Home / Resources / What are the 9 Protected Characteristics?

What are the 9 Protected Characteristics?


“If people are informed they will do the right thing.  It’s when they are not informed that they become hostages to prejudice.”
Charlayne Hunter-Gault


Employee tribunal claims can be both costly and detrimental to an organisation’s reputation.  The maximum award in the financial year 2014/15 was for a sex discrimination case with £557,039 being awarded to the claimant.  Cases such as this illustrate not only the personal trauma discrimination causes but also the financial implications which may result.  The importance placed on all employees, in particular those with team  leader and management responsibilities, having an awareness of equality and diversity matters cannot be stressed highly enough.


Equality and Diversity – What does it mean?

Equality is about treating people fairly and providing equal access to jobs, opportunities, benefits and services.
Diversity is about difference and the wide range of differences which exist between us.  It’s about understanding that each individual is unique and the need to recognise, respect, embrace and value those individual differences.


What considerations are required in the workplace?

In 2010, the Equality Act was introduced which all employers have to be aware of, and comply with.  However, managers and employees also need to understand their role in ensuring equality and dignity inside and outside the workplace as a lesser known fact is that they can be held personally liable for their own discriminatory acts.  Their role in ensuring equality and dignity at work is therefore paramount.  Training in Equality and Diversity is necessary to ensure that everyone in the workplace is aware that their language and behaviour should be based on dignity and respect for every individual and ensure that they are not demeaning on any grounds, including the 9 protected characteristics.


What are the 9 Protected characteristics?

The 9 protected characteristics are defined in the Equality Act 2010, which states that individuals and groups should not be discriminated against on the basis of these characteristics. The Equality  Act protects everyone from discrimination as we all have some of these characteristics.

They are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage or Civil Partnership
  • Pregnancy and Maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or Belief (including lack of belief)
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation
It is also possible for cases to arise because of discrimination by association or perception.  This means that an individual doesn’t have to have a protected characteristic to be protected, but is treated less favourably because of their close connection or strong association with someone who has a protected characteristic (e.g. a family member), or because someone thinks they have a protected characteristic, but they don’t.


How can In Equilibrium help?

In Equilibrium’s course “Equality, Diversity and Inclusion” is suitable for both managers and employees.  It helps to increase understanding, raise awareness and build confidence about diversity issues in the workplace as two recent participants’ comments illustrate,

“It was a very eye-opening course and made me realise how many things go on that I haven’t noticed before”
“Nervousness transformed into confidence”

For an informal discussion about your Equality and Diversity training requirements, please click on the red box below and enter your details:

Ask for further details here


Our thanks to Eve Winston for her help with this blog article.

Recent articles on our blog....

Autumn 2023 Newsletter includes tips for Stress Awareness Week

November 1, 2023

For Stress Awareness Week, the autumn edition of our quarterly wellbeing at work newsletter includes stress management tips and resources.

Read More →
Two anonymous co-workers sitting outside talking, one holding a coffee cup and the other the stump filter of a coffee machine.

Communication at work – be aware of the pitfalls of co-rumination

November 1, 2023

We offer 5 tips for helping to develop healthy interactions at work in order to increase wellbeing and avoid co-rumination.

Read More →
Close up photo of a person holding the top item from a pile of paper-clipped paperwork

Some resources to help health, wellbeing and inclusion at work

November 1, 2023

Included in our latest pick of external resources are details of a new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the workplace code of practice and a guide on recruiting neurodiverse candidates.

Read More →



Our purpose is to provide training and consultancy services to enhance resilience, health and wellbeing in the workplace.


Differentiation is one of the most strategic and tactical activities in which companies most constantly engage


It's natural to have questions about training and how it fits with your organisation. Our FAQs can help you find out more.


View case studies for some of the in-house training courses we have delivered to different types of organisations across the UK.