Thursday, 25 April 2013

Equality & Diversity News: May 2013

In this issue:
  • Editorial: Where’s AL gone?
  • Caste Discrimination to be made unlawful
  • Viewed with suspicion: The human cost of Stop and Search
  • Government backs off repeal of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s General Duty
  • Tribunal case re-emphasises legal protection against discrimination based on an “association” with a disabled person
  • The menopause – the last workplace taboo?
  • ECU announces pilots of schemes to bring about systemic change to improve equality
  • EHRC guidance to help employers support staff experiencing domestic abuse 7 
  • ‘Sex and Power 2013: Who Runs Britain?’
  • Racial harassment claim by Jewish teacher over union’s Israel-Palestine policies fails
  • Has Anti-Semitism in Europe become acceptable again
  • ‘Illegal immigrant’ no more? How language changes and labels
  • Employing older workers: an employer’s guide to today’s multi-generational workforce
  • EHRC Research Reports and Reading Lists
  • Stonewall Healthcare Equality Index 2013

Editorial: Where’s AL gone?

    EQUALITY?     or     EQUITY?

I recently came across the above cartoon and I thought it was really useful as way of visualising equality in different ways. As someone who has been involved in equality and diversity issues over many years I still find it difficult sometimes to verbally explain that the word “equality” carries different meanings in different contexts and sometimes these different meaning can seem contradictory.

The first picture, for example, shows an example of what might be described as formal equality: everyone is being treated “the same” (equally) as they are all standing on the same sized box. If all the people are “the same” (in this case terms of height) this would be a good thing – it would be wrong and discriminatory if the boxes were of a different height and this resulted in some suffering a detriment as consequence.

The law calls this direct discrimination: less favourable treatment on grounds of (in this case) height. But remember “height” is not a protected characteristic under the Equality Act, so it would not be illegal! It’s just an example, to illustrate a point, right. However if the detriment was caused with reference to race, or gender or disability or sexual orientation etc., (a “protected characteristic”) then it would be illegal.

But as the children in the cartoon are different in terms of height, treating them the same (“equally”), as the cartoon illustrates, results in discrimination against the smallest! So treating people “the same” or “equally”, when people are not “the same”, can result in discrimination. The law describes this form of discrimination as indirect discrimination: a provision, criteria or practice (in this case the size of the boxes they are standing on) which applies equally to all (it’s the same size box), but puts someone (the smallest) at a particular disadvantage because of a characteristic they do not share with others (in this case smaller height).

When indirect discrimination is identified (as the cartoon does) the solution to solving or eliminating the discrimination does not lie in treating everyone the same (this has actually created the discrimination), but rather treating different people in different situations differently. In the cartoon the solution is to give different sized boxes to differently sized children to put them in the same situation to see the match (an equitable outcome!). Formal equality is thereby transformed into substantive equality or equity, where it’s the outcome that becomes important, not the process (of providing same-size boxes).

I just have one tiny gripe with the cartoon. The outcome could have been achieved not by providing different sized children with differently sized boxes, which is complicated, expensive and focuses on the individual size of each child. But rather by taking down the fence (or not building it in the first place), which is the real barrier to full equality for all! Without the fence, irrespective of size, all can now see the match. Quite a radical solution, but with the benefit of simplicity and (if it had not been built in the first place) might have saved a great deal of money! Sometimes the simple solutions are the best!!

This latter point illustrates the difference between (in the case of disability) the medical or individualised model of looking at solutions to inequality, as opposed to the societal model of inequality favoured by disabled people themselves – where the real social barriers to full participation, involvement and equality are identified and removed; or better still not created in the first place.

Amazing what a simple set of cartoons can do...

Paul Crofts

Caste Discrimination to be made unlawful

Vince Cable the Business Secretary announced on Monday April 22 2013 that the government intends to make caste discrimination unlawful by extending the definition of “race” to include it in the Equality Act 2010. This represents a bit of a volte-face for the government as it had previous argued that it did not think it was necessary to extend protection in this area. However, after successive votes in the House of Lords to extend protection to the estimated 400,000 Dalits (or “untouchables”) resident in the UK, the government has changed its mind. In March the House of Lords passed an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill to add caste to anti-discrimination laws.

