Equality and Diversity Policy

1. Purpose

Shropshire Rural Housing Association (SRHA) is committed to providing equality of opportunity and treatment for all, respecting the needs of all residents, partners and other stakeholders in both service delivery and employment.  We are committed to embedding diversity into the core of business operations to ensure that nobody applying for housing, employment or otherwise contracting with us will be discriminated against due to their race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender re-assignment, marital or civil partnership, disability or age.  We will apply these principles in carrying out our activities and will seek to apply them to work undertaken for us by external contractors and organisations working in partnership with us.

2. Legislative Framework

The Association aims to ensure that we meet our obligations and responsibilities both as an employer and as a service provider as set out in the relevant statutory frameworks.  As an employer, we are committed to ensuring that all relevant statutes, statutory instruments and EU directives are adhered to; including but not limited to the Equal Pay Act 1970, Sex Discrimination Act 1975, Race Relations Act 1976 – as amended by the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and Equality Act 2006.

3. Implementation of the Policy

3.1       The Association will appoint and maintain a Board with experience, knowledge and understanding of the needs of the communities that it serves.  The Board and any delegated sub-Committees have a responsibility to ensure that both employment and service delivery take Equality and Diversity aims and commitments into account when making decisions.

3.2       The Association’s management team has a responsibility for ensuring that this policy underpins all aspects of our operation; informing decision making and recommendations.

3.3       All employees have a responsibility to uphold and promote the principles of this policy and, when carrying out their respective roles and duties, to ensure the principles are put into practice.

3.4       Shropshire Rural Housing Association is an equal opportunities employer and seeks to ensure, within the framework of the law, that our workplace is free from discrimination.  We aim to ensure that staff achieve their full potential and that all employment decisions are taken without reference to discriminatory criteria.

3.5       It is our policy to comply with and work within the spirit and detail of the Equality Act 2010.  Therefore, no person employed by the Association or working on our behalf shall be permitted to discriminate against an individual or group on any of the following grounds: age, disability, gender re-assignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.

To achieve its aims, Shropshire Rural Housing Association commits to the following:

3.5.1    To ensure that the principles of this policy are embedded in all policies and procedures of the Association.

3.5.2    To provide awareness training and guidance to all members and employees of the Association, to ensure our commitment to equality and diversity is known and understood.

3.5.3    To make all contractors working on behalf of Shropshire Rural Housing Association aware of this policy.

3.5.4    To monitor and measure diversity at various stages of employment so as to remove any associative or perceptive discrimination defined by the 2010 Act.

3.5.5    To monitor and measure the profile of our customers to ensure our services are delivered fairly and meet the needs of our internal and external communities.

3.5.6    To challenge and investigate discriminatory behaviour and enforce the Disciplinary Policy where necessary.

3.5.7    To follow best practice at all times.

3.5.8    To communicate to colleagues, tenants and other stakeholders, and review regularly, the initiatives which have been implemented

3.5.9    To work with external groups and advisory bodies to keep up to date with practice and how issues are dealt with.

3.5.10  To ensure that recruitment and employment decisions are made on the basis of fair and objective criteria.

3.6       Every individual is responsible for their own behaviour and actions.  All employees and others working for us through contracting arrangement must abide by the policy and live its principles in their day-to-day work.  Individuals must ensure that they do not support or condone unfair or exclusive behaviour by ignoring what they see, nor must they incite or collude with others in unfair behaviour or actions

3.7       A breach of this policy is a serious disciplinary matter and may be dealt with under our Disciplinary Policy.

3.8       The Chief Executive has overall responsibility for making sure that commitments of this Policy are fulfilled.

3.9       The Board of the Association are responsible for ensuring this policy is implemented and complied with and for leading by example in promoting Shropshire Rural Housing Association.

4. Monitoring

4.1       Shropshire Rural Housing Association collects information with regard to sex, marital or civil partnership status, age, disability, gender re-assignment, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, sexual orientation and religion or belief for monitoring purposes to ensure this Policy is working effectively

4.2       The information we collect is used only for monitoring purposes and for improving our performance in respect of Equality and Diversity.  We hold and process all details in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and, from 25th May 2018, with the General Protection Regulations (GDPR).

4.3       Data on the allocation of the Association’s homes will be submitted to the Regulator of Social Housing’s Continuous  Reporting System (CORE) and the annual summary on allocations will be circulated to the Board of the Association.

4.4       The Association will look to accommodate the employment needs of staff and Board Members whose work is affected by a disability or special requirement.  The annual appraisal process will provide an opportunity to identify any unmet needs and ensure steps are taken to accommodate those needs if appropriate.

5. Communicating the Policy

All staff will be introduced to the Policy and their rights and responsibilities under it.

6. Complaints

6.1       Any tenant or nominee for housing who feels their application has been unfairly dealt with shall have the right to make a formal complaint to Shropshire Rural Housing Association using our Complaints Procedure.

6.2       If an employee or prospective employee feels they have been treated unfairly they Should raise their complaint using the Grievance Policy and Procedure.

7. Conclusion

As a specialist rural housing organisation, we will interpret this policy alongside our key activity of providing housing for local households in rural communities. Because of the specialist nature of our aims, we recognise that this will impact on the way we compare with sector partners.  Nevertheless, we are committed to the principles of Equality and Diversity.