GROUP EQUALITY & DIVERSITY FRAMEWORK

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1 1. INTRODUCTION 1.1 In this document we have outlined the framework within which Orbit aims to deliver its vision for Equality and Diversity (E&D) for which runs along side the delivery of the Group Business Plan. Our commitment is for E&D to be part of Orbit s organisational culture, supporting our journey from good to great. A culture and approach to E&D which demonstrate fairness to all, and a positive response to society s diversity in all that we do. E&D should be used to support our business objectives:- to provide a range of quality services and homes for our customers that meet their needs to support the creation of places in which people can live and thrive by investing in our neighbourhoods to help us develop and invest in our colleagues, where Orbit is recognised as a great organisation to work for. 1.2 As part of our objective to mainstream E&D we have linked our E&D outcomes to the key themes within our business plan under the headings of customer, place and organisation and focussed our plan on a journey. For E&D to make a real difference to Orbit, our staff and our customers, we must focus on the outcomes that we want to achieve. While compliance with the legal, regulatory and inspection requirements is a necessary catalyst for cultural change within an organisation, it is not an end in itself. We have devised a framework based on a three stepped progression from basic compliance outcomes to outcomes that move us from good to great in terms of using E&D to support our business. We recognise that we cannot deliver Building Brighter Futures for People and Communities without considering equality and diversity; and that equality and diversity is an integral part of our organisational culture and our Group values 1.3 This is an overarching framework that applies to all parts of the Orbit Group but has flexibility built into the approach to support local delivery. We recognise that some parts of the Orbit Group will be further ahead than others on this journey, and how each part of the Group chooses to get to great will be different. We may also progress at different speeds, but our end destination in terms of the outcomes and success factors will be the same. 2. WHAT DO EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY MEAN The Orbit Group have adopted the following definitions for equality and diversity. Drawing on the findings of the Equalities Review we see an equal society being defined as one which; protects and promotes equal, real freedom and substantive opportunity to live in the ways people value and would choose, so that everyone can flourish. recognises people s different needs, situations and goals and removes the barriers that limit what people can do and can be. 1

2 Diversity is about: recognising that everyone is different and that we all have a different contribution to make based on our life experiences, skills and knowledge. valuing difference. These principles of equality and diversity underpin our mission to build brighter futures for people and communities. 3. LEGAL REQUIREMENTS The new Equality Act has been considered as part of this review. Our framework adopts an inclusive approach to E&D by incorporating the key equality strands within the approach. Each part of the Group will be required to develop a Single Equality Scheme, a legislative requirement to produce a public document refining our Group commitment to E&D into the local context. Each Single Equality Scheme will then translate this Group commitment into a local 3 year action plan, meeting both legal and regulatory requirements and moving beyond these in future years. Whilst detailed statutory codes of practice and non statutory guidance are currently being prepared by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, key principles from the drafts together with guidance from the existing statutory codes have been incorporated within this approach and applied across all equality strands. The document will be reviewed at the end of March 2011 to ensure that our approach meets the requirements of the new legislation and guidance. Broadly the current legal requirements are to: promote equality of opportunity and good relations between all groups of people eliminate discrimination and harassment that is unlawful We have applied these principles to the key seven equality strands including the Single Equality Act s protected characteristics (ethnicity, disability, gender (incl. marriage and pregnancy / maternity), sexuality (incl. civil partnerships), religion, age, gender reassignment). 4. OUR APPROACH 4.1 Our approach is based on our overarching organisational goal to move the from good to great in all that we do. We see E&D as a tool supporting our journey from a good to a great provider of homes, services, communities and employment. With regard to E&D we have established three measurable stages to this journey. Basic - compliance with the legal, regulatory and inspection requirements. Good - having ensured compliance with the basic E&D legislation, regulation and inspection requirements we can then develop our approach, towards embedding E&D, through positive action and peer group benchmarking. We will also review our approach to ensure that it is in line with the new Single Equality Act and associated statutory and non statutory codes of practice. Great - our vision for great is using the diversity within our staff and customer base to find innovative ways of promoting E&D and addressing disadvantage, of delivering services that our communities need now and in the future. 2

