The Equality Act 2010 introduced a Public Sector Equality Duty. This duty places both general and specific duties on all public bodies including Surrey County Council.
The general duty
The general duty requires all public bodies to have due regard to the need to:
- Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, 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.
The Act further explains that having due regard for advancing equality involves:
- Removing or minimising disadvantages suffered by people due to their protected characteristics.
- Taking steps to meet the needs of people from protected groups where these are different from the needs of other people.
- Encouraging people from protected groups to participate in public life or in other activities where their participation is disproportionately low.
The specific duties
The two specific duties within the Public Sector Equality Duty require all public bodies to:
- Set equality objectives for the organisation
- Publish information about our staff and the community
The priorities included in our Equality, Fairness and Respect Strategy are our equalities objectives. These priorities will help us to meet the challenges of Surrey's most vulnerable residents.
We publishing information to demonstrate our compliance with the Equality Duty:
- We publish our Equality Impact Assessments to show how we have considered our legal duties when making decisions. This meets the requirement to publish information showing that we have considered how our services affect people who share different protected characteristics.
- Surrey-i, our local information system, publishes information about our residents and communities. This helps to demonstrate the outcomes experienced by residents with different protected characteristics.
- We publish a workforce profile that includes information about the make up of our workforce. We also have clear internal procedures for addressing equalities issues. This meets the requirement to consider how our activities affect employees with different protected characteristics.
As part of this duty, the county council also has a responsibility to ensure that partners, companies and organisations we commission to provide services on our behalf take the same positive approach to equality and diversity.