Equality, Diversity and Highlands and Islands Enterprise a framework for action

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1 Equality, Diversity and Highlands and Islands Enterprise a framework for action November

2 Contents Page No. 1. Introduction 3 2. Scope and aims of the framework 4 3. What equality and diversity mean for HIE 4 4. The business benefits of equality and diversity 5 5. Leadership and Accountability 6 6. Equality Outcomes 7 7. Corporate Planning, Measurement and Reporting 8 8. Guiding Principles 8 9. HIE s Equality and Diversity Plan Where to find out more 11 Cover photos Development of the industry-led skills academy at Nigg Members of the North Harris Trust A researcher at the Scottish Association of Marine Sciences Celebrating communities and culture in the Highlands and Islands November

3 1 Introduction Alex Paterson, Chief Executive We want the Highlands and Islands to be a highly successful and competitive region in which increasing numbers of people choose to live, work, study and invest. As an economic and community development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise s (HIE) influence will help ensure that sustainable economic growth also achieves equality for the people who live and work in our communities. This framework demonstrates how we take into account the needs of the diverse range of people affected by our functions, reflecting changing needs and the prevailing economic climate. It demonstrates, in relation to equality, our sharp focus on outcomes and impact as set out in our Operating Plan. It also supports the Government Economic Strategy s National Outcomes which seek to tackle the significant inequalities in Scottish society and to achieve a strong, fair and inclusive national identity. It illustrates how we comply with the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 through implementation of the public sector equality duty. This framework sets out what we aim to achieve, why it is important to us and how we can address inequalities and disadvantage experienced by the people of the Highlands and Islands. Addressing inequality is an important ingredient in promoting and sustaining growth: increasing the participation rates and earnings of women in the workplace will help narrow the gender pay gap supporting the development of the University of the Highlands and Islands will provide the educational opportunities which our young people need to help stem a pattern of out-migration increasing access to broadband brings public services such as tele-health care into our communities, particularly beneficial to those in remote, sparsely populated areas. Initiatives such as these ensure a skilled workforce relevant to our businesses. They contribute to the growth of vibrant and sustainable communities. Crucially, they strengthen the role of the people of the Highlands and Islands in contributing to the growth of our region. November

4 2. Scope and aims of the framework Equality, Diversity and Highlands and Islands Enterprise a framework for action sets out our strategic approach to advancing equality and promoting diversity in the delivery of all of our functions; the services we deliver, procurement of services and as an employer. We aim to maximise the benefits of considering equality and diversity in our engagement with businesses, with communities and within our own workforce. HIE s employment Equality and Diversity Policy explains further our approach as an employer and can be found at The framework outlines :- what we aim to achieve, articulated as equality outcomes for the people of the Highlands and Islands the principles underlying delivery of the outcomes the steps we will take to achieve them - our equality and diversity plan We also contribute to equality outcomes developed jointly with partner agencies as well as delivering generic work which advances equality and promotes diversity. We seek to influence national policy on equality and diversity through engagement with the Scottish Government, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and initiatives such as Close the Gap, which works to eliminate the gender pay gap in Scotland. The framework takes into account and supports the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 and the associated Public Sector Equality Duties as well as the Human Rights Act 1998 which places on all public authorities an obligation to ensure that people's rights are respected in all that they do. This framework will be reviewed from time to time, in light of demographic, political and legislative changes to ensure that it remains relevant and proportionate. 3. What equality and diversity mean for HIE Equality and diversity are inter-related but address different aspects of the way we view and deal with people. Equality Equality is founded on fairness. For example employment and services should be accessible without discrimination on the grounds of personal characteristics such as race, gender or age. This is not just about avoiding overt discrimination but includes eliminating barriers, however inadvertent, which systematically make it more difficult for some people to participate than others. These could be structural barriers such as transport or language or access to the labour market, or social barriers such as attitudes. November

