Equality and Diversity policy

Part of the Trust’s Customer Care Framework - Level 1 policy approval

1.Statement of Intent

1.1 The Trust has diverse customers, a diverse workforce and works in diverse communities.  It is therefore important that equality and diversity is at the heart of everything we do - both as a service provider and as an employer.

1.2 The aim of the Trust is to make sure that our residents/tenants, employees and the communities we serve are treated fairly and equitably, without discrimination or prejudice.

1.3 By having and implementing an Equality and Diversity Policy, we aim to prevent discrimination occurring in any aspect of our work, to promote equality of opportunity and good relations and to comply with the law.

1.4 Our vision is, Homes for living, communities for life, and we want every customer and member of staff to feel that:

  • they are valued and treated with courtesy and respect regardless of their background, beliefs or personal circumstances

  • they get equal access to our services and that we make reasonable adjustments to our services, where we can, to meet their demands

  • they trust us as an organisation that really listens, understands their needs and does it’s best to meet them.

1.5 All managers are responsible for making sure:

  • they provide equal employment opportunities for all, making reasonable adjustments for individuals where appropriate

  • their staff receive appropriate training and understand their responsibilities

  • they take equality and diversity issues into account in decision-making and service planning

  • equality Impact Assessments are carried out where required

  • they analyse access to and satisfaction with the services under their control by all groups of residents.

1.6 Everyone in the Trust has a duty to uphold the Equality and Diversity Policy by:

  • acting and behaving at all times in a way that supports the principles of equality

  • treating all customers, colleagues, potential future employees and members of the public with respect and courtesy at all times

  • taking equality and diversity issues into account in service delivery

  • complying with policies and procedures relating to equality and diversity

  • challenging discrimination and inequality, bringing suspected instances to their line manager’s attention.

1.7 Breaches of the Policy are taken seriously and can result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

2. Outline of Policy

2.1 The Trust will be an accessible organisation by:

  • providing a range of contact methods, shaped to customers’ needs and preferences

  • promoting services proactively and through a range of mediums

  • monitoring who is/is not accessing our services and taking action to address any potential or real barriers to improve access

  • maintaining a website which is informative and easy to use

  • providing information which is clear, relevant and written in plain English

  • providing information in alternative formats and/or alternative languages where a need for this is identified or requested

  • having accessible customer-facing premises and working environments

  • adapting homes and communal areas to improve accessibility and promote continued independent living where appropriate

  • ensuring employment opportunities are accessible to all through a diverse range of methods

  • making reasonable adjustments in the workplace where appropriate.

2.2 The Trust will meet the needs of its’ customers by:

  • using the customer’s’ preferred communication methods wherever possible

  • tailoring the way we deliver key services to individuals to meet their needs and preferences wherever possible

  • using customer diversity information to make services more efficient and effective

  • ensuring key customer-facing policies and procedures are robust, deliver the outcomes that they aim to, have due consideration of equality and diversity issues and are applied in a fair and non-discriminatory way

  • taking action to address any issues of inequality or discrimination identified, whether these are real or perceived

  • supporting customers who have been harassed and dealing with perpetrators, in an appropriate way

  • identifying and supporting the needs of customers living in our homes

  • having staff and contractors who are respectful, dedicated to our equality and diversity commitments and responsive to customers’ needs

  • providing a range of involvement opportunities that suit the needs and preferences of our customers

  • seeking and acting on customer feedback where we can and continually review levels of customer satisfaction with our key services.

2.3 The Trust will meet the needs of its employees by:

  • having a fair and robust policy and procedure in place for recruitment and selection

  • providing equality of opportunity to all

  • ensuring key staff-facing policies and procedures are robust, deliver what they promise, have due regard of equality and diversity issues and are applied in a fair and non-discriminatory way.

  • encouraging and promoting respect in the workplace

  • taking action to address any issues of inequality or discrimination identified, whether these are real or perceived

  • taking a zero tolerance approach to bullying and harassment of our employees, including third party harassment

  • seeking and acting on employees’ feedback where we can and regularly reviewing levels of employee satisfaction with the Trust as an employer

  • equipping staff with appropriate equality and diversity training and guidance.

