The Impact of Equality & Diversity
Equalities legislation – a background
Central Government believes and recognises that equality and diversity is a huge asset that should be valued and seen as a great strength. As such, all public sector bodies are expected to ensure fair treatment and remove barriers to equality of opportunity through policy and practice.
‘Government considers equality and diversity to be an essential element of the modernisation agenda for local government. This reflects a growing realisation of the benefits of a more diverse and integrated workforce, and the importance of more responsive and flexible service delivery in combating social exclusion and building strong communities.’
Equality & Diversity in Local Government in England, Department for Communities and Local Government - 2008
Current Equality Legislation
The Equality Act 2010 has bought together more than 100 pieces of equality legislation and various voluntary codes that were in place to prevent discrimination.
The Act covers:
- Sex (gender)
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage or civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
Now that the Act is in force, it is recommended that all current equalities and diversity policy, along with related documents are audited to assess compliance with the new legislation.
Equalities Impact Assessments (EIA)
The recognised way to effectively address the requirements of the aforementioned legislation and to measure if policies and practices are either being adopted and or require implementation is via an EIA.
This tool is specifically designed to assist with tackling the imbalances caused by disadvantage and discrimination; they are effective at corporate, regional, local, project, departmental, team and individual levels.
An EIA is a detailed and systematic analysis of the potential or actual cause effects of a policy or practice to ascertain whether it has a differential impact on identifiable groups of people.
General objectives of an EIA are:
- Determining how policy or practice will impact different groups, especially those who may experience inequality, discrimination, exclusion or disadvantage;
- Identifying any particular groups who may be disadvantaged and specify as to whether there are any breaches in equalities legislation;
- Identifying where groups may benefit as a result of existing and/or proposed policies and practices;
- Making decisions about current and future practices in fuller knowledge and understanding of the possible outcomes for different groups, and;
- Developing ways of monitoring and reviewing the effects of new or changing policies should they be introduced.