What is Mainstreaming?

‘Mainstreaming’ equality means making sure that equality is considered at all stages of development and delivery of public services, and by everyone involved in those services. It means that equality is no longer a bolt-on extra, but runs throughout service provision, and that it is understood that public services have failed if they do not deliver equitably for all sections of the community.
Equality network

“The concept of “mainstreaming” is based on the philosophy that the achievement of equality should inform all aspects of the work of all the individuals within an organisation as they go about their business. The mainstreaming of equality is the route to achieving an equality based culture throughout an organisation.”
Scottish Parliament Report on Mainstreaming Equality

Mainstreaming equality is…

  • Making all aspects of equality & human rights principles an integral part of everything your organisation does
  • An ongoing process requiring commitment, reflection, action and engagement
  • Identifying the impact of a proposed action (or inaction) on different groups of as a matter of course and addressing any negative impacts as the action is developed
  • An approach that makes a big difference to service improvement and organisational development

What it’s not

  • It’s not a checklist to tick boxes
  • It’s not a list of do’s and don’ts
  • It’s not a one-off exercise
  • It shouldn’t be lots of additional work
  • It shouldn’t be difficult or expensive

What practical work is involved in mainstreaming equalities?

An organisation which has a mainstreaming approach to equalities will…

  • Ensure that all board members, managers, staff and volunteers understand and promote its equalities ethos
  • Have high quality, well communicated and well enforced policies on equality and human rights and dignity at work
  • Use Equality Impact Assessment or a similar approach to identify equalities issues and take action on them
  • Include equalities issues / actions in action planning, work plans, support and supervision and other strategic activities
  • Consult and involve stakeholders in decisions which affect them

These are just some examples of the practical work involved in mainstreaming. Work will vary from organisation to organisation according to how the organisation operates, its size and capacity and what its purpose is.

Back to Understanding Mainstreaming