Equality, diversity and social inclusion
Organisations are expected by national and international governments and bodies to have policies and practices which address equality and diversity effectively, and which place these matters at the heart of all decision making processes. For us, equality is about using national laws and policies alongside local commitments to protect human rights and to remove unfairness and discrimination.
In order to demonstrate proactive commitment to equality, we need to be able to:
- Understand the social, economic and environmental context in which it operates
- Forecast likely changes and challenges to any or all of the above
- Ensure we're equipped to continue to deliver on national and international equality aims and local policy drivers
In so doing, we're mindful of national and international policy and legislation, including the Equality Act 2010. This act, together with the Human Rights Act 1998 and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, forms a robust framework of protection for equality, diversity, social inclusion and human rights.
We also refer to guidance for public sector organisations, found on the Equality and Human Rights Commission website, together with national research and examples of good practice in policy development and service delivery.
Advice and support for individuals can be found on the Equality Advisory and Support Service website. This is the national helpline that sets out to advise individuals on issues relating to equality and human rights.
Equal opportunities form a core element of good policy making concerning healthy, resilient and prosperous communities. This partly recognises that greater economic activity by all groups in society contributes to and boosts the local economy, as well as aiding individual prosperity and wellbeing. A society in which everyone feels valued, and where their skills and talents are used to the full, is a productive and resourceful society. It's also about social inclusion. A society in which everyone feels they have a part to play, and in which people respect the views of other people, is a resilient and caring society.
When we talk about social inclusion, the groups we're thinking of in particular are: families and friends with caring responsibilities; people with health inequalities; households in poverty; refugees and asylum seekers; rural communities; and people considered to be vulnerable.
A key council role, endorsed by the wider community through views expressed in our ‘Big Conversation’, and supported by staff, is to ensure that the right services and support are in place for the most vulnerable. This includes groups described as having ‘protected characteristics’.
'Protected characteristics' groupings are considered along with social inclusion when considering the PSED obligations. The nine groups are, in alphabetical order:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion and belief
- Sexual orientation
As with all of our communities of place and interest, we aim to involve people in ways in which they may want to be involved, can be encouraged to do so, and are able to do so, in order to support and sustain them as resilient communities. Our focus on locality working relates directly to this aim.