3 To do this our vision for great means: successfully embedding E&D in all that we do our staff and customers embracing the benefits that E&D can bring to an organisation and where our stakeholders influence our approach and priorities for E&D building a reputation and being recognised as a market leader in terms of E&D demonstrating the business benefits of E&D for the housing and other sectors. 5. THE FRAMEWORK The framework itself comprises three elements: 1. The outcomes we have set ourselves - and what success looks like in relation to these. 2. How we will deliver our outcomes - how we will engage with stakeholders. 3. How we will monitor the effectiveness of our delivery - performance monitoring. 5.1 The Outcomes These will form the foundation of the Single Equality Schemes for each part of the business. These Single Equality Schemes will be finalised by each part of the Group by December 2010 and they will cover a three year period in line with this framework. They may include additional outcomes, which will be determined by each part of the Group, together with timescales, staff responsibilities and priorities; in consultation with staff, customers and other stakeholders. The outcomes are progressive, and have a clear focus linked to our business objectives. They cover CUSTOMER - To provide an excellent service that is responsive to customer needs, is non discriminatory and continuously improving Outcome Where we have an effective and integrated approach to equality impact assessments (EIA). Where EIA s are undertaken and any actions required are fed into the continuous improvement structures of the respective part of the business. Where we use the information relating to the diversity of our customers to develop services which meet our customers needs and aspirations. Our resident engagement strategy will seek to engage with a diverse range of customers in diverse ways. To ensure our E&D principles are embedded throughout our Customer First Strategy ensuring that our services are accessible and are responsive to the needs of our communities. That our products and services consider, meet and anticipate the current and future demand and aspirations of our customers. 3

4 PLACE To develop homes, places and communities where people can prosper and achieve their aspirations. Outcome That we consider the diversity of our customers and issues of access and discrimination in the emerging housing agendas e.g. of worklessness, financial inclusion, ageing population. That we work in partnership to contribute to cohesive and sustainable communities, that are diverse and thriving. That the homes we build are accessible to members of the communities in which we work. That we offer a variety of tenures, products and services to meet the needs, demand and aspirations of the communities in which we work. ORGANISATION - To ensure that there is effective leadership of the agenda, with arrangements in place to scrutinise performance and set challenging goals for the Group / Operating Associations / Group Services. Outcome To have an effective E&D delivery framework that supports the delivery of these outcomes and our commitment to E&D. For our boards and staff to be representative of the communities in which we work and which challenges the organisation to deliver its commitment for E&D An enhanced approach to procurement using our purchasing power, particularly in relation to larger contracts. Where our revised approach can demonstrate in real terms the commitment of our contractors to E&D. An approach which can demonstrate that as a result we have achieved value for money, improved the quality of the services and products we provide to all our customers and staff. To communicate, improve and make real our commitment to E&D, ensuring that our staff, customers and partners are aware of our commitment to E&D and the business benefits that it brings. By bringing this framework document and our commitment alive we will raise awareness and understanding of our E&D agenda. Where the current E&D training programme is reviewed and extended with a clear link to business and service developments. Where we use the training to capture good practice, tailor our services to customers and use the feedback to inform our priorities and approach for the future. To be recognised as an employer of choice. An organisation which attracts and recruits the best people from a range of backgrounds into an organisation which promotes the retention and the career development of its staff. In so doing we will create a diverse and vibrant place to work which helps embed E&D within the Orbit Group ambition, values and customer first principles. 4

5 5.2 Delivery Having established a set of clear outcomes which focus on what we want to achieve. We need to then consider how we will ensure that we deliver the outcomes we have set ourselves. The key elements of our approach to delivery therefore focus on: Leadership of the agenda - strategically and operationally; Wide ranging engagement of stakeholders involving scrutiny of what we do, how we do it and our success in achieving the outcomes we have set ourselves; Through good communication a clear link between our strategic and operational E&D objectives. Each part of the business will comply with this E&D framework and to do so will devise their own local delivery structure in consideration of their local circumstances. Local delivery will mirror the Group delivery framework outlined in appendix 1. Each part of the business will develop its own, outcome focussed, local delivery structure which will be supported by Group Leadership Team members in respective parts of the business. The structure will include: A local governance structure and lead board member role; A Single Equality Scheme (incorporating a local action plan) to chart their journey from good to great; Local performance indicators in respect of those outlined in 5.3, together with other local measures derived from development of the Single Equality Schemes. Each Single Equality Scheme will include a statement as to how each respective part of the Orbit Group propose delivering this agreed framework based on the organisational structure outlined in appendix 1. To support the local delivery of the E&D framework an E&D toolkit has been developed to be used operationally to help define / make real the outcomes identified within this framework, through a series of practical examples that will help each part of the business define their own journey from good to great. Further support and assistance can also be provided by the Group E&D Advisor, who can be commissioned to help develop the local level framework. Annually the Group E&D Advisor will review progress of this framework document to ensure that each part of the Group is complying with our commitment to E&D. 5.3 Monitoring our Delivery The framework incorporates clear measures for monitoring progress against our outcomes, linked to good practice (from the existing codes of practice). Where there is an apparent disparity in service delivery / satisfaction, we will investigate further and identify positive action and targets to redress this imbalance. We will monitor the following areas, by equality strand presented under the three key themes of our business plan (Customer, Place and Organisation). In addition to the following areas of service delivery each part of the Group will be expected to develop their own relevant performance measures in response to the development and outcomes contained within their Single Equality Schemes. 5