Source: BBC

Viewed with suspicion: The human cost of Stop and Search

The numbers are stark — data shows that black people are stopped and searched at seven times the rate of white people. Asians are stopped at twice the rate of whites. But what do the statistics mean in terms of people's lives?
A new report, portrait series and film look at some of the personal stories behind the numbers.

StopWatch and the Open Society Justice Initiative conducted interviews with nine people from across England whose lives have been directly affected by stop and search. They are a small sample, but their stories echo those repeated day after day in the lives of ordinary people who happen to fit the stereotypes that might lead to a stop and search. To provide context for these stories, the accompanying report draws on police and survey data to provide a clear picture of how stop and search is used and the unseen toll it takes.

Source: StopWatch

Government backs off repeal of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s General Duty

Following a vote in the House of Lords on 4th March 2013 the Government announced on April 22 that it does not intend to real the EHRC general equality duty. Peers had previously voted 217-166 in support of Baroness Jane Campbell’s amendment to s57 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, opposing the government’s planned repeal of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s General Duty.

In addition to Baroness Campbell’s powerful speech a range of impassioned interventions came from all sides of the House including Baroness Thornton, Baroness Lister, Baroness Hollis, Lord Lloyd, Baroness Hussein-Ece and Lord Morris. Each pointed out the critical importance of both aspirations and values in addition to rules and enforcement in achieving the cultural change required to ensure that equality and human rights principles take root in our society.

The House of Lords had made its view clear – the General Duty should not be repealed and the Government appears to have listened (although a more cynical view may be that they would not have mustered sufficient support in the House of Commons to overturn it).

Source: Politics UK

Tribunal case re-emphasises legal protection against discrimination based on an “association” with a disabled person

The Claimant, Rachel Price has a degenerative disc disease and as a result was absent from work for some days due to back pain. Her husband has leukemia.

When her husband’s condition deteriorated, Mrs Price found it hard to concentrate at work, and was signed off for a week by her GP as having high blood pressure. When she returned to work, she was told by her employer that her employment was not working out and “if I had known about your husband’s illness I wouldn’t, no might not, have taken you on”. He then terminated her employment with immediate effect. Mrs Price brought a claim of disability discrimination.

The Tribunal pointed out that it is clear from the wording of the Equality Act that it is unlawful to discriminate “on grounds of disability – not simply or necessarily on grounds of the Claimant’s disability”. The Equality Act 2010 was intended to extend the prohibition on direct discrimination to associative discrimination and Price v Action-Tec Services Ltd t/a Associated Telecom Solutions illustrates the difference this protection makes.

This is an important case reaffirming the Equality Act provisions relating to discrimination by association.

The menopause – the last workplace taboo?

Approximately half of the UK workforce (47%) is made up of women aged 50 years or older. With around two-thirds of women aged 50 to 59 in employment, these women will be experiencing the menopause or have been through it.  The menopause is part of the aging process. It is not a medical disease and it can have a significant impact on psychological well-being, physical health, cognition and social implications on the working lives of women.

Many managers are unaware of the many physical symptoms of the menopause which might affect a woman’s well-being at work. Menopausal symptoms most likely to affect women include hot flushes (70% of women suffer from them for one year, 30% for five years and 5% – 10% for 10 to 15 years), palpitations, night sweats and sleep disturbance, fatigue, poor concentration, irritability and mood disturbance. These working women may also have to care for frail and aging parents, look after their own family, experience changes in health and changes in their relationships.

The Working through the Change study conducted by the Trades Union Congress (2003) surveyed 500 safety representatives on menopausal issues. Symptoms attributed to the menopause made worse by work were hot flushes, headaches and tiredness. Workplace temperature and poor ventilation also made symptoms worse. Employers can help to reduce the stigma and embarrassment when women are in the company of work colleagues and by supporting women experiencing the menopause employers can reduce absenteeism, maximise productivity and make the workplace environment as comfortable as possible.

