Equality & Diversity Policy

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1 Purpose: Author: Department: This document sets out the equality and diversity framework for Viridian Housing. Seema Jassi, Risk and E&D Manager Governance Date: May 2014 Review date: May 2015

2 CONTENTS 1. Related Documents 2 2. Equality and Diversity Policy Statement 2 3. Scope 2 4. Purpose and Principles 3 5. Definitions 3 6. Legal and Regulatory Framework 3 7. Accountability 4 8. Our Equality and Diversity Commitments 5 9. Policy Approval Useful Links 8 Appendix A: Viridian Resident and Workforce Profile 9 1. Related Documents 1.1 Amongst others, this policy should be read in conjunction with the following: Aids and Adaptations Policy and Procedure Anti Social Behaviour Policy and Procedure Child Safeguarding Policy and Procedure Code of Conduct Complaints Policy and Procedure Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure Domestic Violence Policy and Procedure Equality Impact Assessment/Analysis (EqIA) Framework Hate Crime Policy and Procedure New and Expectant Mothers Policy Recruitment and Retention Policy & Procedure Unacceptable Behaviour Policy Vulnerability Policy and Procedure 2. Equality and Diversity Policy Statement 2.1 At Viridian, we believe that equality and diversity are of fundamental importance to the work we do. We believe that everyone deserves to be treated with respect irrespective of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. We treat everyone we house, serve, employ and work with fairly and expect and encourage others to do the same. 3. Scope 3.1 This policy applies to all employees of Viridian Housing as well as Board/Committee members, agency workers and contractors of the organisation. Residents are also covered by this policy in respect of their Page 2 of 9

3 dealings with Viridian and the way they carry out any involvement activities on behalf of and in partnership with the organisation. 4. Purpose and Principles 4.1 This document sets out the equality and diversity strategic aims and objectives for Viridian Housing. We will aspire to embed equality and diversity within all of our business activities to enable these principles to become part of the everyday processes. Viridian recognises the influence it has and its responsibilities as a social housing provider and will adopt good practice to ensure it provides an inclusive experience to everyone. In doing so, we aim to go beyond our legal and regulatory requirements and work to improve the quality of life for our residents and employees, as well as build on our existing services to achieve real social impact. 5. Definitions 5.1 Viridian defines equality and diversity as: Equality a fair society in which everyone is provided with equal opportunity and protection from discrimination. Diversity recognising and valuing the difference both within and between groups of people but also the characteristics that define them as individuals. 6. Legal and Regulatory Framework 6.1 The Equality Act 2010 consolidated all equality legislation with the aim of making this more accessible and easier to understand. The act introduced nine protected characteristics and extended and strengthened the existing legislation to prohibit discrimination, harassment and victimisation on the basis of: Age Disability Gender Reassignment Marriage and Civil Partnership Pregnancy and Maternity Race Religion or Belief Sex Sexual Orientation. 6.2 The Equality Act 2010 also introduced a Public Sector Equality Duty which came into force on 5 April This consists of two parts: (i) The General Equality Duty requires public bodies to: Eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation Advance equality of opportunity Page 3 of 9

4 Foster good relations. (ii) Specific Duties enforced through secondary legislation require public bodies to undertake equality analysis and engage with diverse groups in the delivery and development of policies and services. The specific duty applies to the Homes and Communities Agency and although Viridian is not a public body, it must comply with these obligations in respect of the provision and allocation of social housing. 6.3 Viridian has adopted the National Housing Federation Code of Governance. This stipulates that in addition to the Equality Act 2010, we must ensure that we comply with our policies and procedures relating to equality and diversity, tackle discriminatory behaviours and remove any materials which others may reasonably find offensive. 7. Accountability 7.1 The Governance & Remuneration Committee has delegated authority from the Board for ensuring that Viridian meets its equality and diversity duties and commitments. Viridian has a dedicated Board Equality Champion (Board Chair) to promote equality and diversity across Viridian. The Board and the Governance & Remuneration Committee will receive a six monthly report on progress against the agreed equality and diversity objectives for each financial year and the corresponding action plan. 7.2 The Executive Team is responsible for ensuring that the equality and diversity aims and objectives for Viridian are aligned to the corporate strategy and the organisation s vision for achieving social impact, and for monitoring the implementation of these through quarterly progress reports. Viridian also has an Executive Team Equality Champion (Director of Social Impact). 7.3 The HR Business Partner is responsible for evidencing and developing the equality and diversity framework for the organisation, delivery of the action plan and progress reporting. This programme of work will be overseen by the Head of People. 7.4 The equality and diversity framework within Viridian relies heavily on all employees ensuring that their conduct complies with the policies and procedures in place to support inclusion and increase accessibility across all areas of the organisation. As a charitable, ethical and supportive organisation, it is vital that we comply with the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 and that as employees, we protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of a protected characteristic. Failure to do so may be in breach of the Equality Act 2010 and could result in legal Page 4 of 9