5 Failure to address disadvantage denies people access to the full participation in social, political, economic and cultural life which others take for granted. For example this is evidenced in low economic activity rates for disabled people and the disproportionately low representation of young female engineers in the renewable energy sector. Equality is not about treating everyone the same, but about delivering functions in a way which increases participation so that everyone can experience a positive outcome. Diversity Diversity takes this a step further. Diversity describes and values our differences so that they can enrich our communities and workforce. These differences may be visible or non-visible, such as gender, physical and mental ability, race, sexual identity or economic status. This also includes cultural and linguistic diversity which is richly represented in the Highlands and Islands. Such differences result in a mosaic of experiences, values and beliefs as well as ways of thinking, working and communicating. Valuing diversity helps us understand and respect differences in a way which helps us stimulate innovation and maximise talent. 4. The business and economic benefits of equality and diversity Treating people with dignity and respect is generally accepted as the right thing to do and complying with legislation avoids the financial and reputational damage of litigation. However, managing diversity is important not just because it is morally and legally right but because it makes business and economic sense. The economic case for equality is compelling - the UK currently has a high level of income inequality and evidence indicates that highly unequal countries tend to grow more slowly. Reaching diverse communities can result in new opportunities, exploring fresh perspectives and drawing on new ideas. HIE s involvement with Vertex s 2010 home-working pilot in Ross-shire illustrates how HIE has worked with the business community to realise these benefits. Developing an alternative model of delivery in the contact centre sector resulted in business, economic development and personal benefits for those involved. HIE continues to promote the growth of homeworking as a means of opening up high value opportunities, particularly in rural locations, which contribute to economic growth. November

6 Vertex and homeworking HIE assisted Vertex to explore the potential of homeworking in the Financial and Business Services sector, which resulted in the employment of a range of people remote from the traditional labour market ; male and female carers, people who have a disability and those relying on rural transport. Recruiting home-workers gave Vertex access to a suitably qualified and previously untapped labour force not attracted to traditional contact centre based work. Productivity and quality indicators for home-workers proved to be above average for Vertex staff, with a higher retention rate. Consequently the pilot identified home-working as a practical and cheaper delivery option for Vertex s contact centre function, increasing Vertex s competitive advantage. It also opened up high value and sustainable employment opportunities for people disengaged from the labour market as well as helping break down barriers to employment experienced by those with caring responsibilities, disability or childcare demands. As well as impacting positively on businesses and the workforce such initiatives strengthen communities, enabling people to work and live within their local area, reducing the need for commuting and providing associated environmental benefits. 5. Leadership and Accountability Creating and promoting a culture which challenges and eliminates discrimination and disadvantage and which values diversity requires clear and consistent messages about the significance of equality and of diversity in the work we carry out. Such leadership provides the vision, commitment and motivation which sanctions day to day delivery of HIE s functions in a way which integrates equality and diversity in our work. HIE Board This framework has been endorsed by the HIE Board, demonstrating that equality and diversity and the principles underpinning them are central to all of HIE s functions. November

