Since 2005 Sandwell Homes has been working with the Equality Standard which was developed by the Government, the Commission for Racial Equality, the Disability Rights Commission and the Equal Opportunities Commission to help organisations make progress in mainstreaming equality.
The Equality Framework, developed to make the process simpler, smarter, proportional and relevant, replaced the standard in September 2009.
It is based on three levels of achievement; ‘developing’, ‘achieving’ and ‘excellent’ rather than the five levels of the old standard.
The framework highlights actions that:
It also includes:
- Will aid compliance with the equality public duties
- Will help meet high standards of customer care
- Will provide evidence on equality and diversity for the organisational assessment
The framework uses a definition of equality, which is more aspirational than the legal definitions of equality. It is about what we can do to create a fairer society and recognises that:
- A wider definition of equality based on equal life chances
- A focus on equality outcomes for all sections of the community, mapping and narrowing gaps
- A central role for self-assessment and peer challenge
This definition includes the groups that are protected by discrimination law. Sandwell Homes will need to continue to consider the impact of race, gender and transgender, disability, age, sexual orientation and religion/ belief may have on the life chances of members of their communities.
- Equality is an issue for us all
- We don’t all start from the same place
- To create a fairer society we need to recognise different needs
Five performance areas
The five areas of performance are:
Three levels of performance
- Knowing our communities and equality mapping.
- Place shaping, leadership, partnership and organisational commitment.
- Community engagement and satisfaction.
- Responsive services and customer care.
- A modern and diverse workforce.
The framework is still designed to allow authorities to benchmark their performance, but instead of the five levels in the old standard, there are now three levels of performance:
Authorities that have reached levels 1 and 2 migrate across from the standard to the framework as ‘developing’. Those at level 3 of the Standard migrate across as ‘achieving’. Those at level 4 are classified as ‘moving towards excellence’ and those at level 5 as ‘excellent’.
- Level 1: ‘developing’
- Level 2: ‘achieving’
- Level 3: ‘excellent’
Sandwell Homes achieved level 4 of the Equality Standard in April 2010 therefore we migrate across as ‘moving towards excellence’. This classification is not a level under the Framework but is intended to recognise the achievements of level 4.
The Equality Standard and now the Framework establishes the importance of fair and equal treatment and access to local government services and employment. The adoption of the framework is not a statutory duty however, it was introduced by the Government as a Best Value Performance Indicator (BV2) from April 2002.
Working with the Equality Framework will demonstrate equality compliance and good practice requirements for Sandwell Homes. The Framework, whilst acknowledging specific barriers and needs around ethnicity, gender and disability also establishes targets and actions leading towards a systematic and robust approach for promoting equality. It provides a common framework for mainstreaming equality.
The Framework seeks to encourage equality as a corporate goal to ensure that continuous improvements are implemented at all levels of the organisation. The Framework therefore, places considerable emphasis on the establishment of key processes within Sandwell Homes.
There is no statutory duty to adopt the Equality Framework however, good practice in the provision of public service demands that equality and diversity issues are vigorously and proactively managed.
Sandwell Homes is legally required to ensure compliance with all equalities legislation covering:
From October 2010, The Equality Act 2010 also includes protection from discrimination due to: gender re-assignment and pregnancy/ maternity.
- Race (Ethnicity) Relations
- Sex Discrimination
- Disability Discrimination
- Age Discrimination
- Discrimination due to Gender (includes gender identity)
- Discrimination on the grounds of Religion / Faith
The Equality Framework will support the development and management of equality in employment and service delivery of Sandwell Homes.