Equality Performance Report April 2020 to March 2021

DCC’s equality objectives are published and regularly updated at Our corporate equality objectives – Equality and Diversity (devon.gov.uk).

Below is an annual update of progress at March 2021 for the previous financial year:

a) Continuous equality objectives and targets

1. Equality Reference Group (ERG) provides insight and challenge

Equality Reference Group (ERG) provides insight and challenge through ERG Surgeries or involvement in activities such as Scrutiny Committee Task and Finish Groups, helping to ensure that service plans and policies include sufficient equality considerations, recognising good practice and impact of work, and helping the organisation to ‘join up’.

Over the past year, ERG were consulted on a range of issues including:

  • Pandemic management impact assessments
  • Guidance on end of life care during a pandemic
  • Community tensions during lockdown
  • Covid-19 vaccination and testing
  • Monitoring equality and diversity in the care sector
  • Encouraging participation in the 2021 Census (with the SW Census team).

No Scrutiny activities took place with ERG during 2020 and 2021.

Further information about past ERG meetings is available in the Equality Reference Group newsletters.

2. 100% of decisions to Cabinet include a sufficient equality impact assessment.

Impact Assessment is used to ensure DCC meets its Public Sector Equality Duties and puts people at the heart of decisions.

95% of decisions to Cabinet included a sufficient impact assessment. This is the same performance as the previous year. This result is reported internally to DCC via its risk management system.

View all Published Impact Assessments.

3. Address unacceptable behaviour and discrimination: It’s OK to say it’s not OK

Monitor for unacceptable behaviour (including sexual harassment), ensure incidents are resolved satisfactorily and continuously promote a culture of ‘zero tolerance’ and ‘it’s OK to say it’s not OK’.

Discrimination related data from April 2020 and March 2021 is below. Due to data protection restrictions, we may not be able to report on the details of the complaints. There may be duplication in some of the reporting (for example, a person raises and issue via the discrimination incident report form and then takes this formally as a complaint or grievance, following advice).

Customer Complaints

Results for a search of ‘keywords’ from the customer complaints system showed that 13 complaints had a discrimination element to them, noting that in the majority of complaints listed, discrimination is not the only or main issue being raised within the complaint:

  • 6 related to disability
  • 4 related to racism
  • 3 related to sexism.

One complaint was withdrawn, two were partly upheld, three were upheld, three were not upheld, four are still under investigation.

Staff Grievances and Disciplinaries

In 2019 there was one formal grievance and three disciplinaries with a discrimination element to them. In 2020 there were four formal grievances or disciplinaries with a discrimination element to them.

Between January 2021 and March 2021 there were no disciplinaries or grievances with a discrimination element to them.

Discrimination Incident Reports (including Social Media)

Eight reports were made via the reporting form between 20th May 2020 and 20th March 2021. Three reports were made directly to the Lead Officer for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion via email or telephone.

No reports have been made in relation to unacceptable comments on social media.

Of the 11 reports made:

  • 5 related to disability discrimination/harassment
  • 2 related to racism
  • 2 related to sexism
  • 1 related to age discrimination/harassment
  • 1 was bullying (not related to a diversity characteristic).

Three reports were made by advocates / witnesses, four reports were from members of staff and four reports were from service users / members of the public.

Actions included:

  • Reporting inappropriate email content (spam) to Stop Hate UK.
  • Referrals to the EASS (national helpline).
  • Referrals to the staff grievance procedure.
  • Referrals to service or contract managers to investigate and take appropriate action (for example, staff disciplinary or ensuring support put in place for service user).

Four reports were anonymous and therefore referrals could not be made. Recommendations from the complainants included:

  • More training/awareness on how to be empathic towards people with mental ill health.
  • Deal with bullying more promptly and efficiently.
  • Use male and female symbols in social distancing signage (not two male ‘stick figures’).

In March 2020, staff were reminded of guidance on Domestic Violence, Abuse and Stalking following public concerns about violence towards women.

4. Awareness raising

Involvement in events and sharing of information to: engage communities, staff and Members  celebrate diversity; raise awareness of equality and challenge inequalities; promote relevant DCC services, information and employment opportunities.

Due to the pandemic, involvement in events was restricted during 2020 and 2021.

DCC supported an online event for Black History Month run by Devon Development Education in October 2020 and wrote an article for International Women’s Day on Women in Data.

The Lead Officer for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion has been working with Devon Development Education Windrush Group to organise a formal flag raising ceremony to celebrate Windrush Day in Devon on 22nd June, however this will be a restricted event due to social distancing requirements. The Windrush Group and DCC hope to be able to celebrate Windrush Day in full in 2022.

