Gender equality duties
The requirement to have a gender equality scheme came in to force on 30 April. It completes the establishment of the equality duties in three areas: race, disability and gender. The duty to produce a race equality scheme came into force in May 2002 and the equivalent disability duty in December 2006.
The 'general duties' of all three share a requirement to eliminate unlawful discrimination and promote equality of opportunity. They also require as a 'specific duty' the preparation of equality schemes.
Codes of practice containing helpful, detailed advice on the duties and how to prepare the schemes are published by the Commission for Racial Equality (www.cre.gov.uk), the Disability
Rights Commission (www.drc-gb.org) and the Equal Opportunities Commission (www.eoc.org.uk).
Since the main elements of equality schemes are common to all three, members may want to consider writing a single scheme that covers all three.
Equality schemes should include the following elements:
statement of commitment to equality
identification of key success factors (eg commitment from leadership)
objectives for future performance: eg the proportion of women in senior posts, the achievement of black boys of Caribbean heritage
an account of consultations undertaken: users in the relevant category, organisations representing users, relevant employees, unions
an action plan including: actions to be taken (including adjustments, advertising, training), monitoring processes, and arrangements to assess impact (including consulting)
There is also a requirement for an annual progress report. This may be a report to governors but must be advertised as available under the Freedom of Information Act. The scheme must be revised every three years in light of progress made.
This duty applies to all public authorities including maintained schools, FE colleges and probably schools created by legislation (eg academies). Other schools may find it prudent to comply as good employers.
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