East Herts Council set to approve new equalities strategy, including calendar of events, to ensure diversity and inclusion
East Herts Council is ramping up its policies to ensure equality for residents in the district and its own staff.
Members are set to approve a new strategy, called East and Equal, to ensure diversity and inclusion this summer after Conservative leader Cllr Linda Haysey admitted: "The council's current equalities strategy is in urgent need of refresh."
As part of this, the council aims to draw up a calendar of events in 2021-22 to celebrate and mark International Day of Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, LGBT+ Awareness Month and International Women's Day among others.
Cllr Haysey's report on the challenges the council faces and a new draft policy are set to be presented to the council's overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday evening (June 8).
A range of proposals, including an ethnicity pay gap report, will be reviewed by the executive on July 6 before being proposed for adoption at full council on July 28.
The new strategy acknowledges the council's legal obligation under the Equality Act 2010 to recognise the protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
But it goes further: "Our duty is more than a legal one. Global events over the past 18 months have highlighted the need for East Herts to have a focused vision and set of actions to address equalities challenges.
"Health inequalities have been reported and recognised as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and a spotlight has been shone on race and ethnicity within our BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) communities as a result of the Black Lives Matter movement.
"These events have highlighted how we as an organisation need to understand the challenges some of our communities face.
"A new strategy will enable us to identify some of the challenges specific to East Herts and how we as a district council can work collaboratively with a focused vision to address them."
The council has come up with a series of priorities, starting with improving the way it gathers, analyses and stores data to make informed decisions.
It says: "We need to champion, and be seen to champion, equality and diversity in a way that gives our residents confidence we take the issues seriously."
The challenges of an ageing population affected by dementia and tensions between the gipsy, Roma and traveller community and other residents about planning issues are flagged as areas to be addressed.
The council aims to create an East Herts calendar of events "designed to engage with the public to celebrate and acknowledge the protected characteristics".
- August 2021 – International Day of Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition
- October 2021 – Mental Health Awareness Day
- January 2022 – Holocaust Memorial Day
- February 2022 – LGBT+ Awareness Month
- March 2022 – International Women's Day
The council will also mark:
- April 2022 – World Health Day (with an emphasis on neurodiversity and autism)
- May 2022 – Mental Health Awareness Week (with emphasis on dementia)
- June 2022 – Carers' Week & World Refugee Day
- July 2022 – Southern Maltings Festival in Ware
- November 2022 – Remembrance Day