My Bron Afon

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy

If you need our Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy 2019-2023 as a PDF you can find it here in English and Welsh (21 Pages, 538 KB)

A message from chair of the board/chief executive

We pride ourselves on our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion for customers and staff. For us, it’s much more than compliance with the law; it’s about the culture and values of our organisation.

Our staff, members and partners worked together to come up with values that guide our behaviour. We are really proud of what was produced. Every day we work hard to make sure that anyone who comes into contact with our staff or services feels them. These values are fairly new but including everyone has always been part of the way we work.

Our approach to equality, diversity and inclusion will help us to deliver first class services tailored to customer needs and be an organisation that people want to work for. We want to attract the very best people from the widest talent pool and we aim to create an inclusive and supportive environment where everyone from all backgrounds feels valued, able to be themselves and can perform at their very best.

Our Board has approved this strategy and are fully supportive of and committed to the achievement of the objectives, which go beyond what we “should” be doing and truly embed inclusion in the way we work as well as the services we deliver.

Andrew Lawrence, Chair of our Board 

Andrew Lawrence, chair of the Bron Afon Board

Alan Brunt, Chief Executive 

Alan Brunt

 

Our Vision

Our vision is that equality, diversity and inclusion is firmly embedded in our work. We aspire to understand, reflect and meet the needs of our communities by providing excellent services that are accessible, inclusive and non-discriminatory. As an employer, we value diversity within our workforce and want to create a supportive environment where everyone feels valued and able to be themselves.

We have six overarching objectives that support our strategic vision:

  1. To make a strong commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, supported by visible and effective leadership.
  2. To provide excellent services for our customers that are shaped by them, which are responsive, non-discriminatory and seek to deliver continuous improvement.
  3. To encourage and facilitate the involvement of customers in shaping the design and delivery of high quality, accessible and continuously improving services.
  4. To gather and securely hold equality and diversity-related data on our customers, staff and board members, and use this to identify areas for future improvement.
  5. To raise awareness of our commitment to, and the benefits of, equality, diversity and inclusion internally and externally which will include supporting diversity awareness events.
  6. To recruit, develop and retain a diverse, talented and motivated workforce and create an inclusive and supportive workplace where everyone feels valued and able to be themselves without fear of or experiencing abuse or discrimination.

We have developed this strategy with input from key stakeholders. Their feedback identified the following areas which are reflected in this strategy:

  • Continue to build on the work we’ve already done (mental well-being, LGBT, customer profiling),
  • Stronger alignment of this strategy with our Corporate Plan commitments,
  • A greater focus on diversity within the workforce,
  • Addressing gender and disability imbalance at certain levels of the organisation and;
  • Ensuring our contractors adopt our commitments.

In developing this strategy, we have not only focused on the need to comply with legislative and regulatory requirements, but also on our values. We recognise that it is about moving beyond compliance to delivering excellence on equality, diversity and inclusion issues. Our Board members and staff are expected to support these commitments. We will work with and encourage our partners and the contractors we use to do the same.

Introduction

Our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion supports a number of the commitments identified in our 2018-2023 Corporate Plan under the themes:

  • People
  • Homes,
  • Communities
  • Our Business

There is a strong business case for our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion in service provision and the workplace. At its heart, equality, diversity and inclusion is about:

  • Knowing our customers and tailoring our services to meet their individual needs. Collecting and using customer profiling information to give us a good knowledge base means we can then use it to tailor and develop our services, to inform equality analysis, maintain customer satisfaction and drive service improvements.
  • Welcoming differences (of gender, sexuality, race, age, social background, physical and mental ability, and even differences of thought and experience) to create an inclusive and supportive workplace, where everyone feels valued, performs at their best and can be themselves without fear of or experiencing abuse or discrimination.

This strategy is not intended to be viewed in isolation, as it directly links to our Organisational Development Strategy 2018-2023, Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2018-2023, Inclusion and Support Strategy 2018-2021 and Service Access Strategy 2016-2019.

