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Agenda item

Sheffield City Council's Equality Duties

Report of the Head of Policy and Partnerships



The Committee received a report of the Head of Policy and Partnerships outlining the City Council’s statutory duties in terms of equality, and providing an overview of the work undertaken by the Equalities Team to meet those duties.  The report also attached, as appendices, which were embedded into the report, a leaflet setting out the Equality Objectives 2019-23 and the Council’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy Statement 2017.




In attendance for this item were Laurie Brennan (Head of Policy and Partnerships), Diane Owens (Senior Equalities and Engagement Officer) and Rosie May (Development Officer, Equalities and Engagement).




Members of the Committee raised questions, and the following responses were provided:-




·             Human Resources had carried out detailed analysis of the Council’s workforce and an Annual Workforce Equality Report was produced thereon.  The report, which provided detailed analysis across a range of areas, including disability, sex, sexual orientation and ethnicity, would be evaluated to see if any new action was required.  The report was due to be submitted to the Strategic Equality and Inclusion Board, and signed off by the relevant Cabinet Member.  The Equality and Engagement Team also produced an Annual Equality Report, which outlined some key examples in terms of work that had been undertaken to meet the Council's statutory duties and equality objectives.




·             The Equality and Engagement Team provided advice, guidance and system support in terms of Equality Impact Assessments (EIA).  EIAs were used as a way of systematically assessing the effects and potential disproportionate impacts that a proposed policy or decision was likely to have on different groups of people, including women, BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic), termed as having protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.  EIAs should inform decision-making, and remain live to enable them to be updated as new information becomes known, for example from an engagement exercise or if any changes occur.




·       There was a need for a better understanding of how aims were measured.  As a large public sector organisation, the Council’s equality objectives inevitably covered a broad range of topics, and also reflected areas of persistent inequality, many of which reflect challenges at a national level.  The Council’s workforce focussed objective (Equality Objective 2 - “Ensure our workforce reflects the people that we serve”) highlighted three specific aims, and was delivered and monitored through the HR led Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan.  For each of the three remaining objectives, the Equality and Engagement Team has outlined three aims, and would report against these through its annual equality reporting.  




·             The issue of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was picked up by Portfolios during any communications with the public, and as part of any asks with regard to equality monitoring.




·             The Council established the Equality Hub Network in 2014, with the aim of strengthening the voice and influence of communities of identity in the City.  The Network comprised seven hubs, representing different communities of identity, including age, LGBT+ and BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee), and meetings were held four times a year, at a location in the City Centre.  The idea of the Network was to bring under-represented communities and decision-makers together to work for positive change.  There was a website and a separate Facebook page for each of the seven hubs.  Members of the hubs were invited to events and meetings by email, and details of events and meetings were posted on the Network’s website and on the respective hubs Facebook pages.  The Equalities and Engagement Team, along with the voluntary sector “Support Organisations” that were funded to support the hubs, were always striving to attract more members, particularly to increase attendance at meetings and involvement in activities.  The Team was planning to work with colleagues in Communications in order to promote the hubs.  Suggestions had been made with regard to holding  meetings at different locations around the City, in order to make it easier for members to attend meetings. Plans were being made to pilot this in connection with the Age Hub, with plans for similar arrangements for the other hubs if successful.  It was accepted that the current operation had room for improvement, but it was considered that the Network represented an effective way of reaching out to people who needed a stronger voice.  There were approximately 300 people on the mailing lists for each of the seven hubs.  An external review had been undertaken of the Network in 2016, following which a number of recommendations had been made, some of which had been implemented.  Officers had visited other local authorities, and had spoken to colleagues in other local authorities, in order to discuss best practice with regard to the Network.  Although it wasn’t done at the moment, consideration would be given to analysing and/or collecting postal addresses of members of the Network, and also communicating channels other than online, on the basis that several people, particularly the elderly, would not be online, and would find it difficult to access information regarding events and meetings.




RESOLVED: That the Committee:-




(a)      notes the contents of the report now submitted, together with the comments now made and the responses to the questions raised;




(b)      thanks Laurie Brennan, Diane Owens and Rosie May for attending the meeting and responding to the questions raised; and




(c)      requests that:-




(i)              future Annual Equality Reports be submitted to this Committee for consideration, and should include details on the measurement of the success of the objectives set out in the Reports;


(ii)             in terms of the Equality Hub Networks, consideration be given to collecting data on which areas of the City attendees at meetings came from and publicising meetings/events; and


(iii)            the Equality Hub Newsletter be sent to all Members of the Council.


Supporting documents: