The Equality Act 2010: working with our LGBT+ Staff and Students in HEIs in the UKProfessor Terry Threadgold, PVC Staff and Diversity, Cardiff University Inner Worlds/Outer Worlds Conference, University of Birmingham. Thursday 10th November, 2011
Equality Act 2010 The Equality Act replaces the previous legislation for England, Scotland and Wales. The Act came into force on 1 October 2010. The Public Sector Equality Duty replaces all previous equality duties and commenced from 5th April 2011 in England and Wales. The situation in Scotland and England is different to that in Wales as is that in Northern Ireland.
The Equality Duty Consists of a general duty, with three main aims, and specific duties, designed to help public bodies, including HEIs, to meet the general duty.
The following Protected Characteristics are recognised within the equality act and covered by the equality duty Age Disability Gender reassignment Pregnancy and maternity Race – this includes ethnic or national origin, colour or nationality Religion and Belief – this includes lack of belief Sex Sexual orientation Also applies to marriage and civil partnership but only in regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination in employment.
The General Duty: Aim 1 To eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Equality Act 2010.
Some Brief DefinitionsDirect discrimination This arises where a person, on grounds of a protected characteristic, is treated less favorably than another person. Direct discrimination involves making a comparison between how other people have been, or would be, treated in the same (or ‘not materially different’) circumstances.Indirect discrimination Indirect discrimination arises when an institution does something (applies a provision, criterion or practice) which, on the face of it, appears to be neutral in terms of equality issues, but which, in terms of its impact, particularly disadvantages people with a specific protected characteristic.
Definitions Cont.Harassment Harassment is unlawful if the harasser, on grounds of a protected characteristic, engages in unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating another person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. When deciding if the conduct is harassment all the circumstances are considered and in particular the perception of the alleged victim.Victimization If someone brings proceedings, gives evidence or, in any other respect, raises equality issues in relation to a protected matter, they obtain a protection against victimization. This means that it is unlawful for an institution to treat that person less favorably than other people because they have raised that complaint of discrimination.
General Duty: Aim 2To advance equality of opportunity between people ofdifferent groups – involves: Removing or minimising disadvantages suffered due to protected characteristics. Meeting the needs of people with protected characteristics Encouraging people with protected characteristics to participate in public life or other activities where their participation is low
General Duty: Aim 3To foster good relations between people from differentgroups – this involves tackling prejudice and promotingunderstanding between different groups.
Specific Duties to deliver positive outcomes through evidence based equality objectives To develop these through engagement with the people affected by the objectives and after relevant information has been collected and analysed.
HEIs to take the general and specific duties into account when: Developing, evaluating and reviewing policies Designing, delivering and evaluating services, including education provision Commissioning and procuring services from others. NB: this involves embedding equality into all of our functions: And in relation to all of the protected characteristics.
Creating an Evidence Base Employment information: no. employed on 31 March, recruitment, leavers, training, grievance, disciplinary procedures In relation to Sex, disaggregate people employed on 31 March by job, grade, pay, contract type, working pattern. Students: admissions (including applicants and outcomes), progress (including transfers and non- completion), take-up of work placements and targeted programmes, grievances, attainment.
Engagement Includes involvement and consultation May be formal or informalInstitutions must engage with relevant groups when: Designing equality objectives Carrying out an assessment of equality data Assessing the equality impacts of policies and processes Preparing, publishing or reviewing a strategic equality plan.
Setting of Equality Objectives Must demonstrate how a HEI is furthering the general duty Should aim to achieve positive outcomes in relation to employment, education and service delivery Must consider all protected characteristics.
