Public sector organisations in the UK are expected to pay due regard to their Public Sector Equality Duties. These are to:
- foster good relations between those who share a protected characteristic and those who do not;
- promote equality of opportunity between those who share a protected characteristic and those who do not;
- eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation and any other prohibited conduct stipulated in the Equality Act 2010.
Part of this involves using tools such as Equality Impact Assessments (EqIAs) to assess how organisational procedures, policies and decision-making affects equality concerns. It is up to organisations how and when they use these tools, and whether they use them at all. However, for the purposes of transparency, demonstrating good governance and engaging stakeholders, most organisations do choose to use EqIAs in one form or another. It also provides a body of evidence that they have paid due regard to their duties which may be needed should legal action be taken at any point.
What are the three core reasons for using EqIAs in the public sector?
- Demonstrate that consideration has been given to equality issues and the law in decision-making processes, procedures and outcomes.
- Providing an evidence-based audit trail which is robust and covers the special duties under the Equality Act 2010.
- Valuing the underlying driver to EqIAs – the Macpherson report of 1999. This report highlighted that entrenched public sector organisational practices, behaviours, values and processes continue to reinforce structural discrimination in society, perpetuating inequality in outcomes in health, social care, policing and other areas. One way to start to change this is for organisations to interrogate how they work and how they come to decisions against equality concerns so that equality thinking gradually gets embedded into organisational operations, values and practices. In general, organisations should have robust equality and inclusion training and awareness sessions for all employees so that the principles of EqIAs are understood, supported and realised in day-to-day work to build equitable, reflective and responsive public sector organisations.
I developed a short, original presentation about EqIA’s which can be used to inform people about why they are undertaken. I often find that diagrammatic representations gives people a clearer picture about the logic to EqIAs. There are accompanying notes to the presentation to help trainers explain the slides. If you would like to use the slides, please contact me for additional guidance.