The ongoing recession in the UK is not an excuse for resorting to workplace discrimination, it has been suggested.
According to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), exactly the opposite is true.
General secretary of the organisation Brendan Barber said that the country and its businesses would benefit now more than ever from "tackling inequality and unlocking the talents of everyone".
He argued that, in order to help firms to avoid discrimination, the UK's network of equality representatives should be expanded and should have their powers extended.
Mr Barber added: "Some people say that during a severe recession equality should take a back seat - that ... equality is a luxury we somehow cannot afford. But they are wrong on every count."
Recently, minister for women and equality Harriet Harman warned companies against unfairly targeting female employees for redundancies during the downturn, pointing out that to do so is unlawful.