



IBEC received €31,000 to undertake the following actions in 2011.

IBEC continued to operate the help-desk for employers throughout 2011 which was considered by employers to be very successful. Topics included requests for diversity awareness training, the business case for diversity, how to set up an employee network or resource group and diversity and equality data.

Diversity Awareness Workshop
In response to demand from employers for a diversity training course, IBEC developed a diversity awareness workshop. Employers wished to have training on good practice that went beyond the focus on the equality legislation.

IBEC did desk research to see what was available in the marketplace and on equality and diversity statistics and content. It accessed trainers’ materials to identify useful activities to include in the workshop as well as video clips and company DVDs to illustrate diversity at work. IBEC developed the diversity awareness workshop as a 120 minute workshop aimed at general staff level. The workshop was developed generically to be customised by individual companies (i.e. enabling them to add more
on the business case for diversity or to focus more on particular staff categories).

IBEC piloted the Diversity Awareness Workshop in Dublin on 16 November 2011 at the IBEC offices and in Cork on 24 November 2011 at the Radisson Hotel. These events were promoted by a direct mail invitation sent to HR managers, directors, and diversity / equality practitioners in IBEC’s member employer database. IBEC also promoted the events at a range of HR and diversity fora.

The purpose of the pilot events was to bring employers through the workshop, to explain how it could be used and to get feedback on what worked or what needed to be improved. There was a significant amount of interest among employers about having a workshop template available for their use. 27 employers booked places for the Dublin workshop and 15 employers for the Cork workshop. Attendees spanned small, medium and large employers, private sector, public sector and NGOs. They range from financial services, ICT, manufacturing, health, hospitality, to education and pharmachemical sectors.

IBEC published 3 diversity e-newsletters for members. The content was drawn from topical equality or diversity issues raised in the media, from reviews of equality or diversity events, summaries of new diversity reports or new tools or policies relevant to employers.

Trades Union Strand



Congress received €40,000 to provide supports to enable trade unions and their members to contribute to the development and implementation of integrated workplaces. Congress developed two separate aspects to the project:

Congress developed a 5-day training programme for its members on equality and diversity. The training took place on 15 January 2009, 22 January 2009, 29 January 2009, 5 February 2009 and 12 February 2009. 18 trade union activists took part in the training. The topics covered included:
  • Equality through Diversity: theoretical framework;
  • Promoting equality through trades unions and supporting an employee to take a case;
  • Equality competence in the workplace;
  • Cultural diversity and the integrated workplace;
  • Developing strategies to enhance integrated workplaces.

Maria Hegarty of Equality Strategies facilitated the training programme. Training was provided by the Equality Authority and Congress, with input from Mary Hogan of the IMI Bizlab project. The training cost €4,600.

As part of the training, participants were encouraged to develop an integrated
workplace action plan and to apply for the challenge funds provided.

Challenge Funds
Challenge funds were set up and union activists were urged to apply for funding to draw up an integrated workplace action plan for their own union. 5 challenge funds were awarded (to a maximum of €8,000):
  • CWU provided training to 27 equality representatives, thus generating a better awareness of equality issues in the union and its relevant workplaces. The training pointed to the need for the union to develop dedicated structures relating to equality. The union set up an equality network for equality representatives. The network has been found to be a successful means of enabling the union to build equality competence within the union and its membership.

  • SIPTU developed an equality resource for shop stewards and trades union representatives working on equality (as there had been a lack of suitable resources for trades unions on acting as diversity champions). The resource was used to develop equality competence among trade union officials. It was disseminated through the SIPTU website.

  • ESBOA developed training for its members on equality and diversity. The training was designed to tackle the problem of poor or varying levels of awareness of equality and diversity among trade union members. The project helped to reinforce the message that equality and diversity are issues of importance to trade union members.

  • INTO did an equality audit of its training programme and identified the need for all training modules to include a module on equality. The project reshaped the INTO’s overall training approach confirming the need for training on equality competence for members and the promotion of greater equality awareness within workplaces.

  • ASTI undertook an equality audit which has supported the union to improve its equality standards. The project demonstrated that embedding equality effectively in a trade union involves changing the ethos and culture of the organisation and improving overall awareness of equality issues. The project helped the union to begin this process of becoming an equality and diversity champion.

Congress received €25,000 to undertake the following series of actions in 2010-2011:

Diversity Challenge Fund
Congress managed a Diversity Challenge Fund which funded individual trades unions to undertake actions to promote workplace diversity. Congress selected the following projects for completion under the Challenge fund:
  • IBOA received €4,000 to undertake a campaign to increase awareness of workplace diversity. The overall aim of the project was to assist in the organisation and integration of migrant workers in IBOA. Previous research found that employees with non-Irish nationalities account for 8% of the workforce in the banking and financial services sector and that there is a lower density of trade union membership amongst migrant workers in Irish banking.

