That was(n’t) funny!
All trainers must be excellent communicators and be able to generate an affinity with the Learners that is conducive to training. Generating an informal atmosphere encourages discussions which is often initiated with humour and anecdotal stories.
We recently received a complaint about a trainer whose ‘humour’ contained sexist and raciest remarks. Whether people found it entertaining or not, it is not acceptable.
The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. It is not just about employing people but has wider issues.
The Equality Act covers nine protected characteristics: Age, Disability, Gender reassignment, Marriage and civil partnership, Pregnancy and maternity, Race, Religion or belief, Sex and Sexual orientation. These are covered by four main types of discrimination: Direct discrimination, Indirect discrimination, Harassment and Victimisation. Incidentally, it covers situations where you don’t have to have a protected characteristic to fall within the scope of the Act.
There is an excellent document that can be downloaded at http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/d/8/Equality-and-discrimination-understand-the-basics.pdf
Even if you know the Equality Act, it’s always good to refresh your knowledge.
There are areas that the Equality Act misses, for example short or obese people. However, the trainer should be aware that although the cohort may not even exhibit any such characteristics it could still offend. Likewise joking about death. We had one Trainer whose partner had recently died (cardiac arrest) who became tearful when demonstrating CPR on a manikin. We allowed her to use a separate trainer when teaching this section. Anyone who has taught Child Protection would know that it is highly possible that a Learner my well have experienced abuse personally and invoke an emotional response.
Effective communications is about understanding the diversity of your audience and being aware of potentially sensitive and politically correct issues. So if it is not a mandatory part of the qualification, avoid it.