Many of us enjoy the benefits of 'privilege'; of being male, white, straight, neuro-typical or middle class for instance. Neuro-typical is a term that describes people who do not have the varying characteristics and behaviours of neurodevelopmental conditions. 'Privilege' doesn't necessarily mean some people have special advantages (although that can be the case), but that those people do not experience disadvantages associated with characteristics that others hold. We might not even appreciate the confidence privilege gives us; the unearned respect, advantages or protections it brings. We are also aware that when we make generalisations we can exclude or include people.
But today, among young people in particular, there is an awakening happening. In the streets and on social media, there is a push to expose the inequalities of our society.
As a voice for children and young people, it is our duty to address our own ways of thinking.
Northamptonshire Children's Trust must re-commit to providing equal support for the children and families we work with and a fair, inclusive environment for our workforce, irrespective of background, rights or privilege.
Our Equalities Survey for workforce, carried out in early 2021 to inform this strategy, highlighted some of our successes. In general, our workforce feels supported by their colleagues and their managers. They feel safe and confident to contribute in meetings and to projects. There's a general consensus that our organisation is culturally diverse and helps protect employees from discrimination.
However, the survey also picked up particular areas for improvement. We need to actively encourage our staff to engage in discussions about issues of equality and appropriate behaviour. We need to better value diversity within our workforce. We need to work together to eradicate bullying and discrimination in our workplace.
The aim of our Equalities Strategy is to generate a positive culture and dialogue within our Trust, where our staff follow the principles of the Social GGRRAAACCEEESSS (An acronym developed by John Burnham (2012) to represent aspects of difference in beliefs, power and lifestyle, visible and invisible, voiced and unvoiced. It stands for: gender, geography, race, religion, age, ability, appearance, class, culture, ethnicity, education, employment, sexuality, sexual orientation and spirituality) our Signs of Safety practice model which acknowledges, among other key characteristics, strengths and individuals. The strategy has been created in collaboration with our staff, children and young people.
The Trust has established an Equalities Strategy Steering Group to oversee the development of our strategy, it's implementation and monitor what difference it has made. We also have an Equalities Forum to provide support and education to all staff in relation to raising awareness of anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive practice.
We have also developed an Anti -Racism Statement with our staff which sets out our pledge to generate long term change for the better.
This Strategy and our Anti- Racism Statement are supported by our Equalities Action Plan to actively promote equality and diversity and address issues as they arise. The Action Plan is updated following input from each Equalities Forum session and is reviewed annually at our Equalities Strategy Group.