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- The British Library: Disability & Equality
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British Library: Involving stakeholders
Setting the scene
Within the Equality Act 2010, the Equality Duty imposes a legislative requirement on the public sector to promote equality of opportunity, inclusion and access in diverse equality strands i.e. race, gender, gender identity, disability, age, religion or belief and sexual orientation. The Duty harmonises the requirements of three previous pieces of legislation covering Race, Gender and Disability and extends them to embrace further equality areas. The Duty applies across the full range of public sector activity and includes the British Library, the subject of this case study.
The British Library had already (in 2008) produced a Unified Equality Scheme for Race, Gender and Disability with action plans setting out how they will implement these areas. In 2009/10 these needed to be reviewed and extended to cover the new areas and form a Single Equality Scheme. Part of the requirements are that the Scheme is produced with the involvement of stakeholders of the different areas of equality.
Mary-Anne Rankin was asked to assist the British Library with this involvement first in 2006/7 and again in 2009/10 for the disability, gender and sexual orientation areas of the scheme requirements.
The British Library approached Mary-Anne because they were aware of her strong relationship with diversity organisations and individuals.
Working closely with the client, Mary-Anne organised the involvement of disabled people, and those with experience of gender and sexual orientation issues, sourcing the participants, facilitating focus groups, carrying out telephone interviews and producing a report linked to criteria that reflected the British Library’s work and activities.
The views and aspirations of the participants, helped to shape the Library’s Disability Equality Scheme in 2007, which then became part of the Unified Equality Scheme and Action Plans in 2008. In 2009 their progress was acknowledged particularly in the area of disability equality, when the Employers’ Forum on Disability (EFD) awarded the Library the top rating of ‘Platinum Level’ in the Disability Standard Award 2009 – part of a major benchmarking exercise where organisations nationally were assessed on their progress in meeting the needs of people with disabilities. The EFD also ranked the Library not only in the top ten most disability-confident organisations but awarded the Library the Disability Confidence 2009 Award for its joint first positioning with BT out of the 106 organisations participating. The Library also received an EFD Award for the Best Public Sector Employer Organisation.
The British Library believes that the public sector duty to promote equality has really benefited the Library as well as all its diverse stakeholders in providing a constructive framework for promoting equality, addressing discrimination and tackling the barriers and prejudice that diverse people experience.