  • The Dublin Mortgage Centre, Ulster Bank Ltd, was identified as a strategic location with a relatively high proportion of migrant workers and was targeted as a pilot for the purposes of a campaign of raising awareness amongst management and staff and the training of key union activists. The campaign theme of ‘Expect Respect’ covers both migrant and non-migrant workers and highlights the importance of treating workers equally. The following campaign elements were included:
      Launch of Expect Respect campaign;

      A number of circulars to members publicising the campaign;

      Recruitment and consolidation of key activists integrated into IBOA structure (including a migrant worker) and identification of training needs;

      Engagement with management in promoting the campaign and in facilitation of leave for training;

      Design and printing of information on Expect Respect e.g. a series of A3 and A4 posters, A5 flyers, business/wallet cards;

      Design of Valuing Diversity Self-Assessment Worksheet;

      Delivery of the two day training course for key activists;

      Design of Expect Respect Manifesto

      Design of a two day training course with four modules

             Module 1 – Introduction to Active Learning, Understanding Diversity, Overcoming Stereotypes;
             Module 2 – How to identify and deal with equality and diversity issues, A model for better listening, Challenging Speakers: Listening when you would rather not;
             Module 3 – Confronting Bullying in the Workplace, Customer and Telephone Conflict Management and Resolution;
             Module 4 – Working effectively with your Union, Practicalities and Tips, Action Planning.
    The Expect Respect campaign is ongoing in Ulster Bank and may be extended to other locations and other employers. All of the Expect Respect campaign printed materials are generic and thus transferable to any employment in which IBOA has members. The training course was extremely successful and is available to be delivered in flexible format for union/dignity representatives e.g. as one half-day module or up to four half day modules, with some adaptation of training materials.

  • SIPTU received €4,625 to develop a series of modules incorporating leadership development, communication and an introduction to trade union structures. Materials were developed in 3 languages: English, Polish and Portuguese to reflect the sectors targeted: Brazilian and Polish workers in the meat processing and retail sector in Cork. A similar exercise was later carried out by SIPTU in Tullamore. Communication and organising structures have since been developed to facilitate workers in their further integration into the union.

  • Communications Workers' Union received €2,500 to organise a seminar which was held in May 2011 to raise awareness around race equality. The seminar had the following aims:

    To identify work related issues for ethnic minority workers and how the trade union movement can be of assistance;

    To explain why diversity and equality is a trade union issue;

    To understand your equality rights in the workplace;

    To establish some action points to support minority ethnic members at work.

  • The INMO received €3,000 on a project to provide information for immigrant nurses. The project, directed by the Social Policy Committee of the INMO, focused firstly on project methodology and research approaches to information provision for immigrant nurses in other countries.

  • A focus group then took place at the end of March 2011 facilitated by Linda McLoughlin of LeadershipWorks. Those who participated had all experienced similar challenges on arrival in Ireland with regard to orientation in the Irish health service workplace. The focus group highlighted the need for practical information on housing, cost of living, church services, and on upfront cash requirements. It pointed to the importance of peer orientation and mentoring. It highlighted the usefulness of websites. In light of the focus group findings, the Committee decided to focus on developing a special section on the INMO website to provide information for nurses considering coming to Ireland and for those who are newly arrived. The information produced for the website was based on structured interviews with immigrant nurses.

Migrant Worker Strategy
Congress used the balance of funding to commission Siobhan Phillips to produce a background paper to inform a migrant worker strategy. A consultation process was undertaken with trades unions and NGOs. Ms Phillips produced Towards a Strategy for the Inclusion of Migrant Workers in Trades Unions. This resource looks at issues facing migrant workers in Irish workplaces and highlights good practice by trades unions in integrating migrant workers into their structures. It identifies a series of recommendations for the trade union movement in developing a strategic approach to integrating migrant workers.

Congress received €20,066 to undertake the following series of actions in 2011-2012.

Launch of Migrant Worker Strategy
Congress spent €2,140 on the launch of its resource, Towards a Strategy for the Integration of Migrant Workers in Trades Unions, on 12 October 2011. The guide was launched by Ms Kathleen Lynch T.D., Minister for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People. This resource sets out good practice examples of trade union engagement with migrant workers with a view to developing learning for the integration of migrant workers into trade unions.

Diversity Challenge Fund
Congress then launched and managed the 'Diversity Challenge Fund' for trade unions to undertake specific actions in support of workplace diversity. 4 Challenge Funds were awarded in 2011.
  • SIPTU received €4,000 for a project to support workplace equality in an ethnically diverse contract cleaning sector. The project helped to support the active participation of migrant workers in SIPTU's Fair Deal for Cleaners Campaign. The Campaign seeks to ensure fair working conditions for contract cleaners.

