Understanding equality and diversity in nursing practice

Nurs Stand. 2021 Feb 3;36(2):27-33. doi: 10.7748/ns.2020.e11562. Epub 2020 Dec 7.


Equality and diversity are terms that are used frequently in nursing, healthcare and workplace settings. Nurses' professional standards of practice and behaviour are underpinned by values of equality and diversity. This means that nurses must treat people as individuals, avoid making assumptions about them, recognise diversity and individual choice, and respect and uphold their dignity and human rights. This article explores what equality and diversity mean in nursing practice, the legal framework that underpins these terms, and the inequalities and discrimination that patients and staff may experience in health and social care settings. It discusses the role of organisational culture in supporting nurses to uphold the values of equality and diversity and encourages nurses to reflect on this topic to enhance their practice.

Keywords: ageism; black and minority ethnic; culture; disability; discrimination; diversity; equality; ethnicity; gender issues; inclusion; lesbian gay bisexual trans; professional; racismRosie Stenhouse.

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Human Rights
  • Humans
  • Nurses*