We recognise that this strategy marks the continuation of our journey and sets out what we need to do next – setting out our priorities to mainstream equality, diversity and inclusion within every activity undertaken by us, resulting in progress that is meaningful, achievable and sustainable.

Background – where are we now?

The Equality Act 2010 stipulates that people and organisations cannot discriminate, harass or victimise a person who may be identified under any of the nine protected characteristics: age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race and religion. This strategy aims to bring together activities, services and commitments from all our services in pursuit of a shared vision.

From a regulatory perspective, we are required to provide choices, information and communication that are appropriate to the diverse needs of customers. We must also treat customers with fairness and respect, whilst understanding their different needs.

Over the life of the previous strategy, our successes have included:

  • Improved equality and diversity profiling data held on tenants.
  • Completion of a Welsh Language Skills audit of staff.
  • Introduction of an equality and diversity training plan, supporting diversity awareness days – Stonewall Season, Dementia Awareness Week and Hate Crime Awareness Week.
  • Delivering equality and diversity training for staff and Board members.
  • Developing equality and diversity related e-learning training modules.
  • Delivering Welsh in the Workplace training to 18 members of staff.
  • Equality and diversity is now part of induction for Board members/new staff.
  • Moving to a more cost effective translation/ interpretation service.
  • Introduction of staff diversity champions.
  • Introduction of a Mental Well-being Policy.
  • Introduction of an Equality Impact Assessment Toolkit.

Welfare reform

Proportionally, more people in Wales are reliant on welfare benefits than in England and Scotland, meaning that reductions in both in-work and out-of-work benefits are having a greater impact in Wales. Our experience of the Direct Payment Demonstration Project has shaped our proactive approach – establishing tenancy support roles and starting our pre-tenancy work much earlier, which led to positive outcomes for 100s of tenants. This continues locally, through our links with the Torfaen and Gwent welfare reform partnerships and nationally though our involvement in Welsh Government task groups.

Disability

Research previously undertaken by the EHRC, showed that there is a shortage of accessible and adaptable homes in Wales. Providing enough affordable housing for local people is a challenge for all landlords and we are proud to be helping the Welsh Government meet its target of building 20,000 new affordable homes, by building 450 affordable new homes over the coming years.

Gender

  • We won the Pat Chown Award for a joint-project ‘Free from Fear’ with other partners for setting up a website portal for housing staff to use when responding to reports, incidents and disclosure of domestic abuse.
  • The Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Is Wales Fairer? 2018  considers that traditional gender roles, norms and stereotypes are continuing…women are still more likely to be in low-pay occupations than men. We are committed to developing an action plan to fully understand the underlying reasons behind the gender pay gap and put in place activities to target the identified areas.
  • The Is Wales Fairer? 2018 EHRC report also notes that 7 out of 10 new mothers have had a negative or potentially discriminatory experience at work as a result of pregnancy or maternity. To show our commitment in the workplace, we have already signed up to the EHRC’s Working Forward pledge established by the EHRC, follows its landmark research which shows pregnancy and maternity discrimination and disadvantage at work affects around 390,000 pregnant women and new mothers across Britain each year.

Race/Religion

The EHRC Is Wales Fairer? 2018 found that 75% of hate crimes reported and recorded in Wales in 2016/17 were motivated by race or religion. In 2017/2018 we received 13 reports of hate related incidents. This is very low against our Torfaen community profile covering the protected characteristics. In the same time period, Gwent Police received 400 reports from across Gwent. We play a key role in the Crime and Community Safety Partnership and it is widely recognised that as a landlord we are instrumental in the success of resolving a wide range of community safety matters.

Stakeholders

Customers are key stakeholders in the context of equality, diversity and inclusion. Our strategy and plans aim to ensure that we better understand their needs and requirements, and facilitate fair and equal access to service provision.

Our Board has overall strategic responsibility for equality, diversity and inclusion and therefore requires on-going assurance that our strategy and plans are adequate and effective, and that we comply with legal and regulatory requirements. The Board will receive annual updates that set out our progress and performance in delivering this strategy.