  • The TEEU received €5,000 to develop a new guide: Equality and Diversity - a Guide for TEEU Workplace Representatives. The guide was launched on 1 May 2012 by Ms Kathleen Lynch, TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People. Minister Lynch spoke about the importance of such practical tools for combating discrimination in workplaces. The guide outlines what trade unions can do to promote integration and to tackle racism in the workplace. It also outlines how to develop workplace equality policies and how to take equality cases.

  • The PSEU received €5,000 to undertake a survey to indicate the extent to which civil service departments have undertaken training programmes dealing with anti-racism and intercultural issues. Among the findings were: 61% did not know if their employer had an equality policy with a specific anti-racism component; 68% reported that their employer's policy was not very well known; 4.5% witnessed a colleague being the subject of racism in the past year; 26% witnessed racist remarks by colleagues about clients/customers; 20% reported having been offered training dealing with antiracism/ intercultural issues.

  • A follow-up project is currently being developed between the PSEU and the Equality Authority aimed at equipping PSEU branch officials to act as champions of integration in their workplaces.

  • UNITE received €3,926 for a project to promote Dignity & Respect at Work among members employed in ABP Meats. A course was delivered in Tipperary in April 2012 to workers from varying ethnic backgrounds. Course materials were made available in different languages and covered subjects such as: Dignity & Respect at Work, Defining Discrimination, Challenging Bullying & Harassment and Equality & the Law. The training has equipped participants with the skills to promote equality and integration in their workplace.

Business Strand


Chambers Ireland

Chambers Ireland received €3,500 in 2010. Chambers Ireland ran a seminar on best practice in workplace diversity entitled ‘Opportunities in an Inclusive Workforce’ which took place in Dublin on 15 December 2010. The seminar had two aims: first, to promote the benefits to business of diversity in the workplace and to highlight examples of best practice, and second, to provoke some debate on the issue between a variety of stakeholders. The speakers invited to contribute to the seminar were selected because of their experience in dealing with the interface of diversity issues and commerce. The event was hosted by An Post at their headquarters in the GPO (An Post’s ‘LEADERS Project’, a project focusing on immigrants taking a lead in the Irish business community, won a Chambers Ireland Corporate Social Responsibility Award in 2010). The seminar was chaired by John Cunningham, Chairman of the Immigrant Council of Ireland.

Contributions were made by representatives from companies considered to be leading exponents of best practice in workplace diversity such as Dublin Bus and Accenture. Practical advice on implementing a diversity policy was provided by Peninsula Business Services, HR consultants. Dr. Ronit Lentin of Trinity College (who had worked with An Post on the LEADERS Project) spoke of some of the challenges for conventional diversity programmes in businesses.

Ennis Chamber

Ennis Chamber received €3,000 to organise a seminar entitled ‘Unity in Diversity in the Workplace – Integration Benefits for Business’ which took place on 23 November 2010 at the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis, County Clare.

The seminar consisted of a number of expert speakers in the area of diversity and integration in the workplace including William Cahir, a solicitor and Kieran McDermott of McDonald’s. The content covered the benefits for businesses in incorporating and implementing a proactive diversity and integration programme within their organisation. It looked at the benefits for business of focusing on diversity. The aim of the seminar was to encourage businesses to develop diversity and integration programmes for their own companies. The event was advertised in the local media (Clare People / Clare Advertiser).

Limerick Chamber</p>]
Limerick Chamber was awarded funding of €3,500 to organise a seminar entitled 'Recognising the Benefits & Challenges of a Diverse Workforce' on 24 November 2010 in Limerick. Speakers were drawn from business consultancy, migrant NGO, migrant business network and local businesses. Speakers included Tony Kerins of Peninsula Business Services, Helen O'Grady and Rabiya Ali of Doras Luimní - a support organisation for migrant communities in Limerick, Kieran McDermott of McDonald's and Tim Madden of the Irish Polish & Cultural Business Association.

The event provided an opportunity to make the case for the benefits for business of championing workplace diversity. The event provided an opportunity for Chamber members to network with speakers and to gain some of their insights into good practice on managing workplace diversity.

30 people attended the seminar drawn from the business sector, SMEs and the hospitality industry. The seminar was promoted and featured in the local press, helping to promote broader awareness of workplace diversity, following a press release issued by Limerick Chamber (see attached link

See also the Limerick Chamber Facebook link to all the photos for the event.

The Workplace Diversity Initiative funded actions by three Chambers of Commerce (Clonmel, Wexford and Sligo) aimed at providing information to businesses at local level on the benefits of workplace diversity.

Wexford Chamber

Wexford Chamber was awarded funding of €3,000 to host a breakfast network event in Wexford on 20 September 2011 to highlight to companies the steps that they could introduce to ensure that migrants are better integrated into the workplace. Wexford Chamber also organised an evening seminar in Enniscorthy on 5 October 2011 on the topic of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and on how to realise the benefits of diversity.

