Policies and procedures

Your organisation should have policies in place to ensure equality is central to your activities. It is important to think about how this can be achieved.

Overall aims

It is good practice for all organisations to have a written statement on equality.  This could be an equality scheme, policy or strategy, or similar.

The new Equality Act 2010 requires certain public sector organisations to produce a statement on ‘equality outcomes’.  This means setting out exactly what the organisation aims to achieve in terms of equality. The equality outcomes must be developed taking reasonable steps to involve people who have protected characteristics by law.

These organisations must then regularly report on progress towards these outcomes (every four years).

Develop your practice

  • Review your organisation’s policies and procedures statement on equalities.
  • If the organisation does not have an equalities statement, consider how one could be developed.

Assessing impact

It is important to think about how your policies and practices impact on equality. 

Equality impact assessments involve assessing your organisation's policies and practices to establish how they might impact on different communities. The aim is to ensure that all of your policies promote equality.

From April 2011, all ‘public authorities’ need to assess the impact of their proposed policies and practices on people who have ‘protected characteristics’ under the new Equality Act 2010.  This means that any public sector organisation undertaking CLD activity needs to do an Equality Impact Assessment which considers impact in relation to:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender
  • race or ethnicity
  • language
  • faith, religion or belief
  • sexual orientation
  • gender identity
  • marriage or civil partnership
  • pregnancy or maternity.

Develop your practice

Your organisation should have a standard format for doing an equalities impact assessment. If not, you may find the NHS Scotland and Scottish Government Equality and Diversity Impact Assessment Toolkit useful. This toolkit is targeted at the health sector but outlines a useful framework.

  • Try adapting this framework for use within your organisation.

Voluntary and community organisations do not have this same public sector duty. But you would still find it useful to assess the impact of your policies and practices in relation to equality – and it would be good practice to do so.

In the workplace

Your organisation also has responsibilities as an employer. 

Your organisation should be aiming to develop a diverse workforce which draws on the skills and experiences of a wide range of communities. Your workforce can become a key way of expressing the diversity of your organisation and engaging effectively with different groups.

An important way of demonstrating that you are committed to developing a diverse team – of both staff and volunteers – is through preparation of an equal opportunities policy. This should cover your approach to recruitment, promotion and training, and methods of ensuring equality of opportunity for different equalities groups. Techniques you might use to encourage a diverse workforce include:

  • use of flexible working arrangements
  • targeted promotion of job advertisements to equalities groups
  • developing clear, objective and justifiable criteria within job descriptions
  • developing linkages with local organisations to reach a wide pool of applicants.

You should also ensure that all staff and volunteers are able to work for your organisation in a pleasant and safe environment, without experiencing harassment, bullying or discrimination. Having a policy on harassment, bullying and discrimination helps to set out exactly what is expected from staff, and sets out clear procedures if problems are experienced.

This policy should link closely to policies on discipline and grievances, as well as staff training programmes.