To help develop a rich and diverse working culture within the workplace here are ten top tips to help employers cultivate good working practices:
1.  Raising awareness of the menopause in an occupational setting through health promotion programmes and awareness training for managers.
2.  Organising social support within the work place.  This could include information packs, mentoring schemes and lunch time support.
3.  Offer flexible working hours, job sharing, and opportunities to work from home. Many women experience tiredness.
4.  The temperature of the work environment can be an issue, especially in refined spaces. Fans and temperature controls could be implemented.
5.  A rest room where women can relax, just to have some space.
6.  Cold drinking water – many organisations do not provide this.
7.  Prioritise work life balance and maintain firm boundaries in working life and non-working life. Adopt buffer zones so that women feel in control more effectively. Many menopausal women experience feelings of ‘not coping’. If work becomes an issue encourage a specific time each day so that worries can be written down and then discarded.
8.  Remain hopeful and optimistic – women experiencing the menopause often go through different types of emotions such as anxiety and depression. Remember these feelings do subside. Encourage women to discuss how they feel as these feelings are very normal.
9.  Become a supportive manager, women are more likely to discuss menopausal issues with somebody they feel able to talk to. This also encourages organisational loyalty and less absenteeism which can only be a good thing for all companies.
These tips are based on research undertaken by Amanda Griffiths of Nottingham University: Women’s Experience of Working through the Menopause [PDF].

ECU announces pilots of schemes to bring about systemic change to improve equality

The advisory equality group for universities (the Equality Challenge Unit) is developing a national charter marks to kick-start initiatives tackling race and gender inequality in employment in higher education.

The charter marks are being developed to help the sector address the continuing underrepresentation of black and minority ethnic staff and the similar underrepresentation of women at senior levels.

They are intended to instigate long term systemic and cultural changes to tackle discrimination. Our experiences with the Athena SWAN Charter (improving gender equality in STEMM subjects) have shown that such a scheme can have a significant impact on entrenched exclusionary practices and be successful in changing behaviour within higher education institutions.

·      A race equality charter mark will focus on improving race equality for staff, concentrating on career progression and pipeline issues.
·      A gender equality charter mark will extend the Athena SWAN scheme to cover all disciplines.

The charter marks build on programmes run by ECU over the past year investigating effective initiatives.

A pilot of the gender equality charter mark has been undertaken and, subject to consulting with the sector on the proposal, we plan to develop this further. The current Athena SWAN charter will continue to operate as it currently stands, with a view to bring the two together further down the line.

The challenges to gender and race equality are different, so the charter mark for race will begin as a small-scale pilot, but will grow incrementally.
Both schemes will be developed in consultation with the sector and be flexible to take into account the individual context of an institution (including size and geographical area).

David Ruebain, Chief Executive of ECU said:

‘Despite the diligent work of individual higher education institutions and sector organisations, systemic discrimination continues to exist in higher education. Entrenched exclusionary practices have been found to stifle the careers of black and minority ethnic academics and support staff, and women are also still underrepresented at senior levels.
We have worked with many institutions on initiatives to promote race and gender equality, but these are complex, and sometimes sensitive, issues requiring a strategic approach. It is clear that cultural and systemic changes are necessary if we are to make any real headway on these challenges.
There is a long way to go, but the scheme has the potential to have a significant impact and be successful in changing behaviour within universities.’

ECU will be circulating further details, including projected timescales and resource implications, as soon as possible in the coming weeks.

EHRC guidance to help employers support staff experiencing domestic abuse

In April 2013, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published guidance to help employers manage and support employees affected by domestic abuse, which one in four women will experience at some point in their lifetime.

‘Managing and supporting employees experiencing domestic abuse’, developed by the EHRC and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, outlines how employers should respond if an employee is affected by domestic abuse.

The guidance is designed to enable employers to develop a domestic abuse workplace policy and provides tips for managers on how to manage and support an employee experiencing domestic abuse. These small steps can include giving an employee time off to consult a lawyer, diverting telephone calls or providing a safe car park space.

The guidance is necessary because domestic abuse is a subject that managers struggle to respond to appropriately. People experiencing domestic abuse can be subject to disciplinary action and even lose their jobs because their behaviour, being late for example, is misinterpreted. A domestic abuse workplace policy will mean that  skilled and experienced staff are able to retain their jobs and feel safe and supported in the workplace.
Statistics show that:

·          Domestic abuse currently costs UK businesses over £1.9 billion a year
·          In the UK, in any one year, more than 20% of employed women take time off work because of domestic violence, and 2% lose their jobs as a direct result of the abuse
·          75% of women that experience domestic abuse are targeted at work – from harassing phone calls and abusive partners arriving at the office unannounced, to physical assaults.