5 action, financial penalties and damage to the reputation of Viridian, not to mention the distress that could be caused to the individual(s) affected. 7.5 An Equality and Diversity Action Group has been established to provide a forum for consulting on new initiatives and provide guidance. This group meets on an ad hoc basis as required. 7.6 Everyone has a responsibility to ensure that they meet the legal duties in terms of equality as a minimum but Viridian also has specific expectations which must be complied with: Everyone who represents Viridian must act as ambassador for the organisation and ensure that they are customer focused, professional and positive, as per the agreed values, and promote equality and diversity at all times. Viridian expects its stakeholders, partners, contractors and visitors to reflect its equality and diversity commitments as outlined in this policy. Inappropriate language or behaviour, discrimination, harassment and victimisation should be challenged if appropriate or reported to your line manager or HR to ensure that appropriate action can be taken. 8. Our Equality and Diversity Commitments 8.1 Viridian will review and agree its equality and diversity objectives on an annual basis to ensure these are relevant, appropriate and achievable in the context of the corporate strategy. The organisation will deliver the equality and diversity action plan and in addition, will continue to fulfil its obligations and adopt good practice to embed equality and diversity across the organisation: Age Viridian will provide appropriate advice and support to its younger and older residents to help them to live independently and to its employees to support them in their work. Viridian does not operate a compulsory retirement age so its employees have more choice about when to stop working Disability Viridian is a two ticks employer and has adopted a proactive approach to employing disabled people by guaranteeing an interview Page 5 of 9

6 to disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for a job vacancy. Viridian became a member of the Business Disability Forum in March 2013 and will work with them to improve accessibility across the organisation. The Viridian Deaf Forum represents the views of Viridian s deaf employees and helps Viridian to improve its services to deaf employees and customers. Viridian will support employees and potential employees to implement any reasonable adjustments to make the workplace more accessible Sexual Orientation and Gender Reassignment Viridian is a Stonewall Diversity Champion and is featured in Stonewall's Starting Out: Lesbian, Gay & Bisexual Careers Guide. Stonewall is a charitable organisation that supports the rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people and ranked Viridian as the 196th best employer for LGB people in England in Viridian will continue to work with Stonewall to increase support to its LGB employees, residents and stakeholders. Viridian has a colleague group (VIP Viridian is Proud) to support its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered staff and ensure the views of the group are reflected across business as appropriate Marriage/Civil Partnership and Pregnancy/Parental Leave Viridian is a family-friendly organisation and will consider all requests for flexible working to encourage individuals to achieve a balance between their home and work life. Viridian will support employees through pregnancy appropriately as well as expectant/adoptive parents before, during and after their return to work Religion or Belief Line managers will accommodate reasonable requests to enable religious observance and annual leave during religious festivals. Wherever possible, Viridian will ensure that work responsibilities and activities do not contravene the religion or belief of its employees and its residents. Page 6 of 9

