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Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Challenging inequality and celebrating diversity

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See our Diversity guide for more information

Equality information


Many services that are run or commissioned by the Council focus on meeting the health and social care needs of disabled people, but disability equality goes beyond simply meeting these needs. The Equality Act 2010 encourages public authorities to advance equality for disabled people, including encouraging participation in public life. Disabled people make up around 15 to 20% of the population, but they are under-represented in employment and on boards/committees and experience many barriers to accessing services.

Our disability representative on the Equality Reference Group is Living Options Devon.

The social model of disability emphasises the individual and places the focus on removing barriers that get in the way of everyone being able to participate in all mainstream activities. The medical model of disability focuses on the impairment rather than the social barriers and many disabled people view it as negative. We work closely with many disabled people and groups to create a better environment for disabled people to prosper and enjoy life.

Improving access for Deaf people

Devon has had a strong track record of supporting inclusion for Deaf British Sign Language (BSL) users, through Sign Vision consultation events and the development of a Devon BSL Charter. In 2014 the British Deaf Association (BDA) launched a new BSL Charter. The new national BDA Charter replaces the Devon Charter. We will use the BDA Charter to benchmark our progress in meeting the needs of Deaf people and encourage other organisations to do so.

In 2017 we introduced video interpreting services in addition to face-to-face interpreting:

  • Deaf people can contact hearing DCC staff and our Customer Service Centre using the Video Relay Service (VRS).
  • Video Remote Interpreting offers our staff the ability to communicate with a Deaf person (who is with them) via a Sign Language Interpreter, who is available through a video link on a smartphone or PC. As long as there is good connectivity and lighting, staff can access this service from any location, through their PC or Windows phone using Skype for Business. For example, a receptionist can communicate with a Deaf person who has turned up at reception. It is only suitable for unplanned, short periods of interpreting.
  • Staff can also contact a Deaf person via telephone when the Deaf person is not with them – they can phone an Interpreter who will contact the Deaf person by video link or leave a video message. The Deaf person needs to be registered on a database by DCC first.
  • We also provide an e-learning course on Deaf Awareness to staff.

Further information on video interpreting for staff only.

End Pavement Parking campaign

Devon is currently raising awareness of the problems of parking on pavements. Find out more about our campaign and how you can get involved.

Access to the Countryside

The Devon Countryside Access Forum have published a Disability Access Position Statement (see Position Statements).

The Devon Countryside Access Forum recognises that everyone, whether residents or visitors, should be able to enjoy recreation in Devon’s natural environment.

The Position Statement sets out recommendations for improving access to the countryside for people with limited mobility, including on Public Rights of Way and cycle/multi-use trails, and points readers to more detailed information. Although the Statement focuses particularly on physical disabilities, it is worth noting that limited mobility affects a range of people, including parents with children in buggies; elderly or frail people, who might use an electric mobility scooter or wheelchair; and people with walking aids. Improving access for wheelchairs and large off road electric mobility scooters can improve access for all.

Ready When You Are

Thousands of people across Devon are overlooked for jobs because of pre-conceived myths and ideas about disability and long-term health conditions. Devon County Council has been trying to change this.

The ‘Be Ready’ Employer Hub service supports Devon-based businesses, charities and social enterprises to understand and build on the benefits of employing and keeping people with disabilities or long term health conditions.

Devon County Council is a Mindful Employer

As an employer we recognise that in the UK, people experiencing mental ill health continue to report
stigma and discrimination at work. Having signed the ‘Charter for Employers Positive about Mental
Health’, we are committed to creating a supportive and open culture, where colleagues feel able to talk
about mental health confidently, and aspire to appropriately support the mental wellbeing of all staff.
As an employer, we have made an on-going commitment to:

  • Provide non-judgemental and proactive support to staff experiencing mental ill health.
  • Not make assumptions about a person with a mental health condition and their ability to work.
  • Be positive and enabling towards all employees and job applicants with a mental health condition.
    Support line managers in managing mental health in the workplace.
  • Ensure we are fair in the recruitment of new staff in accordance with the Equality Act (2010).
  • Make it clear that people who have experienced mental ill health will not be discriminated against, and that disclosure of a mental health problem will enable both the employee and employer to assess and provide the right level of support or adjustment.

Mindful Employer

Race - ethnicity, national origins, race or colour

Sometimes decisions can be made, and actions taken, which unintentionally affect certain ethnic groups of people in a negative way, this is often because of a lack of understanding of the needs and aspirations of minority communities, resulting from prejudice, stereotyping and systemic or structural racism.

