Tag: Equality

The Inclusive Assembly: Diversity and Inclusion

By Holly Pembridge, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, National Assembly for Wales

This week, we are celebrating Diversity and Inclusion Week in the Assembly, which is a series of events and other awareness-raising activities to promote and celebrate us being a diverse and inclusive organisation. We will post a new blog article each day this week. As part of this week, it therefore seems an apt time to reflect on the work that has gone into nurturing an inclusive organisational culture since the Assembly was established. As we begin to develop a new Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and Plan for the Fifth Assembly, we look at how we can continue to build equality, diversity and inclusion considerations into our role as an employer and as an organisation that interacts with the people of Wales.

Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Vision and Values

Our vision is to be an exemplar organisation in our commitment to promoting equality, valuing diversity and respecting human rights. Our values include the notion that equality of opportunity for all is a basic human right and actively oppose all forms of discrimination. We strive to create an accessible parliamentary body, which engages with and respects all of the people of Wales.

“I believe it is important that the Assembly leads the way in promoting an inclusive organisational culture and that it is a modern, accessible parliamentary body with which people from a diverse range of backgrounds can easily and meaningfully interact. It is incumbent on us as the National Assembly for Wales to lead on this and share our experiences, ensuring that the values of equality, diversity and inclusion are respected and practiced by all, ” said Elin Jones AM, LLywydd, National Assembly for Wales.

Fostering an inclusive, collaborative organisational culture

Here, we are keen to ensure that people can realise their full potential and make contributions when they can be themselves in their working environment. To this end, we organise awareness-raising information and events regularly in order to generate discussion and promote an inclusive culture where difference is celebrated and valued. One way in which the Assembly has signalled to its workforce that it is committed to doing this is by encouraging the establishment of self-managed workplace equality networks. We have networks for LGBT people and their allies; disabled people and their allies, people who identify as Black Minority Ethnic (BME) and their allies; people who identify as working parents and carers; and women and men. People who contribute to the networks do so in addition to their day jobs. It is safe to say that the existence of networks helps to promote inter-cultural insight, foster good relations and offer solutions when barriers to inclusion might arise or have the potential to arise. The concepts of peer support and providing a ‘safe space’ where people can raise issues or offer suggestions for improvement are invaluable and we have examples of where workplace policies and practices have been enhanced. For more information about the Assembly’s workplace equality networks, contact diversity@assembly.wales

Engaging with a diverse range of people inside and outside the Assembly

Having a highly visible Diversity and Inclusion team dedicated to the co-ordination of this work across the Assembly has been beneficial for two reasons in particular. Firstly, good practice and collaborative working with colleagues across the different teams can ensure that we are constantly striving as an organisation to maintain and enhance an inclusive organisational culture. Secondly, we have been able to work with teams across the Assembly and involve people from both in and outside the Assembly to optimise our accessibility to the people of Wales. Our Outreach Team works with individuals and organisations from communities across Wales, raising awareness of the work of the Assembly and encouraging people to become involved in its work.

As a Diversity and Inclusion Team, we value the opportunities we have had to share best practice and learn from others both inside and outside of the Assembly. It is crucial that organisations share where things have worked well and not so well; it saves time and energy and can help to re-focus priorities.

If you would like to help shape the Assembly’s new Diversity and Inclusion Plan, please take our very short survey or contact the Diversity Team on 0300 200 7455 or diversity@assembly.wales

 

 

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia – a celebration of sexual and gender diversity

rainbow flag

Ross Davies, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at the National Assembly for Wales

Each year on 17 May, people across the world mark International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) to celebrate the diversity of gender identities and sexual orientations. The day is used by campaigners to highlight important issues to policy makers, leaders, the public and the media to help combat hatred, bigotry and discrimination.

The campaign provides a voice to people facing marginalisation because they do not conform to a heteronormative narrative (the assumption that heterosexuality is normal and that anything other than heterosexuality is abnormal) or a cisgender narrative (people whose gender identity matches the sex that society assigned to them when they were born).

Many of the issues that are addressed on IDAHOBIT come from the ‘othering’ of a group because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, often based on prejudice and stereotypes.

While there is the tendency to talk about the LGBT+ community as a singular entity, we must of course remember and celebrate the diversity of LGBT+ people within the community.

People with minority sexual orientations, including people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, ambisexual, are clearly not a homogenous group – age, gender identity, race, disability, religion and many other characteristics underpin their identity.

The same is true for trans people, whose personhood goes beyond their gender identity. Many people may have a narrow understanding of what it means to be trans, and that is someone who undergoes gender reassignment surgery. But the very concept of a trans identity is filled with variances and differing experiences – there are trans men, trans women, people who identify as gender fluid, people who identify as neither male nor female, people who are androgynous.

