Blog: Putting Policy into Practice

Introducing Section 2 of ‘Beyond Protected Characteristics’

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been releasing resources in the first Section of our new series: ‘Beyond Protected Characteristics: The Equality Act (2010) in practice.’  This week we launch Section 2: Putting Policy Into Practice.

Section 1 looked in detail at the Equality Act, the Protected Characteristics and how the Act can inform how we develop Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) policies.

Section 2 launches this week with a focus on ‘Putting Policy into Practice’.  Over the next month we’ll be publishing case studies that highlight the different ways that the Equality Act and EDI policies can be brought to life in the day-to-day.  Our first two case studies are online now and the full set will be released over the next few weeks, including:

 

  • Adaptive Policy-Making: BAVS’ Menopause Policy
  • Equitable Workforce Development: Learnings from Young Women Code (YWM)
  • Inclusion in Practice: LGBT Youth Scotland’s LGBT Charter
  • Supporting Diversity on Boards: SYP’s Youth-Led Decision-Making
  • Tools for Accessibility: VIAS’ Support for Staff with Learning Disabilities

 

These five case studies will provide inspiration for anyone looking to apply a human rights and equalities first approach to their organisation’s policies and processes in a way that feels meaningful and relevant.

 

Below are just a few of the things that stood out to us from the case studies:

  • Avoid generic ‘copy and paste’ policies that don’t really consider staff needs
    Templates may be handy places to start from however the specific needs and circumstances of your organisation aren’t going to be reflected in text that’s been written to be as universal as possible. Take the time to understand what the people that you support and who work for you are really looking for and how your policy will help them, don’t create a policy just to tick a box and then be filed away without being looked at again.
  • Small steps can make a big difference
    Taking a human rights and equalities first approach can sometimes feel like a huge task that requires a lot of work but we’ve actually found that small changes can go a long way and sometimes make the biggest difference. For example, just thinking about your office space you could look at what applications / software you use or the way you communicate internally. Making sure you can adjust the temperature in the office or simply writing down how to use applications in a clear way can make a big difference to some people – you can find out why in our case studies!
  • Changes often help more than just the intended group
    Greater accessibility often goes beyond helping the initial group of people you are thinking about. If we take ramps for example, not only is this great for wheelchair users but it makes your organisation more accessible for those with prams, small children, those who use walking aids, visually impaired people and even people delivering large/bulky goods to your office – the list could go on and on but in general, accessibility for some leads to accessibility for all.
  • Intersectionality has a big part to play in understanding needs
    People rarely fit into just one protected characteristic box, so your policies and processes shouldn’t either. We focused on one specific characteristic for each of the case studies for this section as we intend to talk about intersectionality more deeply in the final section of the series, however it was hard to find examples that didn’t highlight the role of intersectionality in some way. Our case studies from BAVS and Young Women’s Movement both focus on sex however there is a clear difference in the experiences of older women and younger women in these two cases. Thinking intersectionally is not just a bonus but a necessity.
  • There is so much good practice across the sector
    Our case studies showcase five organisations however, we found during our research that there were many, many more instances of good practice out there. If you think your organisation is doing something that would fit with our series, please tell us! Learning from each other and sharing stories of success is key to making the third sector a place for everyone to thrive in.

 

We would like to thank Berwickshire Association for the Voluntary Services (BAVS), Young Women’s Movement (YWM), LGBT Youth Scotland, the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) and Values into Action Scotland (VIAS), for their invaluable contributions to this series.

You can view our Beyond Protected Characteristics series here.