Part 3: Managing equalities within the council
Every member of staff has responsibilities for delivering equalities actions.
The communities committee is involved in the production of equalities policies on behalf of the council, and monitors their delivery on behalf of the council.
The chief executive officer (CEO) and communities committee have overall responsibility for equalities, and fulfil leadership functions both internally and externally.
The director of environment and community services who is the corporate champion for equality and diversity supports the CEO and communities committee. This post holder provides internal and external leadership and raises equality issues at the chief officers management team (COMT).
The head of safe and strong communities chairs the equality and diversity action team (EDAT) and has an active involvement in the South Gloucestershire equalities forum (SGEF)10.
Each service retains responsibility for meeting its equality responsibilities. However the council provides extensive guidance and support to them in doing this through EDAT. EDAT is made up of senior departmental equality and diversity representatives, a senior member of the audit team, the corporate equalities officers and other officers of the council as deemed appropriate by the group. Representatives of the council’s employee Equalities groups also form the EDAT employee subgroup and raise issues and provide feedback to EDAT.
EDAT meets at least every three months to provide strategic direction, guidance and performance management to members, departments and partners on equality and diversity issues, as well as discuss and act on equality and diversity issues within the authority and partnerships. EDAT is therefore the mechanism for driving, monitoring and evaluating progress; promoting best practice across the authority and partnerships; and provides general advice and guidance to members and staff on equality and diversity matters
The members of EDAT feed back to the departmental equality and diversity working groups within each department. These departmental working groups ensure that the corporate equality commitments are translated into action and therefore are tasked with devising and delivering equalities outcomes for customers and staff. These working groups also provide two-way communication on equalities issues between customer facing staff and corporate centre through EDAT.
EDAT is supported in its work by two specialists. One of these has an internal focus and has responsibility for co-ordinating the day-to-day running of the equality plan and reporting on the progress of the equality plan which assists EDAT and the communities committee with their monitoring functions. Reports are available for council and public scrutiny.
The second officer, the equalities co-ordinator, has an external facing role, which entails assisting community groups and individuals to have voice and influence within the council. The equalities co-ordinator is also the council’s link to the SGEF which brings together statutory and voluntary partners to share their equality experience and knowledge and collaborate on specific initiatives.
The SGEF brings together representatives from different equality groups to highlight areas of concern and bring them to the attention of the council and its partners in order that they can be addressed.
To ensure the development of policies and practices that are meaningful to people from all communities, EDAT calls upon advisors with the relevant expertise.
Mandatory equalities training is in place for all staff, including for all councillors. Plans are in place to develop this training into a comprehensive refreshed package of training for all during 2016.
Each year every council service analyses its performance against the agreed corporate objectives, and establishes priorities to be addressed over the next 12 months. The results of their work is reported within the published annual equalities report, together with the next year’s priorities.
10 For further information, visit: http://www.southglos.gov.uk/community-and-living/equality-and-diversity/south-gloucestershire-equalities-forum/