Equality and Diversity Policy

1. Policy statement

1.1 Amnesty International UK (AIUK) exists to protect individuals wherever justice, fairness, freedom and truth are denied. Promoting equality and valuing diversity are fundamental to our mission.

1.2 The principles of inclusiveness, tolerance and fairness are central to our legitimacy as an organisation that campaigns for universal enjoyment of human rights, without discrimination.

1.3 This policy exists to ensure equal access to the employment and service opportunities that are available in every dimension of our work.

1.4  We will not accept unfair discrimination or less favourable treatment on the grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion or belief, disability, marriage and civil partnership, gender re-assignment, pregnancy and maternity or trade union activity (see section 6 for definitions) as an employer or in the running of our organisation.

1.5 This policy is fully supported by AIUK's Board, Director and senior management team who have given clear direction and leadership that promoting equality is a priority.

1.6 The commitments in this policy underpin all other AIUK policies.

2. Policy Aims

2.1 The aim of this policy is to create an organisation where; 

  • Every person is able to give of their best.
  • Decisions are fair and based on merit, competence and potential.
  • In our work we take account of individuals' experiences and needs.
  • Unfair discrimination is not tolerated.

2.2 We understand that to do this we will need to address the root causes and impacts of stereotyping, prejudice, discrimination, harassment and victimisation as well as the indirect discrimination that can unintentionally arise from our policies, practices and procedures. 

2.3 Through this policy we also aim to;

  • Attract and retain members, supporters, activists, staff, volunteers, Board members, contractors, consultants and visitors that reflect the diverse communities in which we operate and who are committed to our equality principles. 
  • Build an organisational culture that is tolerant, open and inclusive and where people feel safe, where differences are accepted, engagement is apparent and the contributions of all are encouraged, valued and respected. 
  • Mainstream equality into every aspect of our work including employment fundraising, campaigning, marketing, publishing, events, procurement and facilities management so that we can meet the needs of all our stakeholders.

3. Policy Implementation

3.1 In order to translate this policy into action we will; 

  • Consult, engage with, and learn from our stakeholders in the development and delivery of an equality action plan and on our work more broadly.
  • Monitor and collect evidence on the impact of our policies, practices, procedures and workplace cultures on equality issues.
  • Implement tailored positive actions to respond to the evidence we collect.
  • Levelling the playing field for disabled people through the provision of reasonable adjustments for disabled individuals
  • Train our staff and volunteers, including board members and consultants working with AIUK for more than a month to carry out this policy and embed equality principles into all relevant training including induction.
  • Communicate this policy to all our stakeholders so that they are aware of our commitment to treat them fairly and their obligation to operate in line with this policy.  
  • Take appropriate action when incidents occur which breach this policy (see section 8).
  • Regularly monitor and review the success of this policy in promoting equality and evaluate the relevance and effectiveness of our action plan.

4. Our Legal Duties

4.1 The Equality Act 2010 replaced a number of existing anti-discrimination laws to simplify and strengthen equality law, removing inconsistencies and making it easier for people to understand and comply.

4.2 This policy is the instrument through which we comply with our obligations as an employer and a service provider  as set out in the Act. As such all our stakeholders need to understand the protections and obligations conferred on them by the Act.

4.3 The purpose of the Act is that everyone has the right to be treated fairly at work or when using services. It protects people from discrimination by employers and service providers on the basis of nine protected characteristics;

  • Age 
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership 
  • Pregnancy and maternity 
  • Race 
  • Religion or belief 
  • Sex/Gender 
  • Sexual orientation

4.4 Trade union representatives and members also have legal protection against unfair treatment on the ground of trade union activity.  We will not treat employees unfairly on the grounds of trade union membership or non-membership. Unfair treatment includes dismissal and subjecting employees to detrimental treatment.  We respect the right of staff to join a trade union of their choosing if they so wish.