7 Leadership team HIE s leadership team has endorsed the framework, providing demonstrable leadership for its principles and the commitments required to deliver the associated equality and diversity plan. The leadership team, and each Director or Head of Service individually, has responsibility for translating the plan into operational activity, mainstreaming equality activity throughout all of HIE s functions as well as ensuring that all employees have access to relevant training. Equality and Diversity Board The framework was developed by HIE s Equality and Diversity Board, whose members are drawn from across HIE s functions. The Board leads on and drives HIE s strategic approach to equality and diversity, identifying and promoting the economic, business and social benefits of equality and diversity for HIE and for the businesses and communities of the Highlands and Islands. Equality Advisory Panel Feedback from HIE s Equality Advisory Panel, currently being established, will enable us to improve the quality and effectiveness of our functions, reducing inequalities, however inadvertent, which may be identified in the delivery of our functions. The panel will comprise individuals and agencies who represent peoples views and experiences in relation to all of the protected characteristics set out in the Equality Act 2010, as well as business and community representative bodies. Equalities Manager HIE s Equalities Manager has responsibility for providing specialist advice and guidance to HIE s Board and Leadership Team to ensure legislative compliance as well as reinforcing the principles underlying this framework. The Equalities Manager also provides support to HIE s Equality and Diversity Board and Equality Advisory Panel as well as assisting with mainstreaming equality and diversity across all of HIE s functions. Human Resources HIE s HR team helps translate business requirements into a people agenda, supporting staff and working with key stakeholders to ensure that successful organisational change takes account of skill requirements, behaviour change, staff involvement, engagement and communication. Human resources planning and utilisation aims to create a working environment where staff resources are aligned to deliver HIE s priorities, where there is increased flexibility, transparency and simplicity in workforce planning and the allocation of resources and where the sharing of skills, knowledge and experience is supported and facilitated. Managers and Employees Implementing this framework effectively depends on all HIE employees understanding and applying its key principles. It is the responsibility of all HIE employees to apply the underlying principles in the delivery of their role, and of managers to provide associated support to their teams. November

8 6. Equality Outcomes Equality outcomes have the purpose of furthering one or more of the public sector general equality duties :- to eliminate unlawful conduct such as discrimination, victimisation or harassment; to advance equality of opportunity across protected characteristics; to foster good relations across protected characteristics. HIE s equality outcomes will be published by 30 April Equality outcomes must be relevant and of value to those who are affected by their achievement and they are being developed in conjunction with the Equality Advisory Panel, HIE employees and others who can provide feedback to ensure that they are effective in delivering the public sector duty in relation to HIE s functions. In addition HIE subscribes to the development of equality outcomes in partnership with other agencies, demonstrating the value of integrated public service provision. 7. Corporate Planning, Measurement and Reporting Achieving equality and realising the business and social benefits of diversity are integral to our delivery of the Government Economic Strategy, resulting in positive changes in outcomes for the diverse range of people of the Highlands and Islands HIE s equality outcomes are integrated into our corporate planning and reporting mechanisms and it is our aim to develop over time specific performance measures for equality and diversity. These will assist us in understanding progress we are making in delivering change for the people of the Highlands and Islands. 8. Guiding Principles Achieving equality and maximising the benefits of diversity in the delivery of all of HIE s functions contributes to economic growth. This helps us realise benefits for the businesses of the Highlands and Islands as well as building community cohesion. HIE s approach in achieving this can be illustrated by a range of guiding principles. Legislation The Equality Act 2010 strengthens the ways in which we are all protected from discrimination, both in employment and in the provision of goods and services. The Act goes further, ensuring that public bodies take a proactive role in advancing equality. HIE is committed to delivering our functions in a way which maximises the impact we can make through delivery of the public sector equality duty. We also aim to go beyond legislative compliance by considering areas of disadvantage which are not covered by equality legislation but which are equally relevant to the people November

