Equal Opportunities

Equal Opportunity Statement
Hits Homes Trust recognises that groups and individuals within British Society have been and continue to be, discriminated against on the grounds of race, colour, ethnic or national origins, sex, class, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, HIV status, age, trade union activity and religious beliefs.

Hits Homes Trust also recognises that this discrimination operates on a number of different levels from the interpersonal to the institutional, and that both direct and indirect discrimination have adverse and unfair effects.

Hits Homes Trust believes that passive policies or statements on paper will not succeed in achieving equality of opportunity and is therefore committed to implementing a programme of positive action as detailed in our Equal Opportunities Policy. Hits Homes Trust will combat all forms of direct and indirect discrimination in its employment practice and in the provision and delivery of services.

Equal Opportunity and Diversity Policy
Hits Home Trust (HHT) is a voluntary sector housing project, receiving funding from Leicester City Council’s Supporting People Department. We are a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee. The Project’s aims are to provide temporary accommodation for vulnerable, young single homeless people aged between sixteen and twenty-five and to provide support and assistance to enable them to live independently. We aim to resettle our tenants into the community by assisting them to find permanent accommodation.

HHT believes that in Britain certain groups and individuals are denied equality of opportunity and consequently suffer discrimination and oppression. Both as a service
provider and as an employer, HHT is committed to developing policies, working practices and attitudes designed to combat discrimination, and to promote good relations and equality of opportunity for its tenants and within HHT as a company.

The Policy applies to all company directors, staff, volunteers, and students on placement, sub-contactors and any other groups working with or on behalf of HHT.

The management Committee and all members of staff will be accountable for the implementation of the Equal Opportunity Policy.

The aims of the Equal Opportunity Policy are:

• To demonstrate that HHT is actively working towards being an equal opportunity employer

• To work towards the elimination of discrimination, either direct or indirect, and all forms of harassment

• To ensure that individuals are treated appropriately with respect to specific needs and that there is consistency in HHT approach to working practices and conditions

• To raise the level of equal opportunity awareness and understanding through facilitating training programmes for directors, employers and users.

Statement of Intent

HHT will endeavour to make its services equally available to all of its client groups.

This means it will endeavour not to unfairly discriminate on the grounds of gender, culture, race, ethnic origin, age, nationality, sexuality, marital status, HIV status,
disability, religion, trade union membership, criminal conviction or social class.

Where it is found that any of these groups are under-represented among its service users, consideration will be given to taking positive action to redress the balance.

HHT recognises its statutory obligations under the various Acts of Parliament. The principal pieces of legislation are listed below:

• Equal Pay Act 1970
• Sex Discrimination Act 1975
• Race Relations Act 1976 (As amended 2000 and 2003)
• Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (As amended 2005)
• Protection from Harassment Act 1997
• The Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999
(Amending the Sex Discrimination Act 1975)
• Race Relations Amendment Act 2000
• Race and Religious Hatred Act 2006
• Age of Consent for Gay Men 2001
• Employments Rights Act 1996
• Employment Act 2002
• Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
• Employment Equality (Religious or Belief) Regulations 2003
• Employment Equality (Sex Discrimination) Regulation 2005
• Employments Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
• Equality Act 2006
• Disability Discrimination Act 1995
• Disability Discrimination Act 2005
• Civil Partnership Act 2004
• The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations October 2006
• The Gender Equality Duty
• Gender Recognition Act
• Human Rights Act 1998

HHT further believes it has moral and social responsibilities that go beyond the provisions of these Acts and therefore declares its intention to achieve five core values, which embrace and provide a framework within which all employees and managers can work, as follows:

• Equality – recognition that every individual is of equal value and should
be respected according to individual needs and abilities
• Empowerment – helping individuals take on responsibility so that they
can influence and participate in their decision–making process
• Accessibility – equal access for all to employment and service delivery
• Quality- obtaining the highest standards in service delivery for the tenants
of HHT

HHT will seek the resources to enable the principle aims of the policy.

HHT is committed to developing, implementing and reviewing its policy in
consultation with management, staff and users.

GUIDANCE ON IMPLEMENTATION OF THE POLICY

The Project Manager is responsible for the implementation of the policy.

Premises

HHT will endeavour to deliver its services in premises that are:

• Welcoming and accessible to all of the community
• Safe and secure
• Displaying relevant and accessible information for groups who
experience discrimination.

Communications

HHT will endeavour to use clear, jargon-free language when communicating with service users.

HHT staff will listen to requests of service users relating to service provision. Staff will actively seek the views and comments of tenants on services on a regular basis
and through completion of an exit questionnaire. Recommendations will be incorporated in any review of the services, taking into account both legal and financial constraints.

Service users

All tenants are bound by terms of their tenancy agreement, which specifies that harassment of another tenant by themselves or their guests is a breach of tenancy. Such incidents will be treated with utmost urgency to rectify the breach, taking into account legal constraints.

All tenants will be informed of their right to enjoy the benefits of HHT’s equal opportunities policy and that they may use the tenant’s complaints procedure in relation to equal opportunities issues, as well as for other matters.

Staff will challenge service users who fail to treat everyone with equal respect. This means challenging any behaviour and language that is discriminatory.