2.4 The Trust will work with others and in the community by:

  • seeking to have a Board, senior management team and workforce that is broadly representative of the communities the Trust serves

  • seeking to work with contractors and partners that share similar equality and diversity commitments

  • requiring any company employed by the Trust to have an Equality and Diversity policy or to sign up to and support the Trust’s equality and diversity commitments

  • requiring customers who regularly take part in involvement activities e.g. those who are members of the various resident groups, such as the Tenant Scrutiny Panel to sign up to and support the Trust’s equality and diversity commitments

  • liaising with expert organisations in equality and diversity e.g. Stonewall, Two Ticks for Disability, etc. to improve the work that we do

  • promoting inclusion and community cohesion through our community engagement work

  • seek to work with hard to reach groups through our community engagement work

  • encouraging and promoting respect in the workplace.

3. Equality and Diversity

3.1 This policy takes into consideration the Equality Act 2010 which has replaced all previous and existing equality law.

4. Value for Money

4.1 Adherence to this policy will ensure services are delivered in the most effective and efficient way to meets the needs of our tenants thereby reducing possible dissatisfaction with our services.

5. Consultation

5.1 This policy has been written in line with the Equality Act 2010 and feedback from staff, residents and other stakeholders.

6. How will the policy be implemented

6.1 The Trust’s Board through the Chief Executive has overall responsibility for this Policy, its development, review and monitoring. The Executive Management Team is responsible for the implementation of this policy.

6.2 All employees have responsibility for the implementation of the policy in their day to day work.

7. Monitoring

7.1 The effectiveness of the policy will be monitored by the Head of Customer Service and Independent Living in many different ways, including:

  • the continual assessment of the equality impact that policies and services are having or may potentially have on customers and staff

  • satisfaction results and the number of EIAs carried out, as necessary, against each policy, strategy and procedure

  • the monitoring and learning from satisfaction analysis, complaints received by the Trust and feedback received through any other channels

7.2 An update on Equality and Diversity is provided annually to the Board summarising developments during the year.

7.3 The monitoring of this policy and its effectiveness will be reviewed in the light of changing legislative and regulatory requirements.

8. Review

8.1 This policy will be reviewed every three years or more frequently if legislation or circumstances dictate.

8.2 An Equality Impact Assessment is not required as the policy is written in line with the Equality Act 2010. This Policy sets out the Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust’s approach to equality and diversity, including a commitment to continually assess the equality impact of key policies and procedures that affect customers and staff.

9. Legislation and other documents

9.1 The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society and has replaced all previous and existing equality law. The Act provides a new, cross-cutting framework, aiming to advance equality of opportunity, protect individuals from unfair treatment and promote a fair and more equal society.

9.2 People are protected from discrimination on the basis of certain criteria, referred to in the Act as ‘protected characteristics’.

9.3 The 9 protected characteristics are as follows:

  • Age

  • Disability

  • Gender reassignment

  • Marriage or civil partnership

  • Pregnancy and maternity

  • Race

  • Religion or Belief

  • Sex (gender)

  • Sexual orientation

9.4 The Equality Act provides protection against a range of prohibited conduct, such as:

  • Direct discrimination, including by association and perception

  • Indirect discrimination- this covers all the protected characteristics

  • Pregnancy and maternity discrimination

  • Harassment

  • Third party harassment

  • Discrimination arising from disability

  • Duty to make reasonable adjustments.

9.5 A range of Strategies, Policies and other documents will reflect this Policy. These include:

  • The Equality Act 2010

  • The Human Rights Act 1998

  • Access and Customer Care Policy

  • Allocations and Lettings Policy

  • Bucks Home Choice Allocations Policy

  • Bullying & Harassment Policy

  • Code of Conduct for Employees

  • Communications Framework

  • Complaints Policy

  • Data Protection Policy

  • Discrimination & Racial Harassment Policy

  • Customer Service Commitments

  • Recruitment & Selection Policy

  • Hate Crime and Harassment Policy

  • Maternity Policy

  • Recruitment of Ex-offenders Policy

Policy author details
Author  Olivia Jackson
Job title Head of Customer Services and Independent Living
Email olivia.jackson@vaht.co.uk
Phone 01296 732605