9 of the Highlands and Islands; rurality, use of the Gaelic language and social inclusion, which seeks to increase participation by everyone in our communities. Proportionality and Relevance The general equality duty requires public bodies, including HIE, to pay due regard to the need to :- eliminate unlawful conduct prohibited under the Equality Act 2010 (discrimination, victimisation, harassment) advance equality of opportunity across relevant protected characteristics foster good relations across relevant protected characteristics Due regard means taking a proportionate approach, concentrating activity on those areas of work which have a high relevance for equality. For example if a HIE policy or project is likely to have a significant impact on the employment chances of young people who have been disadvantaged during the recession this activity is highly relevant for equality. The main factor we take into account when considering relevance is the potential impact of the service, project or policy on the lives of the people affected by it. Evidence of disadvantage Understanding disadvantage helps us focus activity on areas where we can make a significant difference. We will continue to build a robust evidence base, relevant to the Highlands and Islands. This involves monitoring our functions and considering qualitative data on the experiences of those with whom we interact as well as utilising local and national statistical data. We recognise that there are significant gaps in evidence both geographically and by equality characteristic and we will endeavour to fill such gaps over time to inform our equality and diversity plan. Involving people Involving people in the development of our equality outcomes ensures that we understand the views and experiences of people whose lives are affected by them. This in turn helps us develop robust and relevant activities which will help realise the best outcomes. We seek the views of our customers, the businesses and communities of the Highlands and Islands, in a variety of ways through community surveys or monitoring our services or initiatives. We also engage with people who experience disadvantage related to the characteristics protected by equality legislation; men and women, younger and older people, people of different races and those who have different abilities, identities and beliefs. This may be by direct involvement in specific initiatives or through our Equality Advisory Panel. Mainstreaming Mainstreaming is not an activity but an approach which ensures that equality and diversity are considered as an intrinsic part of our day to day work. Equality is one of many elements which we consider when determining the best way to develop a policy, or deliver a project. Successful mainstreaming is the consequence of each employee considering and applying the principles of equality and diversity in relation to their own November

10 area of responsibility. It ensures that our services and functions are designed, developed and delivered in a way which is relevant for the people affected by them. Partnership working HIE is committed to working in partnership with other public bodies, third sector agencies and the private sector. This maximises the delivery of consistent and coordinated messages on equality and diversity, increases HIE s influencing role and realises economies of scale in the use of resources. Transparency We aim to be open and transparent in the delivery of the programme of work which supports our equality outcomes. This framework sets out our approach; our equality outcomes define what we wish to achieve; our equality and diversity plan sets out activity which will help us achieve the outcomes; and our corporate reporting describes progress we have made. Positive Action Where there is evidence of disadvantage HIE may choose to take positive action in delivery of our functions. For example in relation to HIE s employment, we guarantee a job interview to external candidates who have a disability and who meet essential job criteria. This recognises that our employee monitoring shows that disabled people are under-represented in our workforce. Overcoming disadvantage Debate around the medical and social models of disability informs our thinking on how to overcome disadvantage. HIE subscribes to the social model of disability which asserts that a person is disabled not by a medical condition, but by barriers which they face in seeking to participate in activities which others take for granted. Barriers for disabled people generally fall into three categories :- environment including inaccessible buildings and services attitudes stereotyping, discrimination and prejudice organisations inflexible policies, practices and procedures Using the social model of disability helps identify how to overcome the barriers experienced by people who have a disability. This encourages the removal of barriers within society, or the reduction of their effects. The social model empowers disabled people and encourages society to be more inclusive and it is the model preferred by disabled people. 9. HIE s Equality and Diversity Plan Once HIE s equality outcomes have been established we will develop an Equality and Diversity Plan to set out the key areas we will address in order to achieve the outcomes. The plan will provide direction to enable those responsible for each function to determine November

11 underlying actions which are realistic, relevant and ambitious, consistent with the principles and aims of the equality and diversity framework. The plan will also identify the Senior Responsible Office who has ownership of each action and the timescale within which activity will take place. November

12 10. Where to find out more You can find out more about equality and diversity and Highlands and Islands Enterprise from the following sources :- HIE s website Liz Scott, HIE s Equalities Manager by post at Cowan House, Inverness Retail and Business Park, Inverness, IV2 7GF by at by phone on You can find out more about equality and diversity in general from :- Equality and Human Rights Commission website - by phone - Equality, Advisory and Support Service website - Equality, Advisory and Support Service - by textphone: - Equality, Advisory and Support Service by from website Scottish Human Rights Commission website - by phone by ; Scottish Government website - by post - Equality and Communities Division, Scottish Government, Area 2G South, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ by telephone or (for UK local rate) This document can be accessed online at If you wish this publications in an alternative format please contact Liz Scott, HIE s Equalities Manager as detailed above November

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