Creating a fairer Britain
The Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010. Some of the information on this page may be out of date.
The starting point for any effort to improve access to your services is to assess what you are doing already and to look for areas where you can improve.
This might include:
Remember that barriers to accessing your service are not just physical barriers – think about whether you are unintentionally hindering some groups from using your services by other means, such as where you advertise your services or who you employ.
See Rights in action: working and earning for a full overview of employee’s rights.
An equality and diversity policy is an important statement of your organisation’s attitude to rights and equality in the services you offer. By drawing up an official policy you are making a commitment to ensuring that all service users receive fair and equal treatment.
An effective policy:
Your action plan takes the goals of your equality policy and specifies:
A good action plan makes sure that the goals of your equality and diversity policy are translated into real changes and improvements in the way you provide services.
You should make sure that all your employees are familiar with the policy and action plan, and how this will affect their work. This is particularly important for:
Most public authorities are required to publish race, disability and gender schemes or policies, and have an additional duty to actively promote equality.
If you are a contractor working for a public-sector client, they will have to make sure that you work in a way that complies with these duties. A good equality policy and action plan can help.
Making sure that complaints about discrimination are properly handled is central to good practice in equality.
Dealing with complaints quickly and carefully saves time and money in the long run. Many complaints end up in court because of avoidable mistakes earlier in the process, such as a poorly-thought-through adjustment or insensitive treatment of the original grievance.
Good complaints handling is an opportunity for any organisation to demonstrate that they listen to customers and react to their concerns, and that they can acknowledge mistakes and will put them right quickly – all of which can help create customer loyalty and generate positive feedback.
Don’t wait for a complaint to be made before developing a complaints procedure. You should make sure that all your staff are familiar with the procedure – through training or induction – and it should include details of:
Your complaints process should aim to be open and transparent, and be available to all customers.
If the outcome of your complaints procedure does not satisfy the complainant, they can pursue the matter through the county court in England and Wales, or sheriff court in Scotland.
You should always try to resolve a complaint at the earliest possible opportunity.
To ensure that your plan is successful, it’s crucial that you monitor progress and take action if targets are not being met.
Take your action plan seriously: see that progress is reviewed regularly by senior staff.
Recognise and reward good practice in equality and diversity. Highlight good examples or new developments in internal communications such as staff newsletters, and develop an appropriate reward scheme for the people involved.