Monitoring

With regard to service users a monitoring and evaluation system based on recognised categories will be adopted. We will ask service users to self-select the categories to which they feel they belong. Monitoring of the following will be undertaken:
Race and skin colour

Gender

Disability

Marital status

Age

Asylum status

The need for an interpreter

Leicester connection

Information gathered through this monitoring of service use will be evaluated annually by the management committee and policies, strategies and practices will be
developed and adopted in order to combat any inequality appearing in the course of provision of the service.

Any incidents occurring in service delivery that have equal opportunities implications will be documented and brought to the next management committee meeting for review.

Management Committee

HHT will endeavour to recruit a Management Committee that reflects the diverse nature of the local community and its service users. It will take into account its
user-centred policy to encourage participation by young people.

Where under-representation of a group is identified, HHT will take positive actions to promote the project and encourage these groups to become members of the
committee.

The Directors of the company will be informed of their responsibilities as Directors and copies of all policies and procedures will be supplied for their information.

The representatives of partner agencies and other guests at meetings are asked to be sensitive when dealing with service users at meetings. They should ensure that they deliver information in ways that do not leave service users feeling confused or undermined. They should endeavour, for instance, not to use jargon or abbreviated language in promoting their views.

It is the responsibility of the Chair to ensure that no individual or group dominates meetings. All members will be encouraged to put their views, and so far as these are
not discriminatory, should be treated with respect. It should also be understood that some members may not feel confident or able to deliver a viewpoint, and this should be respected.

Within financial restraints training will be given to HHT users to enable them to feel confident in their duties towards the group and to act in a fully participatory manner.
Consideration will be given to accessibility of premises, timing of meetings, childcare issues and travel costs to ensure that no groups are disadvantaged.

All HHT, people whether Directors, staff or management team, have a personal responsibility to implement the equal opportunity policy.

An additional responsibility falls on managers who have specific recruitment and personnel management responsibilities.

All Directors and the Manager must:

• Ensure that their own behaviour is in keeping with this policy
• Make sure that the employees for whom they are responsible understand
what constitutes acceptable behaviour
• Make sure that the employees for whom they are responsible are familiar
with these policies and procedures
• Take action to eliminate not only direct unfair discrimination but also
indirect conditions, requirements, and practices which unfairly discriminate.

Contractors

The project will require any contractors working on behalf of its landlords to work to their Equal Opportunities and Diversity Policy and to follow their procedures. If
there are any issues with contractors supplied by the landlords, a written complaint
will be made to the landlord within 5 working days.

In the event that the project employs their own contractors, it is expected that the contractor will work towards the project’s Equal Opportunities and Diversity Policy
and a copy of the policy will be given to them before they start the work. Any issues resulting where there are proven incidents of sexual or racial harassment to either residents or employees will result in any contract with the contractors being withdrawn. The incident will be reported to the Police for further investigation.

The project will work with their landlords to encourage contractors from ethnic
minority groups to submit quotations for work as part of its commitment to equality
and diversity.

Recruitment Policy

While recognising that targeted groups will relate more easily to workers who understand their values and experiences, HHT will attempt to ensure that no
prospective employee is unfairly discriminated against on the grounds of class, gender, sexuality, religion, race, ethnic origin, age, sexuality, marital status, HIV status, disability, religion or trade union membership during the recruitment and selection process.

We oppose all forms of unlawful and unfair discrimination. All employees will be treated fairly and equally. Selection for employment, promotion, training or any other benefit will be on the basis of aptitude and ability.

Every employee is entitled to a working environment, which promotes dignity and respect to all. No form of intimidation, bullying or harassment will be tolerated.
Please see Hits Homes Trust Harassment Policy.

HHT will strive to ensure that its workforce reflects the composition and diversity of its client group by passively encouraging under-represented communities to apply, by
ensuring that fair recruitment and selection procedures are in operation.

Vacant posts will be advertised in a manner designed to reach a broad cross-section of the community. When monitoring has revealed under-representation of particular ethnic groups this will be countered by placing recruitment advertisements in areas where that ethnic community is concentrated.

Short-listing and interview panels will aim to include one female and one ethnic minority member. Training (where necessary) will be given to all participating in the selection process on the effects which generalised assumptions and prejudices can have on the selection decision.

Appointments will be made on the basis of a person specification, which includes an agreed list of essential skills, experience, and attributes for the post advertised. HHT
will avoid prescribing irrelevant job requirements which amount to indirect
discrimination against groups.

Allegations

If any allegations are made concerning harassment, bullying, victimisation or discrimination a full investigation will be carried out under the HHT Complaints and Disciplinary procedures.

Positive Action

HHT is committed to positive action as allowed for by S37 and S38 of the Race Relations Act 1976. Where racial minorities have been under-represented in particular work within an organisation over the previous twelve months these sections allow employers to encourage such employees by providing them with opportunities to train to enable them to obtain the skills needed by the organisation.

So, for example, if within the hierarchy of HHT ethnic minorities were only employed on the lowest salary scales (say bookkeeper and project worker) and has the ability to undertake training to become a manager of a project like ours, those employees, after a reasonable period of loyal service to HHT, (say three years) could be sent on training courses relating to staff supervision etc. This would facilitate the employee making progress in their career.

Additionally, if the above monitoring processes reveal that there are below average percentages of ethnic minority or female service users, job applicants or Management Committee members, steps will be taken to identify the reasons and causes for the imbalance.