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Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Policy

1. About this policy

1.1 Purpose

This policy sets out RNIB’s commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). We believe that a culture of equality, diversity, and inclusion not only benefits our organisation but supports wellbeing and enables our people to work better because they can be themselves and feel that they belong.

We are committed to promoting a working environment based on dignity, trust, and respect, and one that is free from unlawful discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation.

1.2 Benefits of policy being in place

RNIB is committed to ensure there is no discrimination in employment and to remove any barriers to an equitable, diverse and inclusive workplace. The benefits of EDI are wide-ranging including individual wellbeing, recruitment and retention of colleagues, reputation, delivery of our values, improved customer service, return on investment and legal compliance. Organisations that embed EDI enable employees and volunteers to be their best self and perform highly in their roles.

Benefits of implementing this policy include:

  • Become a more inclusive workplace
  • Increased diversity of knowledge, enhance creativity and problem solving
  • We can gain a better understanding of societal segments and consumer / user behaviour
  • We can become an employer of choice
  • We will keep a wider talent pool when recruiting
  • Improved communication and cultural understanding
  • We will have a more ‘balanced’ and representative workforce
  • Increased appreciation and respect for difference
  • It will encourage contrasting perspectives, which can lead to improved team productivity and success
  • Morale will be improved, which raises motivation
  • It will improve standards of delivery
  • Retention rates will be strengthened, as will employee progression
  • All work will take place in a vibrant, inclusive, and nurturing environment.

1.3 Embedding this policy

This EDI Policy is implemented through our EDI Strategy and associated objectives. EDI is a continuous active process at RNIB, and we aim to ensure inclusion for those who are commonly excluded and underserved. We are committed to ensuring that we have effective policies, strategies, procedures, and processes and that we encourage behaviour which promotes equality, encourages diversity, and contributes to an inclusive and accessible organisational culture. This includes hosting several EDI networks and working groups to provide proportionate challenge and support for all parts of our organisation to adhere to this policy.

Our strategy includes EDI learning and development objectives that enable our employees and volunteers to deliver the expectations of the policy during their time at RNIB.

In addition, our Accessibility Policy aims to make adjustments to our working arrangements, policies and practices that enable disabled people to take up employment and progress in their careers, provide services and consultancy.

As part of our commitment, we undertake equality impact analysis (EIAs) of strategies, policies and functions which impact on employees, volunteers and / or external contacts or the wider community which have high relevance to equality. Through our Accessibility Policy we aim to make adjustments to our working arrangements, policies and practices that enable disabled people to take up employment and progress in their careers, provide services and consultancy.

1.4 Risks and Implications

Any employee who unlawfully discriminates or reduces others to do so may be subject to disciplinary action.

Failure to comply with this policy may also expose RNIB to potential legal action with negative financial and / or reputational consequences.

1.5 Scope

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to all employees, volunteers, consultants, temporary workers, trustees, board members, and other workers RNIB and its subsidiaries. It also applies to all applicants throughout the recruitment process paid employment opportunities or volunteer roles. Contractors and organisations that we work in partnership with, are also expected to abide by this policy.

What does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to RNIB’s governance, service delivery, employment, and volunteering practices. This policy covers RNIB’s operations throughout all the United Kingdom.

1.6 Exceptions to this policy

There are no exceptions to this policy.

1.7 Roles and responsibilities

1.7.1 Responsibilities

All employees, volunteers and trustees must adhere to this policy. The executive leadership team and the chair of the Board of Trustees are accountable for ensuring the policy is implemented.

1.7.2 The role of all employees

We expect you, and every one of our people, to take personal responsibility for observing, upholding, promoting, and applying this policy. Our culture is made in the day-to-day working interactions between us, so creating the right environment is a responsibility that we all share.

We expect you to treat your colleagues and third parties (including customers, suppliers, contractors, agency staff and consultants) fairly and with dignity, trust, and respect. Sometimes, this may mean allowing for different views and viewpoints and making space for others to contribute. All our people have a responsibility to ensure that the terms and spirit of this policy are observed and to understand clearly there is a moral duty not to discriminate against any individual, however they encounter the RNIB.