Ann Beynon, EHRC Board Member and Commissioner for Wales, comments:

“We are delighted to publish this guide in partnership with the CIPD which will have huge benefits for organisations. As Commissioner for the Equality and Human Rights Commission my aim is that every employer benefits from taking effective action in the workplace to ensure their staff experiencing domestic abuse feel safe and supported at work.
“This guidance includes low cost, common sense practical tips through to steps on developing an effective domestic abuse workplace policy. Therefore, whether a large company or one of the many SMEs there are steps you can take to help managers facilitate conversations about domestic abuse and put in place support for employees."

The guidance is also be available on the CIPD website

‘Sex and Power 2013: Who Runs Britain?’

In March 2013, the Counting Women In coalition published ‘Sex and Power 2013: Who Runs Britain?

The report examines the presence – or lack thereof – of women in politically powerful positions in politics and other spheres of public life in the UK today, including the police, the education sector, the arts and the world of finance. It then goes on to consider the implications of a country largely governed by men, and makes a series of recommendations for tackling the dearth of women in influential positions.

Key findings included:

  • just 22.5 percent of MPs are women, 21.7 percent of peers and 17.4 percent of the Cabinet. Women make up 13.3 percent of elected mayors and 14.6 percent of Police and Crime Commissioners.
  • Britain is falling down the global league table when it comes to the representation of women in politics, as other countries move forward faster: in 2001 we were ranked 33 out of 190 countries, but by the end of 2012 we had fallen to 60th[1] place.
  • women are similarly ‘missing’ in many other spheres of public life: just 36.4 percent of public appointments are women, 13.6 percent of the senior judiciary and 5 percent of Editors of national daily newspapers.
  • women’s absence is particularly marked in finance and economy: there are no women at all on the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee; women hold just 11.1 percent of UK Bank Chief Executive positions, 17.3 percent of FTSE 100 Director positions and make up just 15.1 percent of members of Local Economic Partnerships.

The report explores the impact of this dearth of women at the top tables of public life, and concludes that:

  • The lack of diversity in public life weakens democracy and public confidence in it;
  • Women make a positive difference to actual decision-making itself; excluding them from politics and other areas of public life means missing out on the substantial benefits greater involvement of women would bring, while also wasting the huge investment made in women and girls through the education system and beyond
  • A more diverse body politic with a wider spread of expertise and reflecting the life experience of both halves of the human race would be better placed to lead us through the complex times that face us.
  • Real, committed and targetted action is required; failure to do so means the UK will continue to ‘drift’.

Racial harassment claim by Jewish teacher over union’s Israel-Palestine policies fails

Mr R Fraser -v- University & College Union - Case Numbers: 2203390/201 -

In this case, a member of the Union brought various claims of harassment related to his “race, religion or belief” under section 57 of the Equality Act 2010. The wide ranging allegations made by the Claimant arose, in essence, from the way in which Union had handled the Israel/Palestine debate. For example, claims arose from motions debated at the Union’s congress on proposals for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions and related questions. The Claimant alleged that the Union was guilty of “institutional anti-Semitism” which he alleged constituted harassment of him as a Jewish member of the Union.

The Tribunal described the litigation as being “gargantuan” in scale. It heard from 34 witnesses including academics and MPs. The hearing lasted 20 days and required 23 hearing bundles.

Ultimately, in an extremely robust decision, the Tribunal rejected the Claimant’s allegations in their entirety. It found them to be “manifestly unmeritorious” and an “impermissible attempt to achieve political end by litigious means”. The Tribunal also expressed themselves as being worried by the implications of the claim. They sensed that underlying the litigation was a “worrying disregard for pluralism, tolerance and freedom of expression”. Of particular interest was the way in which the Tribunal dealt with issues of legal principle at heart of the claim.

Has Anti-Semitism in Europe become acceptable again

This video, produced by the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) as part of its Recycling Hate series, explores the issue of anti-Semitism in Europe

Source: ENAR

Illegal immigrant’ no more? How language changes and can label people

The American Associated Press (AP) Stylebook is making some changes in how they describe people living in a country illegally. These changes are interesting because they reflects how use of language can change over time and also emphasises accuracy of reporting over emotive phases which can “label” and stereotype people, rather than focusing on unacceptable actions or behaviour.

AP’s Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll explained the thinking behind the decision:

The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term “illegal immigrant” or the use of “illegal” to describe a person. Instead, it tells users that “illegal” should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.