Clonmel Chamber

Clonmel Chamber was awarded €3,000 to host a networking event on diversity in the workshop, on the challenges that exist and the measures that companies can take to facilitate a more diverse working environment. This event took place at the Clonmel Park Hotel in Clonmel on 22 September 2011. The guest speakers were Jimmy Ryan and Richard McQuillen, directors of Diversiton, a workplace diversity training company. Attendees were drawn from local Skillnet companies, the Tipperary Institute, Limerick Institute of Technology, ASK Solutions, HR Direct, ROCG Consulting among others. The event was covered by 3 local papers, South Tipp Today, The Premier People and the Nationalist. The event was also covered by local radio, Tipp FM interviewing Brian Cleary, the Chamber CEO on the day before the event.

Clonmel Chamber also featured articles on diversity in its newsletter in August,
September, October, November and December 2011.


Sligo Chamber received €3,000 to host a breakfast briefing on 8 March 2012 for businesses in the area to highlight the benefits of workplace diversity. Speakers included Miriam Guinane of Purdy FitzGerald Solicitors with expertise in the area of employment law and Caroline McClafferty, HR Manager with Abbott, the pharmaceutical company, who outlined how Abbott embraces diversity. Cathal Kelly, Development Officer at the Equality Authority, highlighted practical tools to support inclusive workplaces. Sligo Chamber issued a press release detailing the overall initiative before the event. A press release and photographs were issued after the event which were picked up by the Sligo Champion on 28 March 2012. The event was also advertised on Sligo Chamber’s website.

Sectoral Strand


The sectoral strand was the new strand in 2011. The level of interest in this strand was lower than anticipated. As a result, the strand had to be advertised twice in 2011 which delayed initiation of the projects. Funding was awarded for 2 projects.

IUA Equality Network

The Irish University Association Equality Network received €4,000 to organise a launch and networking event for its Living Equality and Diversity (LEAD) e-learning programme. LEAD is an e-learning programme which aims to raise awareness of university staff of the key equality and diversity issues that arise in a university context. The launch event was held at the Davenport Hotel, Dublin on 21 March 2012. 63 people attended the launch event.

LEAD was launched by Mr Fergus O’Dowd T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, with responsibility for the NewEra Project. Other speakers included Ms Renee Dempsey, CEO, Equality Authority, Marie Connolly, Learning, Development and Equal Opportunities Manager, University of Limerick and Paul Smith, Equality Director, DCU.

The launch was organized as an interactive session in which attendees would have the opportunity to try the LEAD programme and to participate in a group activity. For this purpose, PC terminals were installed on each of the round tables to enable participants to engage with the LEAD programme first-hand and to take part in a quiz activity.

The following materials were produced for the launch:
      • A CD version of the LEAD programme for participants;
      • An information brochure;
      • 2 free-standing LEAD banners.
      The launch featured in the following news items:
      • Trinity College Dublin press release;
      • IITD Training and Development newsletter.

Limerick Chamber

Limerick Chamber received €4,000 to organise a seminar for business on diversity, in cooperation with Doras Luimní. ‘Practical Tools to Ensure Inclusive Employment Practices’ took place at the Carlton Castletroy Park Hotel on 22 February 2012. There were 3 guest speakers; Karen McHugh, CEO, Doras Luimní, Deirdre Toomey, Development Officer at the Equality Authority and Claire O’Driscoll, Peninsula Business Services, and Barrister at Law.

Karen McHugh presented a case study based on ‘Experiences of Implementing Inclusive Employment Practices in a Local Workplace’. Deirdre Toomey focused on how practical equality tools can support inclusive employment practices. This included what the law requires, some tips to help organisations to assess how they are performing on equality and some templates to support organisations to implement equality policies and practices. She also highlighted the business case for equality and some of the challenges for equality which have implications for inclusion in the workplace. Claire O’Driscoll discussed Safety & Equality in the Workplace. 25 people attended the seminar and were drawn from the business sector (hospitality, management, IT, recruitment). The seminar was promoted by Limerick Chamber on its website, on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Limerick Chamber also issued a press release about the event website:
Header: Practical Tools to Ensure Inclusive Employment Practices 24-02-2012


The funding received from the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration, formerly the Office of the Minister for Integration, enabled the Equality Authority to operate the Workplace Diversity Initiative from 2008 until 2012. The Workplace Diversity Initiative stimulated a series of initiatives on workplace diversity by a range of employers, trade unions and local business networks. It developed skills within employer and business organisations to enable them to manage workplace diversity more effectively and to become aware of the benefits of workplace diversity. It also developed equality competence within the trade union movement, equipping trade union officials with the skills to act as equality champions.

Total Expenditure
Total OMI / OPMI Contribution

Equality Authority
8 February 2013

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