The People team has a responsibility of ensuring the maintenance, regular review and updating of the policy in accordance with changes in legislation. Therefore, any queries on the application or interpretation of this policy must be discussed with the people team prior to any action being taken.

As an employee, you have responsibility to:

  • act in ways that respect and value the diversity of others
  • ensure you treat all people fairly, with dignity and respect
  • challenge and report any behaviour that could be interpreted as discriminatory
  • to seek guidance from your line manger, HR business partner or a member of the ADI team
  • complete the mandatory EDI training
  • understand what is expected of you in terms of your performance, behaviour and conduct towards others
  • set a positive example all times
  • listen to and respect others and discourage discriminatory speculations
  • act in accordance with the values of the RNIB.

1.7.3 Role of Line Managers (employees and volunteers)

All line managers have the following responsibilities to:

  • set a positive example by ensuring that your actions and behaviours promote inclusion and diversity
  • ensure you treat all people fairly, with dignity and respect
  • stop inappropriate behaviour as soon as you become aware of it
  • to seek guidance from a HR business partner or a member of the ADI team
  • be aware of the policy and attend training as required
  • act in accordance with the values of the RNIB
  • ensure that the standards within the policy are adhered to within your area of responsibility e.g., when recruiting new people
  • take responsibility for monitoring individual behaviour and taking immediate action where there is evidence of discrimination, harassment, bullying or any other unaccountable conduct
  • encourage and support all people to reach their full potential and remove any barriers you become aware of that may exist
  • ensure that all candidates for employment, promotion or volunteering roles will be shortlisted and assessed objectively against recruitment criteria
  • ensure employees and volunteers are aware of and carry out their responsibilities under the law and this policy.

1.7.4 Trustees, Executive Team, and Senior Management Group Responsibilities:

As a Trustee or member of the executive team or a senior manager, you have responsibility to:

  • Be leaders by example for equality, diversity, and inclusion, ensuring that your actions and behaviours reflect this
  • Be the visible sponsors for EDI
  • support others in EDI
  • to seek guidance from a HR business partner or a member of the ADI team
  • ensure you treat all people fairly, with dignity and respect
  • challenge any behaviour that could be interpreted as discrimination
  • listen to and respect others and discourage any discriminatory speculations
  • attend appropriate training regarding EDI issues
  • fulfil your duty to ensure that the policy is implemented.

1.7.5 Role of Volunteers

As a volunteer, you are expected to:

  • Demonstrate and role model inclusive behaviour to others and treat people with dignity and respect
  • behave in accordance with the RNIB values, volunteer commitment and voluntary code of conduct
  • Do not harass, or discriminate against anyone when carrying out your role
  • challenges any behaviour that could be interpreted as unfair discrimination
  • to seek guidance from a member of the ADI team
  • attend relevant RNIB EDI training as requested by your volunteer manager.

1.7.6 Breaches of Policy

All complaints of discrimination will be sensitively investigated and, if proven, will result in appropriate action for the perpetrator. Any employee or volunteers found to be in breach of this policy could be subject to disciplinary action.

1.8 Definitions

1.8.1 Protected Characteristics

Protected characteristics refer to groups who are protected under the Equality Act 2010. These are best described as certain attributes that people possess, which the law considers should be safeguarded. These are the protected characteristics of which discrimination is unlawful:

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

1.8.2 Positive Action

Positive action is a proactive approach that RNIB takes to address existing disadvantages and promote equality by implementing targeted initiatives and support programs.

An employer can use positive action where they reasonably think (based on some evidence) that:

  • people who share a protected characteristic suffer a disadvantage connected to that characteristic, people who share a protected characteristic have needs that are different from the people who do not share it
  • participation in an activity by people who share a protected characteristic is disproportionately low.

