South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) has adopted an updated Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy for 2019 to 2022.
The strategy outlines how SLDC is meeting the requirements of the public sector equality duty under the Equality Act 2010, including setting out specific equality objectives, and sets new EDI objectives to improve accessibility and inclusivity at SLDC.
The strategy was passed unanimously by members at the Full Council meeting on Tuesday night.
Councillor Giles Archibald, the Leader of the Council, told the meeting: “It is important that we as a council provide services that are accessible to all, have buildings that are accessible and ensure equality, diversity and inclusivity are at the centre of everything we do.”
The council first adopted an equality scheme in 2006. Since then there have been various revisions to ensure the scheme meets current legislation and it was last updated in 2016.
An earlier draft EDI Strategy had been taken to the South Lakeland Equality and Diversity Partnership, which is composed of interested representatives from the public and voluntary sectors around EDI.
Protected characteristics in the strategy are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. Also included are rurality and socio-economic disadvantage, which are not recognised protected characteristics under the Equality Act, but people on low incomes or in rural isolation are highly likely to be affected by services that are intended to support vulnerable people.
It is the council’s aim to create an environment where everyone can participate and has an equal opportunity to fulfil their potential, where people’s differences are respected, valued and celebrated and where approaches are developed to make all people feel welcomed and valued in South Lakeland, with discrimination and exclusion proactively challenged.
SLDC pledges to:
- Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act;
- Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not;
- Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
- making services accessible to all and improving SLDC’s digital accessibility while maintaining alternative channels to accommodate customer needs by creating a Digital Accessibility Policy, including accessibility in the council’s Digital Strategy and consulting with customers;
- making SLDC buildings accessible to all by completing and publishing an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Places project in the Customer Connect programme, consulting with customers and staff on potential works on our buildings and make necessary changes to improve accessibility through the Customer Connect Programme; providing assistive technology to internal and external customers as required; and promoting the installation of Changing Places facilities in the community and incorporating where we can within our own public buildings;
- Becoming more inclusive and supporting a diverse workforce and continuously aiming to improve the council’s inclusive environment for customers, staff and members by completing and publishing the EIA for the People project in the Customer Connect programme; providing assistive technology as reasonable adjustments to internal and external customers as required; and maintaining Disability Confident Employer status;
- Improving the council’s understanding of EDI and the gathering and use of EDI data on customers, staff and members, to better integrate EDI into decision making and promoting awareness of EDI issues.
The EDI Strategy will have its performance reviewed annually by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.