6 CUSTOMER Customer service customer profiling data, lettings, hate crime, principle housing services Satisfaction with principle housing services Resident involvement the profile of those involved in our organisation PLACE Satisfaction with our new homes ORGANISATION Governance the number of board members, those board members who have had E&D training Procurement proactively monitoring contractor responses to E&D within the procurement process. Employment principle areas of employment recruitment, performance appraisal, training, and development, promotion, disciplinary and grievance, harassment, dismissal / terminations, aids and adaptations in the workplace. 5.4 Strategic (Group) and Local (OA/Orbit Services) Reporting of E & D The Group Board will receive a consolidated Group level performance report annually in June. Each Managing Director / Orbit Services Director will ensure that the Strategic Board / Group Services Committee will receive their E&D report annually in May. The report will highlight good performance as well as explanations and actions identified where performance has dipped. 6. CONCLUSION Our aim is that through this framework we can demonstrate our commitment to treat everyone fairly, and to provide equality of opportunity in all areas of our business. 6

7 Appendix 1 Delivering our E&D framework GROUP EQUALITY & DIVERSITY FRAMEWORK Orbit Group Board (lead Board member for E&D) Group Executive Team Group Equality and Diversity Advisor Group Leadership Team Local delivery structures (will include) Strategic Board (Lead Board member) Service Boards Operational staff Staff forums Workability etc. Residents Stakeholders Local delivery will be agreed by each part of the business to meet operational needs and in consideration of the principles of delivery of the E&D framework. Operational delivery will be defined and implemented as part of each Single Equality Scheme 7

8 Orbit Group Board and Board members GROUP EQUALITY & DIVERSITY FRAMEWORK THE ROLES Strategic leadership of the E&D agenda linking operational and strategic issues for E&D. Group level scrutiny and challenge of the E&D agenda. Consider the Group s strategy regarding E&D and its incorporation and promotion throughout the business. Act as independent friends to the Group ensuring compliance with this framework and challenging the executive to demonstrate the Group s commitment to E&D across all areas of our business. To share good practice in terms of E&D gained outside of Orbit. Role of Group Executive Team Leadership of the E&D agenda and a to demonstrate a personal commitment to E&D. To devise, promote and ensure compliance and progress with local E&D frameworks. To scrutinise and challenge the progress being made against the local E&D frameworks. Offer consistent and positive messages about E&D and the business benefits. Invest in a culture of E&D and make it part of Orbit s core business. Share good practice in terms of E&D gained outside of Orbit. Role of Group Executive Team and Group Leadership Team Provide both a strategic and operational focus / consideration of E&D Provide report to Boards / Senior Management Teams on progress against local E&D frameworks Invest in the Group s commitment to E&D identify areas within our business plans that require a consideration of E&D. Ensure board reports provide appropriate and adequate reference to E&D. Acts as a communication link and share good practice throughout the Group in terms of E&D. Make E&D part of our core business. Seek to grow your own understanding of E&D in terms of good practice / legislation / regulation in both employment and the provision of services. Coordinate and review EIAs, policy feedback, performance monitoring, benchmarking across the Group. Provide challenge and offer solutions where on our journey from good to great we need to do better. Role of Group E&D Advisor Advisory training / sharing good practice / legal and regulatory updates / policy reviews / support E&D forums / working with partners (contractors) to embed E&D. Consultative service reviews / equality impact assessment support / support the involvement of customers, residents and other partners to shape delivery / undertake projects to support development of Equality and Diversity agenda. Internal challenge review and report to the Orbit Group Board on the operation of the Group E&D framework / undertake an annual compliance check / providing and evaluating Internal and external benchmarking information / undertake or support E&D self assessments on behalf of group members / access and provide monitoring information in accordance with the Group Framework. 8

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