Equality Commission

We want to accelerate our efforts to mainstreaming equality, diversity and inclusion in all our activities and collaborate with our partners to ensure that the whole county is championing our values around equality.  

Our ambition is for the authority to become a ‘beacon of best practice’ and positive change. We will work with the principles of continuous improvement to influence innovation, learning and organisational development. 

In February 2023, our Cabinet approved the setting up on an Equality Commission to drive improvement through approval and monitoring of a refreshed equality action plan, providing political direction and greater accountability. 


The Commission’s scope intends to be as wide-reaching as possible to ensure its contribution and impact is as significant as it can be. The Commission’s work will form the cornerstone of equality, diversity and inclusion standards and best practice to which the Council’s services, policies, procedures and work will strive to adhere to.  

The Commission will promote the advancement of equality and challenge discrimination in all its forms. To achieve this, it aims to break down barriers prohibiting an inclusive society, tackle unfairness caused by inequality and encourage community cohesion through increased understanding and awareness. 

The Commission will be in place for two years from April 2023. 


The Commission’s values are to: 

  • Be open and honest 
  • Act with integrity 
  • Be inclusive
  • Listen 
  • Be brave, bold and confident. 


The Commission’s Board will drive change across Council departments through a corporate (organisational wide) Equality Delivery Group. The work will be influenced by an Equality Steering Group made up of representatives from staff diversity networks (internal focus) and the voluntary/community sector (external focus). The three groups will work together to co-produce and monitor an Equality Action Plan.

Three circles (Venn diagram) representing the connection between the Equality Steering Group, Equality Delivery Group and Equality Commission Board

Group Membership Role
Equality Steering Group Staff Diversity Network Chairs/representatives. Currently our networks include people with the following protected characteristics:

  • Neurodiversity
  • Ability in the Workplace (disability)
  • Menopause
  • LGBT+
  • Ethnically diverse staff

Equality Reference Group (ERG). The ERG is a body of representatives from the voluntary and community sector covering the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010, and Trade Union EDI representative. The ERG has links with the wider voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector through the Devon, Plymouth and Torbay VCSE Assembly and their own networks.  

Influence and feedback on equality priorities and actions.
Equality Commission Board

The Commission’s Board is made up of six cross-party Devon elected Members and includes a Chairperson and Vice Chairperson. 

Members are:

  • Councillor Ian Hall
  • Councillor Pru Maskell
  • Councillor Jonathan Hawkins
  • Councillor Frank Letch
  • Councillor Marina Asvachin
  • Councillor Jessica Bailey

Uphold the values of the Commission.

Provide leadership, highlight and investigate issues and make recommendations.

Report on progress to Cabinet/Full Council.

Provide public accountability.


Equality Delivery Group Department and project representatives

Respond to priorities by negotiating and supporting the development and delivery of an Equality Action Plan.

Provide tactical leadership, working with departments (including HR) who will design or implement policy, activities, cultural or service change to meet targets.

Some departments have their own equality action groups.

Track and report on progress to the Board.


The Commission will provide progress reports every two months to the Cabinet and Senior Leadership team to keep them updated on its work, progress and developments. A progress report will be provided to the Full Council meeting twice a year to highlight its concerns, its work, impact and outcomes.   

The Commission may establish task groups, enquiry days, and undertake other models of engagement or research as deemed necessary. 

The Commission will be supported by the Director for Legal and Democratic Services and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Team.