4.5 The Equality Act protects our members, activists, staff, volunteers, Board members, contractors, consultants and visitors against; 

  • Direct discrimination: This occurs where, because of a protected characteristic, a person receives worse treatment than someone who does not have that characteristic. For example, an employee is turned down for a job because their manager believes that their sexual orientation will prevent them gaining their team's respect. Age is the only protected characteristic that allows employers to justify direct discrimination.
  • Discrimination by association: This is discrimination against someone because they associate with another person who possesses a protected characteristic. For example, a cis-gendered man is treated less favourably at an event because of his friendship with an trans man.
  • Perception discrimination: This is discrimination against an individual because others think (incorrectly) that they possess a protected characteristic. For example, an employee is not offered the chance to represent her company at a major event because her line manager believes she has mental health issues.
  • Indirect discrimination: This occurs when there is a policy or a practice that applies to everyone but which particularly disadvantages people with a protected characteristic compared with people who do not have that characteristic. For example, including unnecessary criteria, that are more difficult for people with a particular protected characteristic to meet, in a person specification for a job.
  • Harassment: This is unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual (See AIUK's bullying and harassment policy).
  • Victimisation:This occurs when a person is treated less favourably than someone else because they have complained about discrimination, or are suspected of doing so or have supported someone else who has.

4.6 Disabled people are specifically protected against discrimination 'arising from disability'. For example they would be protected from an employer penalising them from taking regular comfort breaks to manage chronic pain when they would reasonably be expected to know that the employee has a disability. This type of discrimination is only justifiable if an employer can show that it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

4.7 Disabled people also have a legal right to reasonable adjustments from their service provider or employer. For example, through the provision of specific software, furniture or lighting.

4.8 A person is protected against discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy and maternity during the period of their pregnancy and any statutory maternity leave to which they are entitled. For more information see AIUK's maternity policy.

4.9 Finally, it would be discrimination to treat someone less favourably for being absent from work in connection with gender reassignment than they would be treated if they were absent because they were ill or injured.

4.10  We expect our activists, staff, volunteers, Board members, contractors, consultants and visitors to behave in accordance with the above provisions.

4.11  We will make our commitment to equality clear in our working with members, supporters and donors,

5. Beyond Compliance with the Law

5.1 Gender Mainstreaming was identified as an organisational priority in the global Integrated Strategic Plan and our UK focused Strategic Directions 2011-2016. This work will build on the success of our Stop the Violence Against Women and Women's Human Rights programmes.

6. Definitions and Further Explanations

This policy is based on the following definitions and explanations.

Disability is defined by the Equality Act as a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Long-term means has lasted, or is expected to last, for 12 months.  Included in this definition are: 

  • Physical impairments (including asthma, diabetes, epilepsy etc).
  • Sensory impairments such as hearing impairment or visual impairment.
  • Severe facial disfigurement.
  • Progressive conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis or HIV infection.
  • People who have had an impairment in the past but have since recovered (such as cancer, mental health issues).

AIUK supports the social model of disability that states that disability is created by society's barriers and not by particular medical conditions or impairments. Removing these barriers, which disable people who have impairments, can therefore reduce disability.

Barriers can be: 

  • Prejudice and stereotypes
  • Inflexible organisational procedures and practices
  • Inaccessible information
  • Inaccessible building 
  • Inaccessible transport

7 Roles and Responsibilities

7.1 AIUK Board's responsibility is to; 

  • Own and monitor implementation of this policy

7.2 AIUK Director's responsibility is to; 

  • Take responsibility for delivery of this policy.
  • Provide strong leadership on equality.
  • Drive delivery of the Equality Action Plan.
  • Work closely with the Equality Leadership Committee to monitor progress

7.3 Our Senior Management and Leadership Team's responsibility is to; 

  • Act as equality champions and role models.
  • Implement this policy and integrate equality into the work of AIUK.
  • Approve the Equality Action Plan and oversee its implementation.
  • Ensure staff and volunteers are fully aware of their individual and collective responsibilities under this policy.
  • Prioritise attendance at equality training to equip staff, volunteers and consultants working with us for over a month with the competences needed to comply with this policy and deliver the action plan.
  • Respond to allegations of discrimination and harassment fairly, quickly and effectively.

