Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion commitment
East Sussex County Council recognises the diverse needs and strengths of our communities and is committed to promoting equality, recognising the benefits of diversity and ensuring inclusion in service delivery and employment.
We will challenge discrimination and encourage respect, understanding and dignity for everyone living in, working in and visiting East Sussex. We will do this through our direct practice in service delivery, in our recruitment and employment practices, and through our influence in the community, strategic planning and policy formation in employment and service delivery.
Our county context and aims
The multiple impacts of Covid-19 and of the cost of living increases have shone a spotlight on the inequalities in the county and we are committed to working with partners to do all we can to respond to existing and emerging needs. We also know that our county’s population is becoming more diverse and that people experience different obstacles and opportunities. We need to continually improve our understanding of this diversity in order to respond effectively to it. For more information about the county’s population click this link: Welcome to ESiF
We want East Sussex to be a good place to live in, work in and visit. The Council has a unique role in the county as a civic leader, service provider, employer and a purchaser of goods and services locally. Our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to all of these roles and integral to our success.
Our legal duties
ESCC recognises the importance of meeting our legal duties defined in the Equality Act 2010. This means when we carry out our day-to-day work, we must pay ‘due regard’ to the need to:
- eliminate discrimination
- advance equality of opportunity and
- foster good relations
Our commitment to achieve these duties goes beyond mere compliance. We recognise our central responsibility to ensure fair, accessible and responsive services and the importance of being seen as an employer of choice throughout the county.
Our legal duties apply to nine 'protected characteristics’: age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex, sexual orientation, and marriage and civil partnership. We also have duties in relation to former or current members of the armed forces and their families.
In addition, we know that barriers and disadvantage potentially exist relating to other factors, such as living in rural parts of the county or caring responsibilities. These other factors will also be part of our consideration, where they are appropriate.
More detail on the Equality Act 2010 is included on this council webpage: The Equality Act and our duties
Our equality objectives
The Council recognises the diverse needs of our communities and is committed to promoting equality of opportunity and diversity in employment and service delivery. We challenge discrimination and encourage respect, understanding and dignity for everyone living, working and visiting East Sussex. We do this through our influence in the community, strategic planning and policy formation in employment and service delivery.
The Council has identified two equality objectives that will be our focus for 2023/24:
We will lead by example, delivering services that are informed by the views, strengths and needs of our communities and providing an inclusive and supportive working environment for our staff. To help achieve this we will take practical actions on equality, diversity and inclusion as set out in the Corporate Equality Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan.
As part of the Workplace Adjustments Review, we will:
- Engage with disabled staff to identify agreed areas for improvement.
- Use a range of engagement mechanisms to raise manager and staff awareness of workplace adjustments and the process for requesting and implementing them.
- Set up practical, useful and sustainable approaches across the council to improve consistency for disabled staff and monitor implementation.
Our approach to equality, diversity and inclusion
We have identified the following priorities for the coming year:
The Council is a significant service provider in the County. We aim to deliver those services effectively to all members of the community, enabling equal access and recognising the diverse needs and strengths of different members of the community. We achieve this by:
- Ensuring equality and inclusion considerations are embedded throughout our Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources (RPPR) process, which enables us to identify key policy priorities and develop our plans and budgets together.
- Assessing the potential equality implications of new and existing processes, strategies and policies. One of the ways in which we do this is through conducting Equality Impact Assessments (EqIAs) to ensure that fair access and inclusive practice are central to our work, to promote good relations between different groups of people and to identify and minimise any negative effects on people sharing specific characteristics.
- Responding effectively to legislative changes which affect how we work with people, including communicating the implications of these changes for staff and for practice.
- Continually developing our approach to equality monitoring, in terms of our ability to collect equality data, how consistently we collect it, how we analyse and use data and how we share it appropriately. We support staff to collect and use equality data effectively to understand the needs and experience of our population and to support service improvement.
- Widening and deepening our approach to consultation, engagement and communications. We use our links with the community to understand how effective our services are at meeting the needs of diverse communities. We review and update our communications to ensure they are accessible across all communities and locations in the county.
- To respond to the rise in the cost of living, we have developed a cross-sector, cross-county partnership. We will ensure that issues, barriers and opportunities for people sharing legally protected characteristics are addressed in its core activities.
- Embedding digital inclusion in education, health, care, and preventative services to ensure council staff and volunteers supporting the most vulnerable people will be confident to identify and assess digital exclusion and act as digital champions. We are also reviewing accessibility across our website and improving access to other information formats, including Easy Read and interpreting and translation for spoken and non-spoken languages.
- Identifying specific equality and inclusion priorities in all of the Council’s departments to complement and build on the work being done across the council. We commission bespoke training where services benefit from additional support for good equality practice in specialist areas; and identify targeted approaches where services experience particular challenges.
