We support the vision of the Equality and Human Rights Commission:
A society built on fairness and respect. People confident in all aspects of their diversity.
Equality is about giving everyone a fair chance to fulfil their potential - and it means working to ensure people in communities and the workforce have equal opportunity, access and treatment in employment and services. But it's not about treating everyone the same, it's about getting equal and fair outcomes. That means we need to tailor what we do to take account of diversity.
Diversity highlights different backgrounds and different skills, ideas, perspectives and experiences. Differences come in many forms. Older people, young people, people living with disabilities, men and women, different races, religions, beliefs and sexual orientations. Diversity applies to us all. An organisation that provides a fair, safe and harmonious environment which promotes diversity can ensure that these differences between people improve creativity, morale and performance within the organisation.
Putting considerations of equality and diversity at the heart of what we do is a priority for DSFRS. We want to build on our achievements and improve our equalities performance across the Service. Here’s why:
It’s good business and improves services
We are committed to providing excellent prevention, protection and response services to make Devon and Somerset safer. To do this efficiently and effectively, our employees need to be able to recognise, understand and respond to the needs of all the communities we serve. A workforce that values diversity and reflects the communities we serve is better equipped to achieve this.
Our society is constantly changing and becoming more diverse. As public service providers, we have a legal duty to challenge discrimination and prejudice. Sharing good practice and working with other agencies and organisations helps us all to learn how to improve our services. Learning how to communicate effectively and sensitively with all our communities, and influence behaviour, is key to education in fire and RTC prevention.
Equalities in the workplace means that a good employer considers equalities and individual needs, from recruitment to retention and progression. It means we work to foster a working culture that is open, where people can feel comfortable to be themselves and where inappropriate behaviour is effectively challenged at all levels.
It’s the right thing to do
The Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Authority holds the wellbeing of communities at the heart of everything we do. We have two Equality Champion Members on the Fire Authority who are equipped to challenge our equalities performance at Authority level and equalities and human rights have been considered in strategic decisions. As a public service it is our responsibility to ensure that fairness and equality are incorporated into everything we do.
It's a legal duty
The Equality Act brings nine pieces of equalities legislation together and provides a legislative framework to protect the rights of individuals and to advance equality of opportunity for all. Legislation needed to be updated, simplified and strengthened to deliver a simple and accessible framework of discrimination law. The Act creates nine legally protected characteristics, namely:
Age, Disability, Gender reassignment , Marriage and civil partnership, Pregnancy and maternity Race, Religion and belief, Sex , Sexual orientation.
The Equality Act created the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED), which plays a key role in ensuring that public bodies incorporate fairness into all policies and working strategies to meet the needs of everyone.
The general duty states that, in relation to the protected characteristics above, public authorities must give due regard to the need to:
- Eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other prohibited conduct
- Advance equality of opportunity : (remove or minimise disadvantage; meet people’s needs; take account of disabilities; encourage participation in public life). (Does not apply to marriage and civil partnership or pregnancy and maternity)
- Foster good relations between people by tackling prejudice and promote understanding
For equality information, news and events:
Government Equalities Office
The Equality and Human Rights Commission
British Institute of Human Rights