Unlike popular beliefs, the Equality Act 2010 is not as such entirely new, these laws have already been existing, but were scattered and unstructured for the general population or even employers to grasp. In fact, the Equality Act 2010 is an Act which consolidates and agglomerates the Equal Pay Act 1970, the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Race Relations Act 1976, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and three major statutory instruments protecting discrimination in employment on grounds of religion or belief, sexual orientation and age.
The Equality Act 2010 has nine protected characteristics:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion and belief
- Sexual orientation
So why do we need to consider inclusivity in Higher Education?
Although Higher Education (HE) is considered to be a non-profit, charity sector, the truth is that HE in the UK is very much for profit. Many may disagree with me, until they hit a wall when trying to implement something like inclusivity or any other rationale process.
With a business model of attracting a higher number of students (hence increasing revenue via fees), and securing grants, it often happens, as in any other sector, that fairness and equality are overseen.
Their struggles are our struggles.
All roles within HE involve working, collaborating and most importantly communicating with other people. What often happens, is that these people are perceived as “roles” and not as human beings. We fail by defining responsibilities for the role, rather than responsibilities for the person in that role. The recruitment stage is of course largely to be blamed for that matter, followed by line managers and HR who fail to ensure that the person is taken into consideration.
The issue emanates from the over-reliance on the “work contract”, in return for monetary renumeration via salary or consultation fees. Put in a simplistic way, most work contract, and their assocated responsibilities for a particular role define work as such “you do the work and you get paid”. There is little emphasis on how a person gets it on, and worst is that there is little regard as to whether the person is provided the relevant tools and support to get the work done.
There is a huge difference betwen equality and equity. We open speak of gender equality and all sorts of equalities, completely missing the point that equality will not bring the same outcome. So the responsibilities defined for a particular role, cannot be reached until equity is brought in.
It will be decades and even centuries before we reach equity in any of the above 9 protected areas, simply because we are all getting it wrong. Policy makers do not fully understand the issue, experts fail to make policy makers understand, victims are further victimised, we are all failing because of a failure in how we communicate.
How do we communicate to each other then?
This is an excerpt of an article I am writing, will post the full article after publication.