Making Britain a fairer place for everyone

by Rebecca Hilsenrath

Published: 07 Jul 2016

Over the past year we have continued to build the reputation and confidence of our organisation, delivering high-impact work that has had a positive effect on people’s lives.

This included publishing Is Britain Fairer?, the most comprehensive review of its kind. In a tight financial climate and with the continuing controversy over spending decisions, the need for intelligent, evidence-based decision-making has never been greater. The report provides a state of the nation analysis and also offers a basis for future work by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (the Commission) and many other public bodies.

The need for intelligent, evidence-based decision-making has never been greater

We delivered on our strategic priority to promote fairness and equality of opportunity in Great Britain’s future economy. This included the first comprehensive study for nine years on the scale and nature of pregnancy and maternity discrimination and disadvantage in the workplace.

We undertook an inquiry into the recruitment and appointment of directors to the boards of FTSE 350 companies; completed a review of equality and human rights law relating to religion or belief; published guidance to tackle unlawful discrimination in recruitment advertising; and launched a publication to help increase diversity within the television broadcasting industry.

We also delivered on our strategic priority to promote fair access to public services, and autonomy and dignity in service delivery. We completed a two-year sports inclusion programme; launched a new online resource to help disabled school children achieve their potential; carried out work around the Public Sector Equality Duty; completed a two-year programme to improve compliance with equality and human rights obligations in health and social care; and undertook a programme of work examining the state of access to civil justice in England and Wales.

In addition, we delivered on our strategic priority to promote dignity and respect, and contribute to keeping people safe. We completed a two-year programme to ensure better reporting of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender hate crime; ran a partnership training programme with the College of Policing to address disproportionate use of stop and search police powers in England; and intervened in the High Court in a case which ruled that including the Carers Allowance in the benefit cap is unlawful indirect discrimination against disabled people.

An A-status National Human Rights Institution

We constantly monitor the UK’s record of respect for the international human rights agreements to which it is signatory, and in the last year were successful again in being rated by the United Nations (UN) as an A-status National Human Rights Institution.

In the past year, the new Women and Equalities Committee has been appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Government Equalities Office. The Commission has, on a number of occasions, given oral evidence or written submissions to the Committee or made it aware of issues arising and forthcoming reports.

These have included: evidence given by the Chair and Chief Executive in November 2015 on the work of the Commission; evidence given by the Vice Chair in May 2016 on pregnancy and maternity discrimination; and written evidence submitted to the Committee’s inquiries on transgender equality, the gender pay gap and women in executive management. 

The Commission has welcomed the establishment of the Committee and has written to the Chair to invite the Committee’s consideration of establishing accountability to the Committee for the Commission’s work on equalities.

We also work with the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR), responding to inquiries and writing to them to raise concerns about proposed legislation. We offer to share analysis and evidence with the JCHR in order to assist their scrutiny of issues. We have also written to the JCHR about increasing accountability for our human rights work.

Furthermore, we have launched our refreshed website, which receives in excess of two million visitors each year, and improved our social media reach by over 25 per cent, with a total Twitter following in excess of 17,000.

We have continued to strengthen financial controls and reporting and to drive further efficiency savings through the implementation of our estates strategy.

Working to ensure that equality and human rights are for everyone

These are just a selection of the significant achievements during a year of strong delivery for the Commission, which are highlighted in our new annual report. We will continue to build on these achievements, delivering against our remit effectively and efficiently, and working to ensure that equality and human rights are for everyone.