Introduction to Equality and Diversity
This page provides basic information for members and youth infrastructure networks to enable them to promote equal opportunities and social inclusion effectively. Increasingly local authorities and other public agencies as well as voluntary and community sector organisations are required to provide evidence of their experience of, and commitment to equal opportunities by developing equality plans for local areas and organisations. In the past, equal opportunities policies have focused on race, gender, disability and sexual orientation. These areas were driven by legislation rather than by community development principles of social justice.
The term diversity is used to describe and to acknowledge the differences that exist within humanity in terms of the traditional strands, and at the same time to embrace and celebrate that difference in ways that add value to outcomes for young people. The concept of diversity is much broader than addressing issues around the traditional strands of race, gender, disability and sexual orientation.
Diversity is about taking proactive steps to making things work for everyone, not just righting wrongs for some groups or communities. We are a society which has become more aware of diversity in family life, education, faith, culture and more. A good diversity strategy and practice can help counteract both direct and indirect acts of discrimination which maybe as a result of ignorance or prejudices.
Why do networks need to think about equality and diversity?
NCVYS Diversity statement:
Members of NCVYS have agreed with our value statement around youth work. This encompasses the principles of equality, diversity and the participation of young people: NCVYS values and encourages the participation and contribution of all individuals, regardless of age, class, disability, ethnic background, faith, gender and sexual orientation. NCVYS is committed to encouraging those organisations into membership who work with young people who are disadvantaged or discriminated against on the grounds above.
In recent times, debates and initiatives to facilitate social integration and multiculturalism have made infrastructure networks vital structures for promoting social inclusion and community cohesion. Networks hold strategic positions in bringing people from different backgrounds together, and to facilitate learning amongst members or participants. There is, of course, a requirement to comply with legislation but there are other reasons why community and voluntary youth sector organisations need to get to grips with managing diversity. There is a moral as well as a business case for organisations and networks to consider as they explore opportunities for managing diversity. It has been demonstrated that a good diversity strategy increases business opportunities as well as provide good pubic profile for organisations and networks.
It is vital for networks to develop expertise in the area of diversity for two reasons:
1. It is good practice in relation to social justice and democracy to support and promote equal opportunities and diversity in employment practices and service delivery
2. Current legislation and government demands on public sector funders and partners, particularly the changing face of commissioning and procurement practices; are leading to greater demand on the voluntary children’s and young people’s sectors, to develop policies and demonstrate outcomes in this area.
The main equalities legislation since 1970 are as follows:
1970 Equal Pay Act
1974 Health and Safety at Work Act
1975 Sex Discrimination Act
1976 Race Relations Act
1978 Employment Protection Act
1994 Disability Discrimination Act
1997 Protection from Harassment Act
2000 Human Rights Act
2001 Race Relations (Amendment) Act
2003 Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations
2003 Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations
2006 Employment Equality (Age) Regulations
2006 Equality Act
The Equality Act of 2006 was enacted to establish what is now the EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) following a review of existing equalities and discrimination laws. It aims to bring together and modernise all anti-discrimination laws so that is simpler and fairer. The Act encourages and supports the development of an inclusive society in which, people are able to achieve their full potential and where each individual’s human rights are protected against all forms of discrimination. The EHRC seeks to be an independent and influential champion to promote and celebrate a diverse Britain.
An Equalities Review was commissioned by the Prime Minister in 2005 to look into the causes of persistent discrimination and inequality in Britain. The aims of the Review are to:
provide an understanding of the causes of disadvantage that public policy should be addressing
make practical recommendations on key policy priorities for Government and the public sector, employers and trade unions, civic society and the voluntary sector
inform the modernisation of equality legislation, towards a Single Equality Bill, and the development of the new Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Single Equality Bill
In June 2008, the Government Equalities Office published Framework for a Fairer Future – the Equality Bill, which outlines the steps that will be taken and the main themes of the Bill to be introduced in Parliament in the next session.
To read about NCVYS's recent Faith, Spirituality and Young People conference >> NCVYS conference
To find out more about diversity training opportunities in the sector >> Training Directory - Courses: Diversity
How to help young people explore and develop their spirituality >> NCVYS guidance
For more information:
>> The Equality and Human Rights Commission