EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY POLICY
Age UK South Gloucestershire (AUKSG) is committed to valuing diversity, tackling inequalities and promoting equality for all older people. We support and uphold the principles enshrined in the Equality Act 2010, Human Rights Act 1998 and the Employment Act 2002. We are committed to eliminating unlawful discrimination and to promoting equality and diversity within our policies, practices and procedures. AUKSG opposes oppressive and discriminatory practices which affect people’s legal rights and social welfare.
We are also committed to promoting and achieving equality and diversity within the organisation. This applies to our dealings with clients, service users, staff, volunteers, board members, and third parties.
Prejudice, ignorance, apathy and fear lead to discrimination. Discrimination denies our human dignity, our freedom to be ourselves and our place in a free society.
AUKSG is committed to the welfare of older people and to maintaining their individual dignity and their worth to society. AUKSG is committed, therefore, to a policy of equal opportunity.
AUKSG will not accept any form of discrimination in its work with and for older people. In particular, it will ensure that no one connected to the organisation will receive less favourable treatment on the grounds of any of the ‘Protected Characteristics’ defined in the Equality Act 2010:
• Gender reassignment
• Marriage and Civil Partnership
• Pregnancy and maternity
• Race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins)
• Religion or belief
• Sexual orientation
In addition, in consideration of our target group, we add ‘caring responsibility’ to these criteria. AUKSG demonstrates its commitment to this policy by adopting a Code of Practice and a set of targets. The code gives guidance on employment practices, service provision and the general work of the organisation in our community.
Why we have a policy
The implementation of our Equality and Diversity Policy is intended to eradicate any practice which might, through discrimination, prevent a person from obtaining or maintaining a job with AUKSG, from taking part in its activities or benefiting from its services.
AUKSG is committed to doing something practical and visible about equality of opportunity. This is why responsibility for implementing the policy rests first with the Board of Trustees, who have delegated day-to-day responsibility to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). All members of the Board, the staff and the volunteers will be expected to play their part in ensuring that the policy is adhered to in their appropriate areas of responsibility and influence.
We have set ourselves these targets:
a) To increase awareness within the organisation of the needs of minority groups.
b) To examine our premises and equipment and to make those adaptations we can to make them more accessible to staff, volunteers and users of our services.
c) To examine our services and activities to ensure that they reflect the needs of people facing disadvantage.
d) To seek the views of clients through an annual Client Feedback Questionnaire.
e) To endeavour to ensure that no member of staff, volunteer, trustee, or users of our services experiences discrimination during their contact with the organisation
Trustees, staff and volunteers will be made aware of this policy and its requirements,and its availability will be publicised to service users. If, at any stage in the future, the organisation is requested or required to recognise a trade union formally, the relevant union representative(s) will also receive full details.
Benefits of Diversity
Charities derive direct benefits from implementing diversity programs within their organisations. Some of the advantages of ensuring diversity in the workplace include capturing a greater consumer market, employing a qualified workforce, reducing employee turnover and developing a more innovative workplace. A diverse workforce also leads to an increase in creativity because individuals from different backgrounds approach problem-solving in a different way.
Advantages of Equality
The advantages of promoting equality in the workplace include creating an environment with high employee morale, developing a good reputation and the ability to recruit top talent. Another advantage of equality in the workplace is that the effectiveness of employees is measured by their contributions, which may motivate them to contribute to the charity in a positive way openly. In contrast, if a charity uses discriminatory practices to decide who is promoted, employees who do not benefit from those practices likely become discouraged and unmotivated.
Equality Code of Practice
PROVISION OF SERVICE
AUKSG recognises that its current services do not meet all and do not reach all sections of the community of older people.
All the provisions and statements of intent contained in this code of practice that are relevant will also apply to the way in which the organisation offers a service to older people and invites them to share in its life and activities.
PARTICULAR ATTENTION WILL BE PAID TO:
• Building relationships with disadvantaged groups of people so that they become more aware of what our organisation is able to offer in support, resources and involvement.
• Responding flexibly and imaginatively to requests for services, some of which may have to be different or separate from those currently provided.