In the same way that a disabled person is more than their disability and a black person is more than just the colour of their skin, LGBT+ people cannot be limited to one single identity category. To do so would be reductive and would risk producing narrow versions of what it means to be LGBT+.

Having multiple identities can result in different issues of discrimination occurring at the same time. For example, an older lesbian may face discrimination on multiple grounds – as a woman, as an older person and as someone of a minority sexual orientation. However, as a combination of all of these characteristics, an older lesbian might encounter a unique, compounded discrimination.

We must remember to that it is important for people to be recognised as diverse while not denying a commonality, for it is this commonality that unites people when celebrating Pride, or fighting for LGBT+ equality, especially during occasions like IDAHOBIT.

Recognising diversity within the LGBT+ community, it is also important to note that different LGBT+ groups will have different role models. Below are links to some of the role models identified for some of these groups by the University of Warwick Student Union LGBTUA+ Society.

Black and minority ethnic LGBT+ role models

Disabled LGBT+ role models

Women LGBT+ role models

Stonewall have also produced LGBT Voices, a collection of 25 stories from LGBT people who have lived through inequalities.

By acknowledging and valuing the diversity within the LGBT+ community, we can begin to appreciate and truly value the rich tapestry of humanity, and that the concept of an ‘other’ can be damaging to our society and to the individuals involved.

Logo for Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers

An Inclusive Assembly

As an inclusive organisation, the National Assembly for Wales is committed to challenging violence and discrimination and to promoting a culture of fairness, dignity and respect. We are proud to have been listed in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index each year since 2009, rising to third place in 2016 Index. We have been named the Top Public Sector Employer in Wales for the last three years.

OUT-NAW, our award winning LGBT Workplace Equality Network, provide support for LGBT people across the organisation through peer support and mentoring and coaching. They also help us to promote LGBT equality and to consider LGBT equality in our work.

To find out more about working for the Assembly or to review our current vacancies please visit www.Assembly.Wales/jobs

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) History Month 2016

The theme of this year’s LGBT History Month is Religion, Belief & Philosophy.

Logo for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month 2016

Much of the conversation around sexual orientation, gender identity and religion presents as mutually exclusive the rights of religious believers on the one hand, and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people on the other hand. Yet, every day millions of LGBT people around the world combine their faith with their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In November 2013, the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights hosted a discussion on the topic of sexual orientation, gender identity and religion. The event featured a 5-minute video with personal testimonies of religious lesbian and gay people from around the world. Also at the event, a report was presented by Human Rights Without Frontiers entitled LGBT People, the Religions & Human Rights in Europe. In spite of what a polarised debate might suggests, it was argued that the values of freedom, equality and human dignity are the common ground of both religious believers and the defenders of LGBT people’s human rights.

Throughout February, Stonewall, a UK charity promoting LGBT equality, will profile inspirational LGBT people with different faiths / beliefs. The profiles include people who are Sikh, Muslim, Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Humanist.

You can read more about LGBT History Month and the theme of religion, belief and philosophy in the LGBT History Month Magazine or visit the official LGBT History Month website for details of all activities, events and news.

Logo for Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers      Logo for OUT-NAW, the Assembly’s LGBT Workplace Equality Network

Photograph of Assembly LGBT staff and Allies holding the rainbow flag for LGBT History Month
Photograph of Assembly LGBT staff and Allies holding the rainbow flag for LGBT History Month

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the National Assembly we are committed to promoting LGBT equality. As such we are delighted to be ranked third in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index 2016 of the top LGBT-friendly organisations in the UK. We are also very proud to be named as the Top Public Sector Employer in Wales for LGBT people for the third year running.

You can find out more about our work promoting LGBT equality elsewhere on our blog, where we have a number of relevant articles, including LGBT History Month 2015, members of our staff who are Stonewall Cymru Role Models, a Stonewall Cymru student work placement, celebrating Bi Visibility Day, and promoting transgender equality.

For more information on how we value our people and for information on current work opportunities, visit: www.assembly.wales/jobs.

You could also visit the Senedd, the home of the National Assembly for Wales to see a display of some of Stonewall Cymru’s Welsh LGBT role models.

We are proud to have retained the @Autism Access Award for the second year running!

The National Assembly for Wales’s estate has been awarded the National Autistic Society’s Access Award for the second year. The Award is a best practice standard for buildings and facilities, designed to provide assurance to people with autism and their families and carers.  It demonstrates that the facilities are autism-friendly, and that there is a commitment to making sure people with autism can access them.

The Presiding Officer, Dame Rosemary Butler, and Sandy Mewies AM, holding the National Autistic Society Autism Access Award
The Presiding Officer, Dame Rosemary Butler, and Sandy Mewies AM, holding the National Autistic Society Autism Access Award

“This is yet another acknowledgement that the National Assembly takes the issue of equality of access very seriously,” said Presiding Officer, Dame Rosemary Butler AM.