7.4  Our Human Resources team's responsibility is to; 

  • Provide equality induction, equality training and other development opportunities to build equality competence and ensure all are attended.
  • Investigate and deal promptly with any incidents or individual behaviours that contravene this policy.
  • Produce timely, accurate and appropriate equality management information on staff and volunteers, including the Board, to inform decision-making.
  • Create and deliver initiatives that will translate this policy into positive action.
  • Set up effective systems to ensure that positive action on equality is continuously evaluated and improved.
  • The Head of Human Resources is responsible for raising staff & volunteer awareness of their responsibilities under equality and diversity legislation.

7.5 Our line managers' responsibility is to; 

  • Build specific actions into their team and individual's goals that contribute to the delivery of this policy as part of the organisational, individual and project planning processes.
  • Support staff, volunteers and consultants to prioritise delivery of the equality action plan.
  • Check that staff, volunteers and consultants are aware of this policy and understand their rights and responsibilities contained within it.
  • Role model behaviour that supports this policy and challenge those they manage to do the same.
  • Allocate their time and support and any training or development opportunities objectively, fairly and without discrimination.
  • Communicate regularly with their teams about equality issues in a way that keeps this policy and its action plan live and central to our mission.

7.6  All staff have a responsibility to; 

  • Treat others with dignity and respect.
  • Report discrimination, bullying, unfair treatment or harassment that they experience or witness
  • Help identify discriminatory practices or procedures and bring these to the attention of their line managers, union representatives, or HR.
  • Contribute to creating an inclusive learning environment that values difference.
  • Attend mandatory staff training and development events. 
  • Express opinions constructively with sensitivity and respect.
  • Support the work of the Equality and Diversity group when required.
  • Play an active part in delivering the Equality Action Plan.

7.7  Our volunteers' roles are to 

  • Play their part in creating an environment where people are valued and respected.
  • Treat others with dignity and respect.
  • Report discrimination, bullying, unfair treatment or harassment that they experience or witness
  • Help identify discriminatory practices or procedures and bring these to our attention.
  • Express opinions constructively with sensitivity and respect.

7.8 Our service providers', contractors' and consultants' responsibility is to operate within the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and the terms of this policy. A copy of the Equality Policy will be given to all contractors and consultants and an assessment of their commitment to complying will form part of any formal tendering process. 

8. Monitoring and Implementation

8.1  Ultimate responsibility for monitoring the implementation of this policy rests with the AIUK Director. However each and every individual involved in AIUK needs to play their part in translating policy into practice.

8.2 On a day-to-day basis breaches of this policy could occur at a number of levels some requiring a more urgent response than others

8.3 If staff or volunteers find examples of indirect discrimination in AIUK policies and procedures you should bring this to the attention of your line manager and / or the Union. They can then consider the issue and respond as appropriate.

8.4 Members, supporters, activists, contractors, consultants and visitors should speak to, their named contact at AIUK, the supporter care team, the nearest member of staff or use the existing feedback process depending on the seriousness and urgency of the issue.

8.5 Should staff or volunteers experience or witness more severe breaches of this policy, perhaps involving direct discrimination against an individual or bullying and harassment then you have a number of options including: 

  • speaking to the individual(s) involved
  • contacting Human Resources
  • talking to your trade union representative
  • speaking to one of our Bullying and Harassment advisers
  • talking to your line manager
  • phoning our employee assistance line Tel 0800 919 709
  • Whichever option you chose you are strongly encourage to take action. Cases of this nature will then most likely be dealt with through AIUK's grievance, disciplinary, whistle blowing, or bullying and harassment policies.

8.6  We will take action where needed to address any inequalities that are surfaced through the implementation of this policy.

8.7 A formal annual review of the policy and action plan will be led by the HR team with the Union,and agreed by SMT for reporting to the Board. The review will focus on tracking progress, identifying challenges to delivery and devising ways to overcome these as well as checking that the policy aims and actions remain relevant. 

9. AIUK Policies that Support Equality and Diversity

Although the principles set out in this policy underlie all our policies at AIUK, it should be particularly be read in conjunction with the following policies:

a) Staff 

  • Bullying and Harassment
  • Recruitment and Selection
  • Flexible working
  • Childcare
  • Maternity/Paternity/Adoption
  • Retirement

b) Volunteers 

  • Volunteer Policy

c) Consultants and contractors 

  • Code of  Conduct

d) Activists 

  • Activists' Code of Conduct


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