• Active participation in the activities of disadvantaged groups of people, where appropriate, so that our organisation can build greater understanding of the needs of these groups of people and the individual members of these groups.
• Access to the facilities in all the buildings our organisation uses, with a view to seeking improvements where possible.
• Users of our services and those who take part in our activities will be informed that our organisation is committed to a policy of equal opportunity, so that:
o Users will know that the policy exists and that it is designed to help them and those who work for them;
o Users will know that they are invited to share the same commitment and are expected to be bound by the same Code of Practice;
o All who come into contact with our organisation will know of the standards we are trying to achieve, will be able to help us to achieve them and will know they have the right to complain if the standards slip or the policy is ignored.
AGEAUKSG will not accept discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age. This commitment needs one qualification in regard to the provision of services:
• Our organisation is governed by its charity constitution, which identifies the target beneficiaries as ‘older people’. There will therefore be limits to the services it can offer to people under the age of 50.
The terms and conditions of employment of the organisation will not enforce a date of retirement. We will endeavour to offer opportunities for employees to work, by mutual agreement, as long as employees are able and they so wish.
RECRUITMENT AND SELECTION
AUKSG will ensure that the ways in which jobs are designed, advertised and filled fulfil the requirements of our policy on equal opportunity. Training and resources will be provided to enable job descriptions and person specifications to be written and interviewing to be carried out in accordance with this policy. In particular:
• All job descriptions will be checked to ensure that they do not ask for unnecessary requirements or qualifications.
• All job adverts will include a statement confirming the organisation’s commitment to Equality of Opportunity and encouraging people from all communities to apply.
• If it is judged, after enquiry, that some groups of people are under-represented on the staff, those groups of people will be specifically encouraged to apply for jobs.
• All applications will then be treated strictly on merit from the stage of shortlisting. Final selection and remuneration will not be affected by any of the previously mentioned characteristics.
• The policy of the organisation on the employment of ex-offenders is that the safety of older people is paramount. Some offences, even when convictions are ‘spent’, will debar people from employment. Application forms will contain a suitable clause relating to this condition
• Reasons for not shortlisting and for decisions at final interview will be recorded for the purpose of monitoring; all application forms, with these reasons attached, will be retained for six months.
• An anonymised form designed to monitor this element of the equal opportunity policy will be requested from each job applicant, but responses will be separated before any shortlisting or recruitment takes place.
• The word ’staff’ includes volunteers engaged in the work of the organisation, in any way, except in provisions that obviously apply to paid employment.
• These principles will also apply to decisions to select, train, transfer, promote, discipline or dismiss employees, and decisions will be monitored as and when the situations arise.
TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT
AUKSG will provide resources to enable all Trustees, staff and volunteers to understand and be able to implement the Equality and Diversity Policy and the programme of action. Assistance will also be offered to:
• Allow re-entry to employment for new employees or former employees who have had a career break
• People from disadvantaged groups to enable them to progress and be promoted within the organisation if resources allow.
CONDITIONS OF SERVICE
It is a condition of service that all staff adhere to this policy, and failure to do so will lead to disciplinary action being taken.
All volunteers (inc. trustees) will be expected to abide by the provisions of this policy in their work for the organisation.Consideration will be given to revising staff terms and conditions of employment (e.g. leave arrangements, hours, partner and dependent leave) in order to bring them into line with our policy.
AUKSG takes any complaints of bullying, harassment, victimisation and unlawful discrimination by fellow employees, clients, service users, volunteers, suppliers, visitors, the public and any others in the course of the organisation’s work activities. Harassment or discrimination (generally, but specifically on the grounds of the previously stated characteristics) will be dealt with as misconduct under the organisation’s grievance and/or disciplinary procedures, and appropriate action will be taken. Particularly serious complaints could amount to gross misconduct and lead to dismissal without notice.. Harassment may involve derogatory or discriminatory remarks, ridicule, jokes, unwanted physical contact and demands for favours or physical assault. Any behaviour that is offensive to a member of staff or causes them to feel threatened or humiliated (on the grounds stated in our policy) or which undermines their work performance or job security is harassment. Any staff member who seriously or repeatedly harasses another staff member or anyone else connected with the organisation will be liable to dismissal for gross misconduct. Similarly, any Board member or volunteer found, after investigation, to have breached the rules of this code of practice in this regard may be asked to resign. Further, sexual harassment may amount to both an employment rights matter and a criminal matter, such as in sexual assault allegations. In addition, harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 is a criminal offence, which is not limited to circumstances where harassment relates to a protected characteristic.
