Thursday, June 12, 2008

Olmec Publishes "A Guide to Equality And Diversity In The Third Sector"

I'm getting old and everyone says as you grow older you get more conservative.  I wonder if most people's collective repulsion of the California's proposed diversity mandate is just the result of us all getting old and conservative.  After all, people interested in nonprofit stuff are usually sort of counter-culturalist and yet most us think the very idea of requiring the watchdogs to adhere to the same mandates they happily advocate for others is suddenly the worst idea ever.  Maybe our age and our transition into the "establishment" has blinded us to things that need to be seen. Or maybe the California bill is just crazy.  Anyway, Olmec, a UK nonprofit organization, recently published "A Guide To Equality and Diversity in The Third Sector." Here is an excerpt from the publication:

The legal context

Over the past forty years there have been moves to tackle discrimination and endemic inequality through legislation. In the 1970s, Britain implemented a range of equality laws, including the Equal Pay Act 1970, the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Race Relations Act 1976. The first Disability Discrimination Act came into effect in 1995. However, these laws did not lead to rapid change that resulted in equality for everyone. In part, this was because few people understood how to bring about effective change that would eliminate unlawful discrimination.Amendments to equality legislation have helped to increase the impact of Britain’s equality laws. Statutory general and specific duties require over 43,000 UK public bodies and some third sector organisations to actively promote race, disability and gender equality. Legislation has continued to evolve and address areas previously not covered. For example, Parts 2 and 3 of the Equality Act 2006 came into force, which prohibit organisations from unlawful discrimination on grounds of religion and belief, and sexual orientation, when providing goods, facilities and services. Most recently, the Government is proposing a Single Equalities Act for Great Britain which it hopes will produce a more streamlined legislative framework. This should result in greater clarity and better outcomes for those experiencing discrimination. The third sector has played an active part in the consultation on the Discrimination Law Review, the Government’s consultation that will lead to the creation of a Single Equality Bill. Third sector organisations have come together to ensure that the provisions in the proposed Act are stronger than those proposed in the Discrimination Law Review. The equalities landscape has further changed since the setting up of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in 2007. This commission replaces the work of the legacy Commissions (Commission for Racial Equality, Equal Opportunities Commission and the Disability Rights Commission) and has responsibility for the other equality areas of human rights, sexual orientation, age, religion and belief. The third sector should make full use of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s extensive online resources. The sector should also respond to all consultation, involvement, grant-making and other opportunities offered by the Commission.

Equality and diversity in the third sector

Alongside this there have been some exciting developments in equalities and diversity within the third sector itself. The National Equality Partnership was awarded funding by Capacitybuilders to deliver the National Support Service in Equalities. It aims to improve support to frontline equality organisations, run by people who experience discrimination and abuse, by supporting equality networks and increasing collaboration between equalities and generalist support providers. They also intend to improve support providers’ abilities to support all frontline organisations on equality, diversity and human rights. Their aim is to give equalities organisations a higher profile within the third sector. With the political, legal and social context relevant to the equalities and diversity agenda continually changing, third sector organisations are challenged with the requirement to keep up with these changes and to ensure that they are delivering best practice. There is no shortage of toolkits and resources that can assist the sector in embedding and delivering best practice in equalities and diversity. However, organisations will need to invest a considerable amount of time to access the plethora of information available.In Olmec’s research Total Equalities System Research Report (Lloyd & Ahmed, 2008) we found a high level of commitment to equalities and diversity in the sector. However, the key barriers to implementing good practice were time and resources. The research found that organisations did not want the production of any more toolkits, nor any other quality standards on equality. What was more important to organisations was assistance in selecting the most appropriate standard and toolkits for their areas of work. Organisations also required assistance in defining what equalities mean for them and how to set equalities targets and performance measurement frameworks. The sector wants better signposting to the available training, support and resources on equalities and diversity that are most relevant to them.


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