Public Authorities will be familiar with ‘digital by default’ or ‘digital by design’ which is about making services so easy to access online that it becomes the natural place for people to go to; a plan of the UK government since 2010. It requires organisations to design communications and customer services around digital access from the start.
The Equality Reference Group request Public Authorities to also apply an ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusion by design’ approach to their work.
Giving due regard to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is fundamental to social and environmental wellbeing, resilience and prosperity for all, it is enshrined in the Public Sector Equality Duties (Equality Act 2010) and should be a core part of the work of Public Authorities.
‘Giving due regard’ is about having a conscious state of mind for that subject.
If it’s not in your THINKING
It won’t result in ACTION
It won’t be visible in your COMMUNICATIONS and natural BEHAVIOUR
In many instances, the Equality Reference Group do not yet see Public Authorities taking an ‘EDI by design’ approach.
It’s not that Public Authorities are actively causing disadvantage or discrimination, but that they are not considering the duty to advance equality of opportunity enough. This duty requires Public Authorities to:
- Remove or minimise disadvantage
- Meet people’s needs
- Take account of disabilities
- Encourage participation in public life.
In practice this means including equality considerations and involving people right from the start. This is already a best practice requirement of Equality Impact Assessment. Considerations should include:
- Intersectionality* – for example, when developing strategies for young people to think about young people in terms of other protected characteristics (ethnic diversity, disability, religion/belief LGBT+ and gender/sex) and how they may inter-relate. When developing strategies for carers, to think about LGBT+ carers, male carers, disabled carers, carers with diverse cultures, faiths and ethnicities – not just along the lines of age and responsibility such as ‘parent, child, adult’.
- ‘Nothing about us without us’ – engaging people with protected characteristics, particularly those who are marginalised or minoritised, early in the design; considering ways of reaching out to boost involvement of under-represented people.
- Building equality and diversity monitoring into data collection exercises (surveys and consultations, service usage monitoring).
- Ensuring visibility of EDI in communications and reports.
‘Intersectionality’ is the combination of elements that make up a person’s life experience, including but not limited to: age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation (‘protected characteristics’) as well as socio economic factors such as educational attainment, employment and income status, housing and connection (rurality, ICT, transport etc)’. ‘Culture’ is the ideas, customs and social behaviour of a particular people or society and if often complex because of intersectionality.
- Deaf (sign language)
- Hearing impaired
- Physical impairment (wheelchair user, manual dexterity)
- Blind/Visually impaired
- Neurodiversity, dyslexia, autism etc.
- Mental health
- Acquired brain injury
- Manual dexterity
- Long term illness/condition
- Learning disability.
Gender Identity and Reassignment
Pregnancy and maternity
- Pregnant women.
- Breastfeeding women.
- Skin colour, ethnicity, nationality / national origin.
- Asian (South, South East, East)
- Gypsy/Roma and Travellers
- Jewish people
- White people
- Mixed Heritage
Religion and belief
- No religion or belief
- Language skills
- Family background, connection and responsibilities, including children in care and Care Leavers
- Culture and subculture
- Rural isolation
- Access to services or own transport
- Access to ICT/Broadband
- Social connectivity
- Refugee status/No Recourse to Public Funds.
See the Diversity Guide to help consider needs.
The categories included here are an illustration and may not be exhaustive. Socio-economic issues were not included in the Equality Act 2010, but they can have an impact on other protected characteristics.