Senior Management Team (SMT) endorses and collectively own the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy. The equality, diversity and inclusion sponsor (Director of Organisational Development) will ensure that our strategic intent translates into practical results on the ground.

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Delivery Group will include heads of service/managers from key business areas. This group has a critical role in translating the vision and strategic action plan into delivery by overseeing, monitoring delivery and reporting on progress.

Staff are fundamental in supporting the delivery of our strategy and action plan. Our progress will be regularly promoted internally to raise awareness and to maintain momentum. Through our internal processes and monitoring we will ensure that equality of opportunity for all staff is maintained.

Diversity Champions include staff representatives from across the business who have an interest in equality, diversity and inclusion. This is a great personal development opportunity as well as playing a central role in helping to facilitate change over time in the practices of the organisation. The diversity champions have some great stories to tell – how they learn from each other, share ideas and experiences, challenge inappropriate behaviour/language.

 

Our partners, suppliers and regulators need to be assured that we have adequate strategies and plans in place to identify and mitigate any issues and associated risks. We will publish our Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy to display our commitment to our approach and continue to provide information as requested. We will continue to work with equality and diversity related organisations such as Tai Pawb, Stonewall Cymru, Umbrella Cymru to build on the

commitments we have made in this area to collectively utilise our experience and insight to make a difference to the workplace and service delivery.

Delivering the vision

The below outlines how we intend to realise our visions. The actions below build upon business as usual activities.

To make a strong commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, supported by visible and effective leadership.

 

How we will achieve it

  • Publish an Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy, supported by a policy and action plan with clear organisational objectives and mechanisms to monitor progress.
  • Carry out a skills audit to understand what equality and diversity skills and knowledge there is on the Board.
  • Provide the Board with equality, diversity and inclusion briefings/information and relevant training.
  • Take equality, diversity and inclusion considerations into account as plans and service improvement initiatives are developed and implemented by undertaking Equality Impact Assessments; and develop a monitoring framework to understand the impact these are having.
  • Raise awareness of and provide one to one support/training to staff involved in relation to Equality Impact Assessments.
  • Report annually to the Board and quarterly to SMT and Staffing Committee on the progress we are making in delivering our strategy and plans.

To provide excellent services for our customers that are shaped by them, which are responsive, non-discriminatory and seek to deliver continuous improvement.

How we will achieve it

  • Ensure the commitments of our Welsh Language Scheme continue to be implemented – this includes providing information in Welsh to our Welsh speaking customers.
  • Where appropriate, provide information in accessible formats such as large print, braille, audio and offer an interpretation and translation service.
  • Record and analyse the usage of translation and interpretation.
  • Ensure all policies and procedures, including aids and adaptations, allocations etc., facilitate equality of opportunity.
  • Consider and accommodate diversity considerations in the design of new developments.

To encourage and facilitate the involvement of customers in shaping the design and delivery of high quality, accessible and continuously improving services.

How we will achieve it

  • Build stronger links with under-represented customers and the community.
  • Empower our customers through formal involvement structures to scrutinise, monitor and review our services.
  • Provide equality and diversity training to involved members to ensure they are equipped to constructively challenge the organisation.

To gather and securely hold equality and diversity-related data on our customers, staff and board members, monitor and assess our progress and identify areas for future improvement.

 

How we will achieve it

  • Continue to collect and improve the quality and comprehensiveness of the customer and Board profiling information that we hold in relation to the protected characteristics.
  • Collect staff profiling information in relation to the protected characteristics.
  • Analyse and monitor the information we hold to identify any underlying trends. Utilise this insight to design services and support that are tailored and responsive to need.
  • Ensure that all data collection, storage and profiling is informed by best practice, undertaken confidentially and in line with the Data Protection Act 2018.

To raise awareness of our commitment to, and the benefits of, equality, diversity and inclusion internally and externally which will include supporting diversity awareness events.

