Balancing priorities

Participants on the Mainstreaming Equalities Organisational Development Programme take many ideas for change back to their organisations – that’s the point of the Programme. However, organisations have limited time and resources and need to focus on their main objectives, so it’s not possible to make all of these changes at once. We need to consider how to balance our equality priorities.

For all of the things we do which may have an equalities impact, we need to ensure our actions are:

  • Necessary
  • Pursuing a legitimate aim
  • Legal
  • Proportionate

Some questions that can help us to meet those criteria include:

  • What improvements would result from the action you’re considering?
  • Whose interests are being served, and whose might not be addressed?
  • Have there been changes to equalities case law that might be relevant?
  • Avoid duplication – is someone else doing something similar, or could they?
  • What does your evidence (e.g. monitoring data, consultation results) tell you?
  • Does what you’re considering fit with your organisational purpose / vision and mission?
  • Does what you’re considering fit with the current work and priorities of your organisation?

Where there are a range of actions being considered that can’t be completed all at once, it might be helpful to balance your priorities in this order:

  • The actions that would remove or reduce a legal risk to your organisation, followed by:
  • The actions that would create the biggest improvement, and/or
  • The actions that are quickest and easiest to complete

Your number one priority should always be to prevent discrimination and other conduct prohibited by the Equality Act 2010. For less urgent actions, sometimes taking the easy option can boost morale by showing people in your organisation that equalities improvements don’t have to be difficult. However if they don’t see any big improvements they might begin to feel that the organisation is taking a ‘tick box’ approach or not taking its responsibilities seriously. It’s therefore important to balance the type of action taken.

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