“For democracy to truly work in Wales, its law-making institution must engage with everyone in Wales, and that means ensuring that our facilities, services and information are accessible to all.”

Sandy Mewies AM, the Assembly Commissioner with responsibility for equalities issues, added:

“The Autism Access Award demonstrates that the Assembly is committed to being an accessible venue for visitors who are on the autism spectrum.”

Below are some of the things the Assembly did in order to achieve the accreditation:

  • Created a section on our website dedicated to visitors with autism.  The section provides information links to specifically designed resources in different formats;
  • Established designated quiet areas for people with autism to rest and de-stress;
  • Ensured relevant staff received disability confidence training, which includes a section on autism;
  • Identified Autism Champions from across the organisation;
  • Established links with National Autistic Society;
  • Created a feedback form, to enable continual feedback from visitors with autism.
Logo for the National Autistic Society Access Award
Logo for the National Autistic Society Access Award

Planning to visit the Assembly? Check out our website or contact us by phone, on 0300 200 6565, or email us at mailto:contact@assembly.wales.

International Day of Disabled People – 3 December

Did you know that the Assembly is a disability confident organisation?

To mark International Day of Disabled People, we wanted to let you know about some of the support that we have available for disabled people.

We subscribe to the social model of disability. The social model looks at the barriers erected by society in terms of disabled people being able to access goods and services. It seeks to remove unnecessary barriers which prevent disabled people participating in society, accessing work and living independently. The social model asks what can be done to remove barriers to inclusion. It also recognises that attitudes towards disabilities create unnecessary barriers to inclusion and requires people to take proactive action to remove these barriers.

Positive about disabled people logo
Positive about disabled people logo

To encourage applications from disabled people, we operate the guaranteed interview scheme for disabled people. This scheme guarantees disabled people an interview if they meet the minimum criteria for a job vacancy. We will make reasonable adjustments for disabled candidates invited to interview.

 

 

For our disabled staff:

    • Our staff policies are inclusive of disabled people. For example, we have a robust dignity at work policy to deal with inappropriate behaviour.
    • We have an active disability staff network called EMBRACE, who provide peer support to disabled staff and help us promote disability equality. They also help us to consider the needs of disabled people when making decisions and designing policies.
    • We provide a suite of disability-related training, including training that covers supporting disabled staff and visitors, deaf awareness and BSL training, autism awareness training, and dementia friendly training.
    • We have an onsite Occupational Health Nurse and access to an Employee Assistance Programme that can provide counselling services to staff.

 

Logo for Embrace, our disability staff network
Logo for Embrace, our disability staff network

Here are some quotes from disabled members of staff about their experience of working here:

    • “The willingness with which the Assembly engages with Embrace really makes me feel that it values my opinions and experiences as a disabled member of staff. I am proud to be a member of the network and feel that I am helping to make a real difference to the organisation and its staff.”
    • “My disability has a massive impact on my mobility and affects my working life. The support I have received from the Health and Safety Adviser has been outstanding. They have provided me with equipment to make my working day less painful and therefore more productive. The continuing support I receive from them helps me to remain working and I am extremely grateful to them.”
    • “I have been supported by the Occupational Health Nurse and have received counselling and stress management therapy through the Employee Assistance Programme. The Alexander Technique classes that have been arranged have also been extremely beneficial. Without all of this I doubt that I would still be working full time, if at all.”

 

For visitors, we ensure that our buildings are accessible and welcoming to disabled people.

    • We have lift access throughout our buildings;
    • Accessible parking is available;
    • There are loop systems throughout our buildings;
    • Our Front of House and Security staff have all undergone training on how to support disabled visitors;
    • We have Autism Champions across the organisation to welcome people with autism;
    • Some of our staff are trained in deaf awareness and British Sign Language;
    • We have a range of toilet facilities available, including a Changing Places facility, with a bed and a hoist.

 

We also have outreach, education and youth engagement teams that meet disabled people across Wales to tell them about the work of the Assembly and to listen to their views on issues that matter to them.

Photograph of members of the Mixed Up Group, a group of disabled young people from Swansea
Photograph of members of the Mixed Up Group, a group of disabled young people from Swansea

 

We have received recognition from external organisations that celebrate our accessibility.

  • Action on Hearing Loss has awarded us their Louder than Words Charter Mark for our commitment to supporting staff and visitors who are deaf or have a hearing loss. We also won their Action on Hearing Loss Cymru silver award at their Excellence Wales awards.

 

 

The National Autistic Society has awarded us their Access Award for supporting visitors with autism. We have a developed a webpage specifically for visitors with autism, trained Autism Champions and added de-stress toys to our quiet room.

