How to Mainstream

Mainstreaming is a fairly in depth subject – that’s why we have a four session Mainstreaming Equalities Organisational Development Programme to help organisations work towards it. This page gives an overview of some of the actions we look at in the Programme.

Starting mainstreaming

Map your baseline – find out what your current performance on promoting equality and combating discrimination is. You can use various types of evidence to do this, like equalities monitoring data or information from consultation and involvement exercises.

Consider if you have the evidence and processes to combat discrimination and promote equality in:

  • Decisions on new programmes, policies, services, functions etc
  • Delivery of existing programmes, policies, services, functions etc
  • All aspects of employment

Prioritise – you can’t do everything at once!

Balancing mainstreaming work

Consider the actions you could take in terms of:

  • Proportionality and relevance
  • Effectiveness
  • Involvement
  • Transparency
  • Legal risks

How to mainstream?

  • Monitor services, functions, policies, programmes and employment
  • Review and assess the impact of services, functions, policies, programmes and employment
  • Involve those who use or are affected by your services etc
  • Review the effectiveness
  • Revise your activities as necessary

Remember the human rights principles:  Dignity, Equality,  Fairness,  Respect and Autonomy.

Use existing processes / actions

  • Management / annual reports
  • Budgets
  • Risk management processes
  • Funding / procurement criteria
  • Policy development
  • Service delivery reviews / monitoring etc

Use your equality tools

  • Equality impact assessment
  • Equality audit
  • Equality Scheme
  • Equality Action Plan
  • Education
  • Consultation & participation
  • Analysis

It can seem difficult at first but it gets easier, however don’t get complacent! Mainstreaming is an ongoing process, not a task with a beginning and an end.

Educational tools

These help by raising awareness / increasing knowledge e.g.:

  • Awareness-raising activities e.g. engaging with the media to challenge stereotypes or highlight an issue
  • Training courses e.g. for boards, staff or volunteers, or external bodies
  • Expert or personal testimony
  • Handbooks, leaflets & other publications
  • Educational material for use in schools / communities etc

Consultative and participatory tools

These help by improving decision-making and service delivery, e.g.:

  • Hearings and consultative fora
  • Open days, conferences and seminars
  • Feedback and comments opportunities (two-way process)
  • User / member surveys
  • Working groups, steering groups or think tanks
  • Encouraging participation of all social groups in decision-making e.g. management committees, user groups etc

Analytical tools

These help highlight and analyse the issue, e.g.:

  • Disaggregated statistics
  • Surveys and forecasts
  • Research
  • Guidelines and terms of reference
  • Equality impact assessment and differential impact analysis models
  • Indicators and monitoring tools

SO PLEASE, Make it work

  • Sustainability, including effective resource allocation
  • Ownership by all (staff, volunteers, users, members etc)
  • Participation by local community, users, members etc
  • Leadership at all levels, internally and externally, is clear and consistent (equality is prioritised)
  • Evidence based decision-making
  • Accountability and monitoring of progress through effective processes and systems
  • Support, incentives and sanctions (not a blame culture)
  • Expertise is shared by all but links to experts

Progress indicators

  • Equality & human rights issues are considered at the start of any activity / process
  • People affected feel engaged in decision making
  • Improvements in services / delivery etc
  • Easy access to data / info showing the impact of your work on specific groups
  • Your organisation reflects the community it serves
  • Your organisation understands equality & human rights issues and has access to expert support (and knows when to use it)
  • Staff, volunteers, management are aware of their equality & human rights duties, understand the impact of them and are trained on equality & human rights issues

Focus on the outcomes not just the process!

Back to Understanding Mainstreaming