equality and diversity strategy

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    Equality and Diversity Strategy and Action Plan June 2015

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    1 Foreword from our Chair and Chief Executive At Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) we want to enable positive living for people in our homes and neighbourhoods. This reflects our purpose to improve council homes and the city, helping customers to reach their potential and providing additional support when they need it. This means providing services that are accessible, inclusive and delivered fairly. Put simply, diversity at YHN is not optional; it is part of everything we do. We are proud of our achievements and that these have been recognised. In 2011 we achieved Excellence in the Social Housing Equality Framework and we remain in the Top Stonewall Workplace Equality Index. Were also responding to the equality and diversity needs of our workforce and have established four staff network groups, which are the Multi-Cultural Staff Network Group, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Staff Network Group, the Allies Staff Network Group and the Disabled Staff Network Group. This strategy looks at what we need to do next, setting out our priorities to mainstream equality and diversity within every activity undertaken by individuals and teams within YHN. It will help us meet the requirements of the Equality Act 2010, which set out our statutory duties and nine protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex, and sexual orientation. It helps us build on our achievements and go beyond legislation and advance equality of opportunity for all. 2. Purpose This strategy and the actions contained within it describe how we will meet our obligations under the Equality Act 2010. It is a public declaration of our commitment to encourage, value and manage diversity as an employer and service provider. It sets out our commitment to providing equality for all and sets out how we, at YHN, plan to meet the duties placed on us by equality and diversity legislation and to follow best practice in all that we do: including employing our staff, providing services and being engaged with our local communities here in Newcastle upon Tyne. 3. Local context Our priorities must be informed by an appreciation of the characteristics of both our customer base and the wider demographic context of the city in which we deliver our services. This enables us to compare ourselves against the population of Newcastle upon Tyne. We use census data from 2011 and the Newcastle Future Needs Assessment (NFNA) in order to establish representation against specific demographic criteria to take appropriate action to ensure that we have a representative workforce and customer population, and to more broadly understand the needs of communities within the city. Newcastle upon Tyne is home to approximately 282,500 people and the latest ONS projections suggest the population will grow steadily to around 291,800 by 2016, and to 298,700 by 2030. Analysis of recent census data for the city and the NFNA tells us

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    the following areas are most significant in terms of the representativeness of our customer population and our workforce:

    Over 80% of people in Newcastle describe themselves as White British. This compares to 79% of tenants living in the homes we manage and 92% in our workforce;

    Just over half of Newcastle residents describe themselves as Christian. This compares to 39% of tenants living in the homes we manage and 52% in our workforce;

    18.7% of Newcastle residents have a long term health problem or disability This compares to 14% of tenants living in the homes we manage and 6% in our workforce, and

    People aged 65 and over account for 14% of the Newcastle population. This compares to 26% of tenants living in the homes we manage.

    For some people with a protected characteristic, outlined earlier, there are limitations to the available data. In terms of sexual orientation it is estimated that between 13,500 and 18,900 people in living in Newcastle would feel comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation as Lesbian, Gay or Bi-sexual. This number is based on government estimates of between 5 and 7 percent of the population, which Stonewall believe is a reasonable estimate. There is no official data available on the number of transgender people living in Newcastle. 4. Commitment to Equality and Diversity We are committed to providing the best possible services and to:

    Being inclusive, accessible and fair in the way we design and deliver our services;

    Treating everyone with respect at all times;

    Creating an environment in which individual differences and the contributions of all our staff are recognised and valued and where no form of intimidation, bullying or harassment will be tolerated;

    Eliminating unlawful discrimination;

    Advancing equality of opportunity between those who share a protected characteristic and those who dont, and

    Fostering good relations between those who share a protected characteristic and those who dont.

    5. Reason for an Equality and Diversity Strategy We recognise that we operate in an increasingly diverse city and that we need to be able to respond appropriately and sensitively. A new equality and diversity strategy will help to ensure that customers and staff are valued, motivated and treated fairly. We also believe that the implementation of this strategy supports us to make the most of our resources and deliver value for money. We use our equality and diversity cycle which covers the way we deliver services and operate as an employer and we need to ensure that we work within this and avoid discrimination.

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    6. Public Sector Duties included in the Equality and Diversity Strategy 6.1 Scope of the Strategy As a public body we are required to meet certain statutory duties as set out in the Equality Act 2010. The purpose of the statutory duty is to assist public bodies to tackle persistent and long standing issues of disadvantage. In line with the Act we are committed to:

    Eliminating unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation;

    Advancing equality of opportunity between different groups, and

    Fostering good relationships between different groups.

    We publish information demonstrating our compliance twice a year and we use the Social Housing Equality Framework as the mechanism for monitoring progress in equality and diversity.

    Under the Act we are required to publish equality objectives at least every four years. Our new equality objectives were developed following consultation and were agreed by our Board in November 2014. These are:

    1. A modern and diverse workforce and an organisational culture that values and cultivates diversity;

    2. Know who our customers are and provide responsive, flexible services 3. Remain in touch with our staff and customers by listening to and learning from

    them;

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    4. Embed equality and diversity across YHN, promote understanding and the added value this brings to the organisation; and

    5. Better use of our influence and profile to make a positive difference.

    These objectives will enable us to focus on outcomes, measuring and reporting on the impact of our work.

    6.2 Equality Analysis

    To demonstrate due regard for equality, we conduct an Equality Analysis on all new and reviewed strategies and policies. This helps us to identify and remove discrimination and to identify ways to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people. Where an Equality Analysis identifies a potential improvement, positive changes will be made. Our policy and guidance on Equality Analysis are published on the Equality and Diversity intranet site.

    6.3 Responsibility for the Equality and Diversity Strategy and Action Plan

    Our Chief Executive and Chair have ultimate responsibility for the implementation of this strategy and ensuring that the actions set out in this strategy are carried out;

    Head of Business Strategy has responsibility for the implementation and monitoring of the action plan;

    Heads of Service and all Managers are responsible for ensuring that this strategy is implemented and maintained within their own services and teams, they will be held to account through quarterly Service Health Checks conducted by our Management Team. They will ensure that all staff are fully informed about their responsibilities and receive the right training and support in carrying them out; taking appropriate action where the standards which we have set are not met; and

    All staff have a responsibility to ensure that their actions comply with the requirements of this strategy, namely to eliminate unlawful discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and promote good relations between people of different groups.

    6.4 Consultation and Involvement

    In developing this strategy we have used:

    Tenant feedback from the Survey of Tenants and Residents (STAR);

    Current information about staff;

    Current information about customers and their take up of our services;

    Information from consultation with staff and customers carried out during the last year including with trade unions and Staff Network Groups;

    Feedback from Finance and Resources Committee; and

    Information from a series of Know your Customers impact assessment workshops carried out with all our services.

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    7. Monitoring and review This strategy will be reviewed in line with the establishment of the new Management Agreement with Newcastle City Council in 2016. The action plan will be reviewed and updated more frequently to ensure we are on target and

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