Agenda item

Principles of Equality and Diversity in the workplace

To discuss Equality and Diversity in the workplace.


Trustees considered principles of equality and diversity in the workplace and how this was applied by the Trust and the following points were made:


  • The Equality Act 2010 legally protected people from discrimination in the workplace and wider society across a range of protected characteristics comprising age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnerships, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or beliefs, sex and sexual orientation. The Equality Act 2010 had also introduced a single equality duty on public bodies which required them to eliminate conduct prohibited by the Act, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations across all characteristics.  The CoLAT Central Team had actively responded to this duty by designing policy, practice and training that aimed to eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation, by making reasonable adjustments for staff and students and by acting on and analysing any complaints to challenge and develop practice.  A number of actions had also been taken to advance equal opportunities including the establishment of the People, Equalities and Inclusion Committee, data collection and monitoring and an Equal Opportunities Statement and Policy.  The Trust also took an active role in fostering good relations across its family of academies by promoting education and understanding, ensuring materials were representative of the diversity of the Trust’s population and that all materials were inclusive in image, language and intent.


  • The Chair emphasised the need to consider the extent to which the Trust’s staffing demographic reflected the communities its academies served, providing positive role models for success.  Data collection on protected characteristics would be key to capturing a clear picture of the Trust’s current position which, once analysed, would identify areas where decisions could be taken regarding the need to enhance representation by recruitment and development opportunities at all levels across the Trust.  A Trustee noted that it would also be important to identify the experience of staff working within the culture of the Trust and suggested that annual equality gap reporting be undertaken to demonstrate the Trust’s commitment to equality and diversity in the workplace. 


  • A Trustee observed that there was also a need to build diversity at governance level in the Trust and agreed to raise this with the Trust’s sponsor, which appointed the majority of Trustees.  Another Trustee queried whether it would be possible to make an external appointment to the People, Equalities and Inclusion Committee to broaden the perspective of the Committee and the Chair of the Board of Trustees agreed to discuss this with the Chief Financial Officer following the meeting.  If it was possible to appoint external candidates to the Board’s committees, consideration would need to be given to a robust process for identifying strong external candidates, which could include an open recruitment process.  A Co-opted Trustee had access to a range of best practice in this area and agreed to draw up a list of professionals with insight in building diverse and inclusive organisations who could offer advice and guidance to the Committee.


  • In response to a question from a Trustee, the Human Resources Director advised that some individual academies across the Trust undertook staff surveys but did not necessarily share this date with the CoLAT Central Team.  The CoLAT Central Team was committed to lead on a data gathering exercise from a whole-Trust perspective; however, there was limitation on resources within the Central Human Resources function which would need to be addressed before this could be taken forward. The Chair suggested that an initial focus on Senior Leadership data might be more deliverable.  The Committee agreed to set a target of completing an all-staff survey demonstrating how the Trust was meeting its Public Sector Equality Duty by the end of the 2021/22 academic year, including salary data on the Senior Leaders across the Trust’s academies.  The Chair of the Board of Trustees further agreed to discuss resource implications of this work for the HR Central function with the Chief Executive Officer.  


  • A Co-opted Trustee advised that national and international media organisations tended to have strong diversity and inclusion cultures and often undertook volunteering work as part of corporate social responsibility strategies.  The Trustee suggested this might present an opportunity to bring diverse role models from aspirational industries into Trust academies and this would be followed up after the meeting. 


RESOLVED, that the discussion be noted.

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