1.8.3 Equality

Equality refers to the state of being equal in rights, opportunities, and treatment, regardless of one’s protected characteristics. It implies fairness and impartiality, where everyone is given the same chances and benefits without discrimination or prejudice. Equality promotes a society where all individuals have equal access to resources, and opportunities, enabling them to thrive and reach their full potential.

1.8.4 Diversity

Diversity is valuing all visible nonvisible differences in recognising and accepting that harnessing the values approach aims to recognise value and manage difference to enable all employees to realise that potential.

1.8.5 Inclusion

Inclusion refers to the practice of ensuring that all individuals are valued, respected, and have equal opportunities to participate and contribute to all aspects of employment, regardless of their differences or characteristics. It also involves eliminating discrimination and promoting equity.

1.8.6 Equity

Equity refers to the fair and just treatment of all individuals, regardless of their background, identity, or characteristics. It involves identifying and addressing systemic barriers and biases that may hinder equal opportunities and outcomes for different groups. Equity aims to ensure that everyone has access to the same resources, opportunities, and benefits, with a focus on correcting historical and current disparities to promote justice and inclusivity.

1.8.7 Belonging

Belonging, encompasses the feeling of being accepted, valued, and included within a particular group or organisation. It involves creating an environment where individuals of diverse backgrounds feel a genuine sense of connection, acceptance, and support, enabling them to fully participate and contribute to the organisations goals and objectives. Belonging is a fundamental aspect of fostering an inclusive and equitable culture.

1.8.8 Discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination because of protected characteristics. Discrimination can be intentional or unintentional and may occur directly, indirectly, by association, or by perception. Discrimination is not always obvious and can be subtle and unconscious. This stems from a person's general assumptions about the abilities, interests and characteristics of a particular group that influences how they treat those people (known as "unconscious bias"). Such assumptions or prejudices may cause them to apply requirements or conditions that put those in particular groups at a disadvantage. The approaches set out in this policy seek to eliminate any discrimination at RNIB.

Discrimination includes:

  • direct discrimination – less favourable treatment directly because of a protected characteristic
  • indirect discrimination – when everyone's treated the same but people with a protected characteristic are put at a disadvantage
  • harassment – unwanted or offensive behaviour related to a protected characteristic
  • victimisation – negative treatment because of being involved with a discrimination or harassment complaint.

(ACAS, 2023)

Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which states that public bodies ensure 'equality of opportunity and good relations are central to policymaking and service delivery' and have 'due regard for the need to promote equality of opportunity between:

1.8.9 Inclusive working practices

Employee resource groups / workstreams / support groups

We are proud to have several network groups to provide a forum for people who have a passion for, or a connection with a particular aspect of equality, diversity and inclusion.

The aim of these is to:

  • provide networking opportunities and community support
  • organise events to raise awareness and provide education and contribute ideas and suggestions for ways the organisation can be more diverse and inclusive.

At RNIB we have the following network and working groups:

Carers and Parent Network

Disability Network

LGBTQ+ Network

Mental Health & Wellbeing (in the development process)

Race Forward (BAME)

VIBE (Visually Impaired & Blind Experience)

Women’s Network

2. Statements of the policy

RNIB is committed to promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in all aspects of our operations. We strive to create a work environment that values and respects the diverse backgrounds, experiences, volunteers, and stakeholders. RNIB is dedicated to ensuring equitable opportunities, removing barriers, and fostering a culture of inclusivity where everyone feels valued, supported, and able to contribute their best.

3. Compliance

Non-compliance with this policy may result in disciplinary action being taken.

4. Review

This policy is due for review every three years or following any relevant and significant organisational or legislative change if earlier.

Next review date: July 2026

Policy review / update process: This policy has been reviewed and updated by the ADI team in consultation with staff networks. All consultation feedback has been recorded and where feedback has lent more to strategic activities, they will be considered in ADI strategies.

5. Document Owner and Approval

Document owner: Chief People Officer

Final policy sign off by: Trustee Board

6. Associated Policies, Procedures, Standards and Guidelines