Why did we make the change? The discussions on this topic have been wide-ranging and include many people from many walks of life. (Earlier, they led us to reject descriptions such as “undocumented,” despite ardent support from some quarters, because it is not precise. A person may have plenty of documents, just not the ones required for legal residence.)

Those discussions continued even after AP affirmed (at that time) “illegal immigrant” as the best use, for two reasons. A number of people felt that “illegal immigrant” was the best choice at the time. They also believed the always-evolving English language might soon yield a different choice and we should stay in the conversation.

Also, we had in other areas been ridding the Stylebook of labels. The new section on mental health issues argues for using credibly sourced diagnoses instead of labels. Saying someone was “diagnosed with schizophrenia” instead of schizophrenic, for example.

And that discussion about labeling people, instead of behavior, led us back to “illegal immigrant” again.

We concluded that to be consistent, we needed to change our guidance.
So we have.

Is this the best way to describe someone in a country without permission? We believe that it is for now. We also believe more evolution is likely down the road.

Will the new guidance make it harder for writers? Perhaps just a bit at first. But while labels may be more facile, they are not accurate...

Change is a part of AP Style because the English language is constantly evolving, enriched by new words, phrases and uses. Our goal always is to use the most precise and accurate words so that the meaning is clear to any reader anywhere.

The updated entry is being added immediately to the AP Stylebook Online and Manual de Estilo Online de la AP, the new Spanish-language Stylebook. It also will appear in the new print edition and Stylebook Mobile, coming out later in the spring. It reads as follows:

illegal immigration: Entering or residing in a country in violation of civil or criminal law. Except in direct quotes essential to the story, us illegal only to refer to an action, not a person: illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant.

Acceptable variations include living in or entering a country illegally or without legal permission.

Except in direct quotations, do not use the terms illegal alien, an illegal, illegals or undocumented.

Do not describe people as violating immigration laws without attribution. Specify wherever possible how someone entered the country illegally and from where.

Crossed the border? Overstayed a visa? What nationality?

People who were brought into the country as children should not be described as having immigrated illegally...

Discrimination arising from disability

Jamieson v Governing Body of Chorlton High School [2013] EqLR 429

Unlike direct discrimination, discrimination arising from disability can be justified as proportionate. In this case the Claimant teacher was dismissed for taking a 16-year-old former pupil to a concert and bringing her home at 3am in an intoxicated state. He produced medical evidence that his judgment was impaired by then-undiagnosed bipolar affective disorder and/or the effects of medication he was taking for depression.

On that basis, the Tribunal founds that the predominant reason for the Claimant’s behaviour was his disability.

Although the school acted in accordance with the legitimate aims of safeguarding children and protecting its reputation, the Tribunal concludes that dismissal was not proportionate in that there had been no assessment of the risk that such behaviour would be repeated. The Tribunal also concluded that to dismiss the Claimant for his behaviour when it was materially affected by his disability was not “proportionate to address any perceived threat to reputation”.

Employing older workers: an employer’s guide to today’s multi-generational workforce

This guide provides answers to employer questions about recruitment, performance, succession management, retention and transfer of skills, bringing on younger workers and retirement. It offers good practice solutions tried and tested by employers of various sectors and sizes.
The accompanying collection of over 30 case studies provides real life examples, showing how employers of various sectors and sizes have made the best of the opportunities, and effectively managed the issues presented by an ageing workforce. They offer practical examples and transferable experience.

EHRC Research Reports and Reading Lists

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) research team circulated updated information about EHRC research in the March 2013 research database newsletter.

To subscribe to the Research Database or request PDFs or printed copies of research reports please email

All available EHRC research reports can be downloaded from the research page of the EHRC website.

Since September 2009, each of these newsletters has included a reading list prepared by the EHRC’s Librarian on a particular equality theme. The latest reading list contains key books and journal articles on race issues. All reading lists are available HERE.

Source: Equality and Human Rights Commission

Stonewall Healthcare Equality Index 2013

The Healthcare Equality Index 2013 is Stonewall’s guide to the top healthcare organisations who have committed themselves to improving the health of lesbian, gay and bisexual people. The Top Ten healthcare organisations in England were:

1. Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
2. Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust
3. London Ambulance Service NHS Trust
4. St Andrews Healthcare Charitable Trust
5. Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust
6. Mersey Care NHS Trust
7. Barts Health NHS Trust
8. Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust
9. Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust
10. County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust

Source: Stonewall


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