 

A photograph of people celebrating the Assembly receiving the National Autistic Society’s Access Award
A photograph of people celebrating the Assembly receiving the National Autistic Society’s Access Award
Logo for the National Autistic Society Access Award
Logo for the National Autistic Society Access Award

Assembly shines at Sparkle

By Kelly Harris, Youth Engagement Officer

On Saturday 7 November, myself and Craig Stephenson, Assembly Director and Chair of our LGBT staff network, took a stall to Swansea Sparkle to talk to the public about the work of the Assembly and how they could become involved.

Swansea Sparkle was organised by Tawe Butterflies and South Wales Police, which provided an opportunity for people to come together and celebrate equality and diversity. The aim was to break down barriers between the public and the Transgender community by bringing organisations from across Wales and the U.K. together to showcase the support, information and advice available to the community.

It was a really interesting day and we had lots of interest about the Assembly. Many people were unaware that they had five Assembly Members whose job it is to represent them in the Assembly, so it was the perfect opportunity to provide them with our Explore the Assembly: Your Assembly Member Guide and chat with them about what issues they might face in their communities. Two Assembly Members came to the stall to say hello and have their picture taken with us – Julie James (Swansea West Constituency) and Peter Black (South West Wales Regional) – it was great to have their support at the event.

Sparkle 2015 Assembly staff with Assembly Member Julie James
Sparkle 2015 Assembly staff with Assembly Member Julie James
Sparkle 2015 Assembly staff with Assembly Member Peter Black
Sparkle 2015 Assembly staff with Assembly Member Peter Black

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to talk to a young person who is currently transitioning. I felt very honoured that they shared their story with me, and it was interesting to hear their experiences – both the happy and the sad parts. There have been big steps taken to make sure that the voices of the Transgender community are heard, but it is very clear that there is still a lot of work to be done. I took the time to make sure that the young person knew of all the different ways they could become involved in the work of the Assembly, even down to how hard the Assembly works to make sure our workforce is diverse and fully representative of Welsh communities. It was great to get their feedback on what else they thought the Assembly could work on, which will be fed back to our excellent Equality Team.

I also explained about who the Children’s Commissioner for Wales is and what their job is, so that if they felt they needed someone to help them in the future, they have someone else they can contact. It is important for all young people in Wales to know about the Children’s Commissioner.

Overall it was an excellent day – well organised and very welcoming! I can’t wait to go back next year!

Attendees at the Sparkle event with Stonewall's No Bystanders anti-bullying pledge
Attendees at the Sparkle event with Stonewall’s No Bystanders anti-bullying pledge

BME Women pioneers: BME women who have paved the way for others to follow

bhmOctober is Black History Month (BHM), it is the time of year when the culture, history and achievements of Black Minority Ethnic (BME) communities is recognised and celebrated.

The contributions that BME people have made to the development of British society, technology, economy and culture has been made possible by those brave men and women who paved the way. They were the beacon for other BME people, role models and examples of what was achievable.

The Black History Association Wales, in partnership with the African Community Centre, Wales Millennium Centre, Unison Cymru, Radio Cardiff and The Prince’s Trust Cymru, have announce this year’s theme as ‘Great Black Women, Past & Present’. In line with that theme here are 12 pioneering BME women who have paved the way for others to follow:

1.  Mary Prince: The first Black woman to write and publish an autobiography ‘The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave’, an account of the horrors of life on the plantations enslavement, published in Britain c.1831. Mary Prince was also the first woman to present an anti-slavery petition to Parliament.

2. Una Marson:The first Black female broadcaster at the BBC from 1939  to 1946.

3. Elisabeth Welch: One of the first Black people to have her own BBC radio series in 1935, ‘Soft Lights and Sweet Music’, which made her a household name in Britain.

4. Sislin Fay Allen: Britain’s first black WPC, joining the Metropolitan  Police in 1968.

5. Lilian Bader: One of the first women in the RAF to qualify as an  instrument repairer, after joining the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. Visit  the Ministry Of Defense’s blog to find out more about BME people in the armed forces

6. Moira Stuart, OBE: the first female newsreader of African-Caribbean  heritage on British television.

7. Diane Abbott, MP: The first black woman Member of Parliament when she was elected to the House of Commons in the 1987 general election.

8. Betty Campbell: Who in the 1970s became the nation’s first black head teacher with her post at Mount Stuart Primary in Butetown, Cardiff.

9. and 10. Baroness Valerie Amos: The first black woman cabinet minister and joint first black woman peer with Baroness  Patricia Scotland.

11. Dame Jocelyn Barrow: The first black woman Governor of the BBC.

12. Claudia Jones:  Founder of Britain’s first black weekly newspaper “The  Westindian Gazette”, also known as the mother of the Notting Hill  Carnival.