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“Diversity and equality”: brief notes from the CILIP Conference workshop discussion, 6 July 2017

Posted By Administration, 06 October 2017

“Diversity and equality”: brief notes from the CILIP Conference workshop discussion, 6 July 2017 

By John Vincent,

The Network

What would you like to cover in this workshop?

We began by quickly identifying four areas that participants would like to cover:

  • Increasing inclusion in FE and HE Libraries
  • How to make patient information available for/accessible to everybody
  • How to weave equality & diversity into everything
  • Ensure that we are aware of tokenism.

… and returned to these at the end of the afternoon.



JV briefly covered the following:

  • Definitions of equality & diversity: we discussed this widely, and broadly agreed with the TUC unionlearn one:

“Diversity is about taking account of the differences between people and groups of people, and placing a positive value on those differences.”[1]

  • Problems with diversity, especially its being seen as primarily referring to disability or BAME people, rather than being more inclusive.
  • The Equality Act 2010 [and there is an outline attached to these notes]
  • The view of Arts Council England of public libraries’ engagement with equality and diversity (and JV’s paper to develop this)
  • CILIP’s re-focus on equality and diversity [paper due out at end of July]


Discussion (1)

JV asked the group for some help to look at the question: Why do you think there is less LGBT+ activity in libraries than there was, say, 10 years ago? Yet more in museums, archives and heritage organisations …[2]

There was a very useful discussion. Points raised:

  • Effects of austerity on resources and staff
  • Changing priorities and “following the money” (ie it all depends on budget priorities and/or external funding offers)
  • National campaigns and Government funding
  • Demographic changes
  • Depends on who is leading the work and whether there are LGBT+ champions (especially at senior level)
  • Challenges to service provision
  • Growing complacency (and LGBT+ work being normalised – in the wrong sense!)
  • Has the spotlight on this area of work moved away?


Discussion (2)

We then returned to the four key areas listed at the start. There was not a huge amount of time, but we gave examples of what could be done:

  • Increasing inclusion in FE and HE Libraries
    • Ensure that there is more diverse stock
    • Share resources more widely
    • Ensure that good practice is replicated
  • How to make patient information available for/accessible to everybody
    • Ensure that information is available in a wide range of accessible formats
    • Look at language and terminology
    • Target specific communities that are currently under-represented in using/accessing health info
  • How to weave equality & diversity into everything
    • Ensure that equality & diversity are put on the agenda for every single thing we do, not just seen as a separate area of work/one person’s responsibility
  • Ensure that we are aware of tokenism
    • Reassess all our work to ensure that diversity is ‘real’ and not just one person’s responsibility (because s/he represents that particular group)

There was agreement that there were two core ways of working that should run through our equality and diversity work:

  • Working in partnership with other organisation, other libraries, and the community
  • Consultation.

The Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 consolidates all anti-discrimination legislation in Britain in one place.[3]

It includes nine ‘protected characteristics’[4]:

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

There are three main areas covered:

  • Employment protections
  • Goods, facilities and service protections
  • The public sector Equality Duty.

Employment protections

The law covers all aspects of employment including:

  • Recruitment
  • Promotion
  • Training
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Pay and benefits
  • Dismissals.

The Act outlaws four types of behaviour in the workplace relating to sexual orientation:

  • Direct discrimination is where one person is treated less favourably than another person is treated, has been treated or would be treated in a comparable situation on the grounds of their sexual orientation
  • Indirect discrimination is where a policy or practice is applied which disadvantages people of a particular sexual orientation, unless it can be justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim
  • Harassment is where an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive work environment is created for someone because of their sexual orientation
  • Victimisation is where a person is treated unfavourably because of their involvement in a case brought under the Equality Act, whether as a claimant, witness or otherwise.

Positive Action

The Equality Act outlaws positive discrimination, but allows positive action. Understandably, many employers and employees find the two concepts confusing.

  • Positive discrimination is when someone is appointed or promoted solely because, for example, they are lesbian, gay or bisexual. Positive discrimination is unlawful.
  • Positive action is where employers undertake work with particular groups to address under-representation of those groups in their workforce. This includes targeted recruitment advertising and leadership programmes. Positive action is lawful.

Goods, facilities and services protections

All aspects of goods and service provision are covered by the Act, including:

  • Providing a service
  • Terminating a service
  • The terms and conditions of a service.


The public sector Equality Duty

The public sector Equality Duty[5] is designed to support and guide public bodies to address inequalities experienced by their staff and service users.

There are two parts of the duty: the general duty and the specific duties. Put simply, the general duty sets out the goals that public bodies must aim for, whilst the specific duties are the practical things they must do to help them achieve those goals.

The general duty says that public bodies, in all of their functions, must have due regard to the need to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act.
  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
  • Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

The Act explains that having due regard for advancing equality involves:

  • Removing or minimising disadvantages suffered by people due to their protected characteristics.
  • Taking steps to meet the needs of people from protected groups where these are different from the needs of other people.
  • Encouraging people from protected groups to participate in public life or in other activities where their participation is disproportionately low.

This general equality duty:

“[…] applies to the public authorities who are named or described (listed) in Schedule 19, which is part of the Equality Act 2010 […] Examples of these include local authorities, education bodies (including schools), health bodies, police, fire and transport authorities, and government departments […]

The general equality duty also applies to other organisations that exercise public functions. This will include private bodies or voluntary organisations that are carrying out public functions on behalf of a public authority.”[6]

In terms of the specific duties:


“The specific duties were created by secondary legislation in the form of the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011 […] The specific duties are different in England, Scotland and Wales.”[7],[8]

However, the specific duties for all three nations do include the following as a minimum:

  1. Public bodies have to set and publish equality objectives, setting out how they intend to meet any of the aims of the general duty. This will enable people to clearly see what public bodies have committed to doing.
  1. Public bodies will need annually to publish data which shows how they are meeting these aims. This will enable people to hold them to account on whether they are addressing inequalities.

Equality Impact Assessments

“An Equality Impact Assessment (“EIA”) is an analysis of a proposed organisational policy, or a change to an existing one, which assesses whether the policy has a disparate impact on persons with protected characteristics. They are carried out primarily by public authorities to assist compliance with equality duties.”[9]

The Equality Act 2010 does not require public authorities to carry out EIAs, but “the courts place significant weight on the existence of some form of documentary evidence of compliance with the PSED when determining judicial review cases.”[10]


[1] Taken from: TUC unionlearn “Equality and diversity – what’s the difference?”,

[2] JV is contributing a chapter to an US book on ‘cutting-edge’ LGBT+ librarianship in the UK, and wants to explore this as one of the chapter’s themes.

[3] Much of this handout is based on: Sam Dick. Sexual orientation: the Equality Act made simple. Stonewall, 2012. Available to download from:

[6] The essential guide to the public sector Equality Duty: England (and Non-Devolved Public Authorities in Scotland and Wales). EHRC, 2015,

[7] The essential guide to the public sector Equality Duty: England (and non-devolved public authorities in Scotland and Wales). EHRC, 2015,

[8] Essential guide to the public sector Equality Duty: a guide for public authorities – Scotland. EHRC, 2014,

The essential guide to the public sector Equality Duty: an overview for listed public authorities in Wales. EHRC, 2014,

[9] Doug Pyper. The public sector Equality Duty and Equality Impact Assessments. House of Commons Library (Briefing Paper no.06591), January 2015,

[10] Doug Pyper. The public sector Equality Duty and Equality Impact Assessments. House of Commons Library (Briefing Paper no.06591), January 2015,

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