How we will achieve it

  • Publish the progress of the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy. This will include information on customer and staff profiles to ensure transparency.
  • Communicate the progress of the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy regularly to our customers via our website and social media and existing communication channels.
  • Communicate the progress of our equality, diversity and inclusion related activities regularly to staff via Payslip News, Real Talk, and Buzz, our intranet.
  • Make a clear public commitment by signing up to charters, frameworks, campaigns and external accreditations, where these add value to our work.
  • Develop further the dedicated equality, diversity and inclusion section on Buzz with information and guidance to raise awareness, knowledge and understanding.
  • Create an interactive diversity e- calendar to be published on Buzz to ensure that staff are aware of and encouraged to attend upcoming events.

To recruit, develop and retain a diverse, talented and motivated workforce and create an inclusive and supportive workplace where everyone feels valued and able to be themselves without fear of, or experiencing abuse or discrimination.

How we will achieve it

  • Continue to provide equality, diversity and inclusion training to all staff and support their understanding of how they can apply the principles in their day to day work.
  • Encourage all staff to take advantage of opportunities for training, learning and development.
  • Monitor recruitment by the nine protected characteristics to ensure equal opportunities in employment in our office.
  • Review recruitment process and where vacancies are advertised to ensure wider range of applicants for future vacancies.
  • Ensure staff involved in recruitment have completed mandatory training to ensure fair recruitment processes.
  • Review communications used in the recruitment process to ensure that our values are reflected in these.
  • Develop an action plan to fully understand the underlying reasons behind the gender pay gap and put in place activities to target the identified areas.
  • Continue to conduct regular staff satisfaction surveys and use the insight gained to drive service improvements.

Resources

The Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy will be delivered within existing resources and therefore requires no additional budget.

The effort and involvement of staff across the organisation will be required to deliver our action plan, but this can primarily be achieved on a business as usual basis.

Membership of the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Delivery Group and Diversity Champions will have a time implication, namely attendance at meetings and the completion of any resultant actions. These will be carried out in addition to usual duties.

There may be some future monetary commitment should we seek external assistance (e.g. training, external accreditation). This may carry some financial impact.

 

Monitoring and responsibilities

Our Board has overall responsibility of equality, diversity and inclusion and is responsible for reviewing progress and performance annually.

Responsibility for the delivery of the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy will be led by the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Delivery Group and the Equality and Diversity Advisor with sponsorship from the Director of Organisational Development.

Reports on progress will be made quarterly to SMT and annually to Staffing Committee and the Board. Our priorities and plans will be assessed and updated annually.

We will establish an Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Delivery Group to support the implementation of this strategy, the proposed details of which are as follows:

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Delivery Group

Membership

Heads of services and managers representing key front line business areas and teams across the organisation with support from corporate functions, such as HR and Communications.

 

Frequency

This group will meet quarterly to maintain oversight over the progress of the actions in the action plan.

 

Responsibility

The Group will:

  • Translate the vision and strategic action plan into delivery by overseeing, monitoring delivery and reporting on progress.
  • Manage the delivery of the action plan providing updates on progress at the quarterly meetings.
  • Be responsible for approving self- assessments and submissions for accreditations and commissioning related work.

 

Strong and consistent communication between this group and the Diversity Champions will be critical to the successful delivery of the strategy.

Risks

The Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy and associated actions aim to mitigate the following key areas of risk:

  • Failure to meet legal obligations and regulatory requirements.
  • Failure to realise the benefits of a diverse workforce.
  • Failure to fully understand and meet the diverse needs of customers, preventing us from providing tailored services and achieving the highest levels of customer satisfaction.
  • Poor staff relations resulting in higher sickness and turnover rates.
  • Failure to respond to changes, including opportunities and threats in the external operating environment.

Measuring our impact

Measuring the impact of our Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy will consist of:

  • An increased percentage of information held against protected characteristics for our staff, customers and Board.
  • Greater awareness of equality, diversity and inclusion by staff and customers. We will look to measure the impact of our education and communication with staff via a periodic survey.
  • The achievement of external accreditations. This can be seen as an endorsement that we are meeting the required standard by the industry leads and is a clear public commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • An annual review and update of our action plan to ensure a robust process of monitoring the outputs, outcomes and impact of this strategy is in place.