Publication of Strategic Equality Plans: to include A description of the HEI Its equality objectives Steps taken to achieve the objectives, timeframe and monitoring details Action plan in relation to gender pay difference Arrangements to assess the impact of policies and practices Arrangements to promote understanding and knowledge of the general duty among employees and: Ways of dealing with training needs in relation to the specific duties
Sexual Orientation (lesbian, gay and Bisexual) Sexual Orientation is protected under the Equality Act in England, Wales and Scotland. In Northern Ireland it is covered by the Northern Ireland Act (section 75) http://www.ecu.ac.uk/publications/files/psed-specific-duties-for-england-sept11.pdf/view http://www.ecu.ac.uk/publications/files/psed-specific-duties-for-wales.pdf/view http://www.ecu.ac.uk/publications/files/dyletswyddau-penodol-i-gymru-psed- wales.pdf/view http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2011/09/09134605/0 http://www.ecu.ac.uk/publications/files/anti-discrimination-law-in-ni.pdf ECU (2010) Equality Act 2010: implications for higher education institutions www.ecu.ac.uk/publications/equality-act-2010
From Policy to Practice So what does all of this look like on the ground? How do we embed and mainstream equality for our LGBT+ staff and students? What are the issues, barriers, support mechanisms?
Senior Management Support and Visibility The commitment has to be very loud and clear and very visible in supporting the entire E and D package across the university, not just the LGBT+ issues. Staff do need to be trained and supported to understand the issues and to deal with them. This means all staff from the VC to the security and manual handling staff. What are some of the issues then?
Cardiff University Student/Staffwork around LGBT+ issues in 2010- 11 Involved a student-driven survey (the students union LGBT+ network), focus groups with LGB staff and a straight group, and partnership working reporting back to the university E and D committee. LGBT+ was the students’ idea, adopted at their recommendation by the university E and D Committee as more inclusive.
Issues Straight colleagues would like to be supportive but don’t know how to be. This means we need to create more straight allies, who understand the importance of the appropriate language, and behaviours, and of not making assumptions which can cause unintended offence. Ties in with engagement, and equality impact assessment: our policies and procedures do not always use the inclusive language they should. On the staff side Maternity/Paternity/ Dependents Leave would be examples. Co-parenting and different constructions of family will be important here.
The B and T+ part of LGBT+ We are not doing enough to support this side of our student/staff identity. We need to share good practice here, and see what has worked well, but we also need to engage these communities more and get them to help steer us in the direction of greater inclusivity.
Staff/Student Issues Staff concern about coming out to students: homophobia among students and cultural and religious difference as issues. We need to make it very clear to students as well as staff that homophobia will not be tolerated. Again the question of language: ‘that’s so gay’ from secondary school – habits that we may need to challenge or at least discuss. Inclusive curriculum work providing scenarios for staff and students to work with. The student charter and Positive Space examples.
University Chaplaincy A supportive place for LGBT+ staff and students: chaplaincy membership of the LGBT+ staff and student networks. Chaplaincy support on these issues for Student residences.
Celebrating Diversity and Difference Families can take many different forms but as institutions we tend to know andrecognise just one: the heterosexual version. Cp the Stonewall Different FamiliesPoster Do we do enough in: Our Student Advisory Services? Our Student Residences? Our Day Care Centre? Our Staff Training and Development?To show that we accept, value and are ready to support and foster thisdifference?
Acknowledging what we cannot and do not speak Much of what we have to do is about ‘coming out’, not just the LGBT+ people among us, but all of us who are straight allies as well. Learning to talk openly about the issues and to be ready to challenge behaviours and ways of saying, all the time, are the first steps towards making safe places for our LGBT+ staff and students to learn and work in, places where they will feel comfortable in turn in being themselves in the workplace and the classroom and where difference will be respected. Our Positive Working Environment project at Cardiff is a great way of selling these ideas to all of our staff but we have a long way to go before we have really made the differences I am alluding to here.
The E and D Package and Commitment Investors in People Athena Swan The Concordat for Research Staff and Students The Stonewall Workplace equality Index The Student Charter The Education Strategy The Widening access strategy The Inclusive Curriculum Surveys and feedback Engagement Events, Training, visible resource invested by the institution.
The Stonewall Workplace Index This has helped a lot as an icon of visibility and a way forward towards being open and celebrating the difference. So has being a Stonewall Top 100 Employer. It is helping to build trust: and that will also help us to gather the evidence the equality act requires, and to engage in ways which will make change happen. I hope the rest of the day will explore these and many other issues and I look forward to coming back at the end of the day to report what all of you have contributed