5. Staff influence

Support and promote staff networks and groups ensuring members have a voice and can influence policy and practice.

The following networks are available to staff:

DCC staff networks were encouraged to take part in staff wellbeing surveys. The Staff Diversity Reference Group were consulted on a series of animated videos about coronavirus for the general public. Black and Asian staff have been invited to take part in the Race Equality Audit and the Let’s Explore Race mentoring programme where they are also directly influencing leadership.

6. Robust evidence base

Use data and information (including feedback) about our diverse communities and workforce to inform our strategies, policies and practice.

Equality and diversity data has been a key feature of coronavirus reporting in Local Outbreak Management meetings and the NHS/DCC Inequalities Cell. Inequalities data is also contributing to Recovery planning, with a Dashboard currently in development.

DCC consulted voluntary and community sector organisations on language needs during the pandemic, making information available in different languages and formats and escalating gaps in translations to government departments.

Conversations have begun on the development of an Equality Dashboard.

Key sources of information:

7. Training and development.

The number of staff who have completed the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Essentials course at March 2021 is 2,799 (57%). The course was launched one and a half years ago and is mandatory within one month of starting or every two years. Once staff complete the EDI Essentials course, they can participate in an Advanced EDI course. Currently two courses are available:

Deaf Awareness was introduced in October 2019. Between April 2020 and March 2021 223 people completed the Deaf Awareness e-learning module.

The Understanding Race Bias was introduced in November 2020. Staff can choose between the Micro or Managers modules. As at 31 March 2021, 12 people had viewed both the Micro and Managers modules, 45 had viewed the Micro and 4 had viewed the Managers (total of 61 participating). To strengthen the course by introducing an element of accountability and responsibility, an assessment was introduced in March 2021 requiring delegates to answer 3 questions which are graded by the Corporate Equality Officer. Since its introduction, 11 people received a pass grade during March.

b) Equality projects

1. Develop further equality learning and development options

DCC recognised the need to continue to ensure its staff are competent at meeting people’s needs, reducing inequalities and eliminating unlawful discrimination. Budget limitations have, over the years, meant that DCC’s focus on equality training has reduced and it wanted to reverse that. As a result, DCC developed an LGBT+ toolkit and identified a need for a cultural competency toolkit.

Phase 1: January 2019 to December 2020:

‘Cultural competency’ guidance was published as part of Diversity Guide.

A new and comprehensive Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Essentials e-learning package was developed and is mandatory for all staff.

Phase 2: October 2020 to June 2021:

An Advanced Equality, Diversity and Inclusion e-learning package was published in November 2020, initial courses include Unconscious Race Bias and Deaf Awareness. A Cultural Competency mentoring programme for Leadership Group started in 2021.

2. Achieve 95% completion of DCC staff diversity data for ethnicity and disability

Work was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. We are now regularly reminding staff to update their records and seeing an increase in the number of records completed.

Completed records March 2021:

Ethnicity – 2692 (55%)

Disability – 2246 (37%)

(Headcount March 2021: 4,899)

3. Address systemic racism

The Lead Member for Equality initially responded to George Floyd’s death by working with the Corporate Equality Officer to write an article for the staff newsletter explaining what Black Lives Matter means for Devon and the UK, and what resources staff have to ensure they can promote equality at work.

During the pandemic, the Council added Black and Asian ethnicity as a risk factor to its staff Covid Risk Assessment.

We have been creating translated coronavirus information for communities. Cultural/religious needs were also at the centre of thinking around dealing with death and bereavement.

In August 2021, the Council supported the reprinting of historian Todd Gray’s book Devon and the Slave Trade.

In September 2020, two Members (elected County Councillors) took Notices of Motion on Black Lives Matter to Council which have been responded to. This included continuing to support Members to engage with diverse communities and writing to the Secretary of State for Education requesting him to:

  • Capture the voice of children and young people and their responses to the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Ensure that the school environment and curriculum allows all students to see themselves reflected and included.
  • Reflect on how they challenge historic and persisting racist ideas and how they celebrate diversity.

DCC supported four online events marking Black History Month, October 2020 with Devon Development Education.

New guidance on ‘debiasing the system’ has been published as part of our approach to Impact Assessment.

A Race Equality Audit is being carried out between January 2021 and July 2021 involving local anti-racism activists as ‘community observers’.

Cultural Competency Mentoring pilot and Understanding Race Bias training launched.

4. On hold

The following projects have been delayed due to the pandemic:

  • Review of interpreting and translation services
  • BSL Charter review

Spending

Equality Reference Group contracts  £29,750
COVID-19 response: translations and interpreting  £4,112
Race Equality Audit – consultancy  £2,100
Learning and development  £1,925
Community events and grants  £2,280