The result may lead to a lack of opportunity, difficulty in accessing services or a failure to have a need identified. This was the main finding of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry which defined ‘institutional racism’ and changed the shape of equality legislation.

Racism is unacceptable and has no place in society. We want to eliminate institutional racism alongside all forms of institutional discrimination. Our community is becoming increasingly diverse and like other public authorities, we are here to serve all the people of Devon – from all cultures, national and ethnic backgrounds.

Our race equality representative on the Equality Reference Group is Plymouth and Devon Racial Equality Council.

In 2013 we published a guide, Understanding Race in Devon, for foster carers and adopters on how to look after ethnically diverse children (which can be useful for all kinds of care settings).

The Council also has a dedicated Gypsy and Traveller Liason Service and developed a handbook on how we manage unauthorised encampments. Our two Gypsy and Traveller sites (Sowton and Broadclyst) are now managed by Elim Housing.

We support Refugees and Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children.

Working with Devon Development Education, we hosted Devon’s first formal Windrush Day Celebrations at County Hall on 22nd June 2021 and continue to celebrate this event each year.

To support people whose first language is not English, we have published information about coronavirus in a range of Devon community languages.

In October 2020, we celebrated Black History Month by uncovering stories of people’s experiences living in Devon.

In 2020 we carried out a Race Equality Audit and cultural competency mentoring programme for our leaders. We have developed a Race Equality Framework and action plan, created a new staff group and have raised the profile of race equality across the organisation.

Religion or belief

There are many faiths and beliefs held by people living in Devon and as a public authority it is our legal duty to ensure we advance equality, eliminate discrimination and foster good relations between people because of their faith or belief. This duty covers goods and services as well as employment.

Devon has supported the setting up of the Devon Faith and Belief Forum who are represented on our Equality Reference Group. Find out more about setting up the forum:Creating Links – Devon Faith Forums Report.

We also have a Contemplation and Prayer Room at our main centre of work (County Hall in Exeter) for staff, councillor and visitor use.

Sex and Gender

Addressing sex and gender identity discrimination and inequalities means meeting the different needs of women and men while being aware that this includes men and women who are transgender as well as those who are not.

It also involves taking account of the needs and aspirations of people who are non-binary, intersex or with any other gender definition.

Our gender equality representative on our Equality Reference Group is Fawcett Devon.

Transgender people’s needs and issues are represented on our Equality Reference Group by the LGBT+ representative (also see the section on Sexual Orientation).

2018 was Vote100 – find out how we celebrated the centenary of women first gaining the right to vote.

In 2019 we published our Breastfeeding Statement and launched the Positive About Breastfeeding scheme.

In 2019 we changed single-unit toilets to be gender-neutral at County Hall and are looking at ways of increasing gender-neutral facilities where this is feasible (for example, in single-unit facilities).

Gender identity

For more information and guidance on ensuring access for Trans people, please see our LGBT Toolkit for Excellence.

Gender and sex equality

In 2011 we carried out a study to identify and address any problems experienced by pregnant women at work, women on maternity leave and women who have left or returned to work following the birth of their baby. The Equality Act 2010 introduced provisions that make it unlawful to ban women from breastfeeding in public.

We publish a Gender Pay Gap report every year.

Sexual orientation

Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual (LGB) people’s needs and issues are often overlooked. LGB people may not want to be Out about their orientation for fear of harassment or discrimination. Also, many members of the general population still take the attitude that people are “heterosexual until proven otherwise”. Social change and the development of the country’s legal framework mean that the visibility of marginalised groups will increase in the future, but this will take time and steps need to be taken now to improve trust and confidence between service providers and LGB people.

Our work around LGBT equality has included an LGBT Pledge for staff, supporting a staff LGBT network which is also available to partner organisations, taking part in Exeter Pride – flying our rainbow flag, running a Talking Zone and joining the parade, and developing an LGBT Toolkit.

Our LGBT representative on the Equality Reference Group is the Intercom Trust.

*T stands for Transgendered people. While sexual orientation (attraction towards men/women) and gender identity (sense of being male/female) are completely different, the experiences of LGB and Trans people are often similar because of widespread social assumptions and lack of awareness of the issues, and a shared ‘invisibility’. This is why the two separate aspects, gender identify and sexual orientation, are considered in parallel.