Procurement and contracts:
Our influence also extends to our procurement and contracts and our responsibilities to ensure that organisations delivering services on our behalf, or from whom we purchase goods and services, work with us to achieve our equality aims. Whilst we aim to obtain goods and services for the best price and value, we also work to ensure that we spend public money effectively with added value, making considerations about spending locally and ethically and build strong working relationships both internally and with key suppliers. Our standard purchase order terms and conditions require suppliers to identify how they will meet their legal equality duties and comply with the meaning and scope of the legislation in force from time to time, in particular the Equality Act 2010. This requirement is also embedded within our standard contract documentation. In addition, where appropriate and proportionate, we will utilise social value and other qualitive elements of assessing tender responses to seek deeper understanding of a supplier’s approach to mitigate against discrimination in their organisation and throughout their supply chain.
Our staff are East Sussex County Council’s most significant and valuable asset. We have high aims for a representative workforce who can learn from best practice and innovation to close the outcome gaps between people who have a protected characteristic and people who do not. In employment, we aim to support all our employees to bring the full range of their diverse attributes, talents and skills to benefit the council and the county, and to develop a workforce that more fully reflects the communities we serve. We will achieve this by:
- Further aligning key workforce policies and other documents with our corporate equality approach, to define, articulate and advertise planned equality actions.
- Implementing actions identified through our review of recruitment and selection, including providing updated guidance and learning opportunities, and supporting managers to identify opportunities to recruit in new ways to attract the best possible candidates.
- Supporting staff from induction and as they progress in the council, to ensure that they are able to develop their potential and contribute all their skills. We work with Staff Networks and other colleagues to identify barriers to progression and improve the range of options available to staff to take up new roles.
- Continually building, updating and using our workforce data to contextualise and plan areas for development, comparing with Census 2021 data and other sources to define actions to address differences in representation.
- Continuing to build and develop our Staff Networks to deepen and widen engagement, define priority activities and build capacity.
- Building on and extending current provision of equality, diversity and inclusion learning offer to align with identified needs and priorities, to enable all staff to understand our legal duties and the benefits of working in a fair and inclusive way.
- Challenging discrimination, intentional or unintentional, and strengthening processes for reporting and addressing incidents relating to prejudice and discrimination when they take place.
Our approach to monitoring and improvement
Our Council Plan sets out how we will meet our public duties and includes actions and commitments relating to all areas of equality, including our equality objectives. We regularly review our progress and annually publish equality monitoring data and analysis.
Elected Members of the Council represent the people of East Sussex and are active in promoting equality. The Leader of the Council is Lead Member with responsibility for equality and diversity, and all Cabinet members have responsibility for ensuring that services are delivered effectively to everyone in the community and are supported by regular training to achieve this.
A group of senior managers attend two equality boards, one for workforce matters and one focused on services, to oversee the development and implementation of the Council’s equality agenda, provide leadership to departments and enable integration of equality into mainstream activity and processes. Reports on progress are also regularly provided through these Boards to the Corporate Management Team.
We monitor statistical information on the employment of staff and collect data on all the legally protected characteristics. We use that information to compare our workforce with the communities in the county that we serve, to assess the effectiveness of our equality and diversity policies and consider how to improve our performance. We publish a Gender Pay Gap Report with actions for improvement annually.
Within the Council itself we seek the views of our staff on the experience of working for the Council: we assess comments against all equalities characteristics and seek to address concerns and make the most of opportunities. We recognise the value of full and constructive engagement with the trade unions and with our Staff Networks.
The Council provides services used by all residents in East Sussex, including providing care and support to children, families and the elderly; maintaining the roads and providing library services; and working to boost the local economy. We provide services to some of the most vulnerable people in the county, and these services are vital in helping to keep these people safe and helping them to help themselves.
Our Council Plan sets out our ambitions and what we plan to achieve by 2026 for our four overarching priority outcomes:
- drive sustainable economic growth;
- keep vulnerable people safe;
- help people help themselves; and
- make best use of resources now and for the future.
We consider equality, diversity and inclusion impacts throughout all aspects of our business planning processes. This ensures that our planned priorities are based on a good understanding of diversity and local needs and that we identify and respond to opportunities to remove barriers and maximise positive outcomes. We monitor the outcomes for people sharing different characteristics so that we understand our impact.
Future development of the Policy
Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion approach and commitments are not static; they are updated and modified as new legislation and codes of practice are introduced, our county population changes, and as our understanding develops of the needs and assets of people living in, working in and visiting East Sussex. We know that inequality and discrimination exist and recognise the continual need to ensure that we work hard and effectively to deliver our services fairly to all, and that we always involve and engage our staff in future developments. We are committed to tackling inequality and to making steady, assessable, improvements.
East Sussex County Council Equality Action Plan 2023-24 [139.0 KB] [docx]
Children's Services: Equality and Diversity Strategy
Adult Social Care & Health: Equality and inclusion - Adult social care and health
Recruitment: Equality, diversity and inclusion
To be reviewed annually, or as appropriate in response to changes in legislation and best practice. Policy owned by Corporate Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Board.