AUKSG will not accept discrimination on the grounds of racial or ethnic background. Racial harassment, including verbal abuse, will be opposed.
AUKSG will not accept discrimination on the grounds of gender or marital status. The organisation recognises that its employment and service practices have historically discriminated against women by, for example, ignoring childcare and other dependants’ needs, and they will be revised as necessary.
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
AUKSG will not accept discrimination against people with disabilities. Positive steps will be taken to ensure that people with disabilities are made aware of job opportunities in the organisation, of the services provided by the organisation and of the opportunities available for voluntary work. In order to meet these objectives, AUKSG will make budgetary provisions for accessibility (e.g. for British Sign Language or other interpreters) and will review and, where possible, adapt or provide suitable premises, facilities and equipment. In the case of an existing board member, staff member or volunteer becoming severely disabled such that they are unable to continue their contracted role, every effort will be made to retain or re-deploy the individual by mutual agreement.
AUKSG will not accept discrimination on the grounds of a person’s sexual orientation or declared sexual identity. The organisation regards a person’s sexual orientation as an entirely private and personal matter, which will not affect recruitment, promotion or training for staff and volunteers, nor accessibility to services or other activities for any older person needing or seeking them. Harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation will be opposed.
What is unlawful discrimination?
Direct discrimination – when someone is treated less favourably than another person because of a Protected Characteristic.Associative discrimination or discrimination by association – direct discrimination against someone because they associate with another person who possesses a Protected Characteristic.
Discrimination by perception – direct discrimination against someone because it is thought that they possess a particular Protected Characteristic even if they do not actually possess it.
Indirect discrimination - occurs where an individual’s employment is subject to an unjustified provision criterion or practice which, e.g. one sex or race or nationality or age group finds more challenging to meet, although on the face of it, the provision, criterion or practice is ‘neutral’.
Harassment – unwanted conduct related to a relevant Protected Characteristic which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual. You may complain of such offensive behaviour even if it is not directed towards you personally.
Harassment by a third party – harassment of employees by third parties such as customers or clients.
Victimisation – when an employee is treated less favourably because they have made or supported a complaint or raised a grievance about unlawful discrimination or are suspected of doing so.
RECORDING AND MONITORING
AUKSG will demonstrate its continuing commitment to the implementation of this policy by regular review and monitoring and by insisting that, where appropriate, records are kept of actions and decisions taken by Board members, staff and volunteers.
The Board of Trustees has the first and final responsibility to promote, implement and review our policy. It is also the responsibility of all staff and volunteers of the organisation to promote the policy by ensuring that:
• None of AUKSG activities or promotions reinforce or condone discriminatory practices
• Material is not displayed in connection with the organisation’s work or activities which offends against the principles of this policy
The Chief Executive Officer holds the day-to-day responsibility that the policy is implemented and, in the first instance, for dealing with grievances or taking action in disciplinary offences.
The Chief Executive Officer will prepare a report each year for the Board on how successful the policy has been. It may be necessary from time to time to invite members of the Board to form a review sub-committee so that major developments can be examined and the staff and volunteers are offered formal and maximum support.
IMPLEMENTATION, REVIEWING AND AMENDMENTS TO THE POLICY
The policy will be reviewed by the Board not less than every three years.
Amendment History: Version Date Next Review Amendment History
Approved by the Trustee Board on 26 Nov 2013
Added amendment history, rebranded and “what is unlawful discrimination” and “added the benefits of equality and diversity”
No amendments required
All references to ‘sexuality’ amended to ‘sexual orientation’
Removal of mention of contractual retirement date. Clarification of employment consequences. Inclusion of legal implications. General edits and corrections.