Equalities & diversity
An introduction to Equalities and Diversity
‘Equalities and diversity’ can all too often be one of those phrases that is an ‘add on’ to a report, policy or programme, or is to be found in documents that ‘sit on shelves’!
According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, “The promotion of equality and human rights is a task for everyone in society. Businesses, employers, education centres, public authorities and service providers have specific responsibilities to their staff, customers and those under their care”. They provide practical information for all kinds of organisations to help them meet their duties and promote fairness and dignity in their respective areas of work.
However, we recognise that even if we believe in ‘equality’ it’s not always easy to understand what is needed and how to make sure that we are ‘fair’ and just.
Our perspective on Equalities and Diversity
changes recognises that although this can be a complex area – meaning different things to different people – depending who they are, what context they are working in, what interest they have in promoting ‘equality’- it is essential that we all work from a position that believes in and promotes ‘social justice’, that recognises human rights and encourages the exploration of these issues
As changes we have worked on specific ‘equality’ areas – most recently on issues around women and involvement in all aspects of community and public life. Over the years we have worked on a whole range of issues that impact particularly on specific groups.
We believe that one way of helping this process is by focusing on the values and principles of community development, as outlined in CDX statement on community development and, in particular the underlying values of:
‘social justice’ which is about ‘enabling people to claim their human rights, meet their needs and have greater control over the decision-making processes which affect their lives’, and
‘equality’ – challenging the attitudes of individuals, and the practices of institutions and society, which discriminate against and marginalise people
It is important to acknowledge that ‘power’ plays a part in how things are and that being transparent about who has access to ‘power’ in different circumstances – who has access to resources, who is making the decisions, who is benefiting and who is losing – is an important part of working towards social justice and inclusion.
Social justice is about changing systems and shaping cultures in a way that will guarantee full citizenship, creating ‘a just and fair society with freedom and equal opportunities for all in terms of: liberty, opportunity, income, wealth and self-respect’. It is about enabling people to claim their human rights: legal, political, civil, social, economic and environmental, to meet their needs and have greater control over the decision-making processes which affect their lives. The concept of social justice highlights barriers to full citizenship through inequality: restricted access to employment, goods and services; under-representation in political, economic and community decision making; marginalisation in society; segregation; direct discrimination; harassment, intimidation and violence.
Diversity and equality
Our approach is underpinned by the recognition that our society is not equal in terms of money, capital, education, prospects, environments, employment, health and so on. As well as these tangible aspects of inequality, there exists a range of stereotypes and prejudices that result in discrimination of individuals, groups and communities, which further limit their share of the country’s resources and which can have a negative effect on people’s self-esteem, confidence and general well-being. Such discrimination can be about race, colour, gender, disability, appearance, religion/beliefs, sexuality, and poverty. We have a particular interest in gender and active citizenship.