7 8.1.6 Sex Viridian is committed to supporting equal rights and opportunities for both men and women. Frontline staff have the obligation to see those rights are observed. Viridian is committed to supporting the right of men and women to receive equal pay and carried out an audit to review pay differentials in Salaries for all new jobs are independently benchmarked and spot bonus payments or rewards must be evidenced in terms of business benefits. Frontline staff are trained to see the signs and help men and women experiencing domestic violence. Viridian runs three refuges Race Viridian celebrates diversity and has a zero tolerance approach to discrimination, bullying and harassment. Viridian is committed to ensuring that the BME workforce profile is represented at all levels within the organisation and will work with specialist external organisations where necessary to improve the lives of BME residents and the working environment of BME staff. 8.2 To support these commitments, Viridian will also: Offer equality and diversity training to employees, Board/Committee members, involved residents and relevant stakeholders to increase awareness of their responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 and good practice. Undertake equality analysis (formerly equality impact assessments) to ensure that policies and services do not have a negative or adverse impact on some groups and are fully effective for and can have a positive impact on diverse groups. Ensure the views of residents inform Viridian s decision-making process. Consider the diversity of residents and demand for housing when planning and prioritising housing developments. Explore equality considerations at different stages of the procurement cycle and ask potential suppliers to provide copies of policies on their approach to equality for use as a part of the scoring process. All appropriate contracts will also include equality and diversity commitments. Anticipate and prepare for legislative and regulatory changes which will impact on residents and provide appropriate support. Viridian has recruited a Finance Inclusion Team to provide advice in response to welfare reforms and the introduction of universal credit. Page 7 of 9

8 Tackle hate crime through the Anti-Social Behaviour Team and work in areas with recurring incidents to resolve issues and promote cohesive communities. Continue to deliver specialised evidence-based social impact projects aimed at giving residents the opportunities to make the most of living in a Viridian home with a focus on education, training and employment, health and wellbeing, income and safer communities. Use customer profiling data to provide a tailored service to residents to meet specified need and communicate with them in their preferred way. Analyse the profile of the workforce to increase diversity across under-represented areas. Continue to promote Stonewall and support LGB and transgendered employees, residents and stakeholders as a Stonewall Diversity Champion. 9. Useful Links For further information and guidance, see: Government Equalities Office Equality and Human Rights Commission Business Disability Forum Stonewall 10. Policy Approval Approval Body Date Business Disability Forum 27 August 2013 Stonewall 17 September 2013 Human Resources 4 November 2013 Staff Forum 4 December 2013 Customer Forum 12 March 2014 Executive Team 7 January 2014 Governance & Remuneration Committee 7 May 2014 Page 8 of 9

9 Appendix A: Viridian Resident & Workforce Profile 1. Our Residents 1.1 Viridian provides social housing to over 30,000 residents and has approximately 16,000 homes spanning across London and the south east, the Midlands and West Sussex. Viridian provides a range of housing options to cater for a variety of housing needs, which as well as social housing, includes supported and retirement housing. 1.2 A third of residents belong to a Black or Minority Ethnic (BME) group. This reflects the diverse ethnic population across Viridian s primary areas of operation, as reported through the Census Survey 2011: London 28.59% West Midlands 22.15% and East Midlands 9.20% Although the BME population across West Sussex is slightly lower at 7.11%. 1.3 The customer profiling exercise undertaken in 2009 found that Viridian residents speak 24 different first languages and practice 15 religions. 1.4 Viridian residents are slightly more likely to be female (55%) and the organisation has a predominantly older customer base, with over a third of its residents being over the age of 54. Approximately 14% of our residents have reported that they have a disability. 6% of residents have told us that they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered (LGBT) which is in line with the government estimate for the LGB population in the UK. 2. Our Workforce 1.1 Viridian employs approximately 1100 employees across the regions in which it operates. The organisation is committed to sustaining a diverse workforce and as such, 44% of its employees belong to a BME group. In addition, almost half of employees have reported that they practice a religion % of employees are female, about a third (24%) of whom are in a management position. 38% of employees are male and approximately a third of them (13%) are in a management position. 1.3 Viridian has a very age-diverse workforce as indicated below, 5% of which have reported that they have a disability: Age 19 or less 1% Age 40 to 49-26% Age 20 to 29-13% Age 50 to 59-22% Age 30 to 39-25% Age 60 plus - 9% 1.4 2% of employees have told us that they are lesbian, gay or bisexual. Page 9 of 9

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