The Committee considered the following report:
“1.0 Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues
1.1 To agree the budget and appropriate resources for the implementation of the Gender Action Plan (GAP) and LGBT+ Action Plan Year 2 activities.
2.1 The Committee is asked to
· Agree the proposed diversity action plans and associated year 2 costs.
3.0 Main report
3.1 Our Equality and Diversity Framework outlines how we will tackle inequalities and promote diversity in our city. It is built around four key priorities:
A. Leadership, partnership and organisational commitment
B. Understanding our communities through data and consultation
C. Delivering services accessible to all
D. Developing a skilled and diverse workforce
3.2 The Framework includes a series of actions to be delivered to help achieve these priorities and under Priority A, Leadership, Partnership and Organisational Commitment, the Council has committed to developing and delivering a Gender Action Plan, LGBT+ Action Plan and a Race Action Plan.
3.3 At its meeting on 10 May 2021, Women’s Steering Group agreed a three-year GAP for delivery between April 2021 to March 2024. Year 2 of the current GAP has been costed and is being presented to Committee for approval. In addition, HR has developed a three-year LGBT+ Action Plan for 2021-24, in collaboration with the LGBT+ staff network and this is also being presented, with costs for year 2, for approval.
Gender Action Plan (GAP)
3.4 Gender inequalities are deeply embedded in our social, economic and cultural systems. There is overwhelming evidence that women disproportionately experience disadvantage and discrimination, a reflection of historical unaddressed inequality, but also that inequalities have been exacerbated by austerity, welfare reform and by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Statistics affirm the persistence of gendered inequalities, which continue to inhibit women’s life opportunities in Northern Ireland. Men will benefit from gender equality as they too face gender-specific issues such as lower life expectancy, bad health, lower education levels and are impacted negatively by rigid gender norms.
3.5 The GAP (21-24) was agreed by the Council in July 21 following consultation with Women’s Steering Group (WSG) the Women’s Network and the wider group of staff that attended a Gender Inequalities workshop in January 2021.
3.6 Year 1 achievements / projects delivered include:
· Delivering of various virtual development and awareness raising events and workshops to mark and celebrate International Women’s Day
· Funding provided for external International Women’s Day event in city centre
· Participation in the NI Gender Diversity Charter assessment- first public sector organisation in NI to achieve Silver level accreditation
· Gender Identity and Expression Guidance developed and implemented
· Developed a Menopause Policy and Guidance
· Onus Domestic Violence Charter (employer award) – retained Platinum level
· Onus Safe City Accreditation - retained
· Ongoing support for the Raise Your Voice Project to help address misogyny, sexual harassment and violence
3.7 Our joint elected member and senior officer Women Leaders’ Programme is also due to commence in June, continuing to October 2022.
LGBT+ Action Plan
3.8 The LGBT+ Action Plan (21-24) was agreed by the Council in July 21 following consultation with the Proud Staff Network and senior LGBT+ champions. The plan for year 2 (attached at Appendix Two) sets out our proposed activity and costs. It has been developed to ensure that our organisational culture and working environment allows staff to feel comfortable to be their whole selves at work and that policies and practices empower talent development at all levels and the removal of any form of discrimination. It also aims to increase the understanding of the wider workforce of issues facing the LGBT+ communities.
3.9 Year 1 achievements / projects delivered include:
· LGBT+ inclusion and awareness training
· Specific LGBT+ awareness training for senior leaders
· Trans awareness training
· Bi identity awareness training
· Mental Health First Aid for Proud network members
· Development and implementation of Gender Identity and Expression Guidance
· Continued promotion, visibility and growth of staff network
· New senior champion identified– profiled on staff intranet
· Staff and family Pride Walk
· The display of Rainbow and Trans flags and lighting up of City Hall.
· Achieved Gold Award in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index
Disability Action Plan
3.10 CMT should also note that the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (‘DDA’) Section 49 requires the Council to have due regard to the need to promote positive attitudes towards disabled persons, and to the need to encourage participation by disabled persons in public life. The Equality and Diversity Unit is in the process of reviewing and revising the Disability Action Plan.
Race Action Plan
3.11 It was recently agreed to appoint the Director of City & Organisational Strategy as a Race Champion to lead a Race Equality and Diversity Action Group and oversee the development of a Race Action Plan. This work will review how we deliver our services and actions that we can take as an employer to create a more diverse workforce, and as a city leader, to influence and bring about change.
3.12 It has also been agreed that the Council signs up to the Business in the Community initiative ‘Race at Work Charter’ to learn from best practice and gain support in developing our approach, agreeing actions and setting achievable goals and targets. The first meeting of the Race Equality and Diversity Action Group will take place in the coming weeks.
Financial and Resource Implications
3.13 The cost of delivery of the proposed Gender Action Plan year 2 activities is estimated at £48 000. Please note this includes previously approved activity carried over from 2021/22 which could not be progressed because of the pandemic. The cost of delivery of the LGBT+ Action Plan year 2 is estimated at £9700. Both plans will be met from the existing Organisational Development budget.
3.14 The plan also identifies the role that individual business units and departments have in delivery of the plan.
Equality or Good Relations Implications/
Rural Needs Assessment
3.15 The delivery of the Gender and the LGBT+ Action Plans will result in positive outcomes. The promotion of equality and diversity entails more than the elimination of discrimination, it requires proactive action. The actions contained within both plans will not only impact on internal operations but also have a positive impact externally on women and men and the LGBT+ community in our city.”
The Committee approved the diversity action plans and associated year 2 costs.