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Equality North East

2004

Demonstrating commitment to Equality of Opportunity - ASSA

Assa was commended on several levels. They fulfilled the basic generic criteria and additionally proved a whole organisation commitment in the following manner.

  • Named person working specifically on Equal Opps.
  • Annual EO training for all staff
  • Inbuilt into service level agreements
  • Interesting systems for learners (cards,freefone number)
  • Female ambassadors used to increase females on programmes
  • EO policies highly visible in all offices
  • Company handbook available in many formats
  • Good explanations of support mechanisms, interviewee had personal experience of this
  • EO monitoring group has key role

It was clear that for this organisation EO was key to its working practices.

Equality in Recruitment - BOW COMMUNITY PROJECT

This organisation has evolved over the years from a Community Housing Association to a company, which works with local communities on local initiatives.

  • Community orientated
  • Identifies local projects
  • Recruits locally
  • Staff are involved in recruitment process person spec, job spec and interview process to ensure fairness
  • Large experience in regeneration projects because of good understanding of local needs i.e. one size does not fit all
  • Wide and appropriate advertising local papers and specialist, networks
  • Staff reflect multicultural environment and ethos.
  • Pre-interview offered to assist fair interview

Best Working Practices - CPCR

Organisations often state that their most valuable component is their staff, this company demonstrated that this is indeed fact.
The single item which stood out with this company was the attitude of mutual trust and interdependency. It was very refreshing to see how trust was not a theory but was used in practice, i.e. workers were not required to fill in numerous forms for holidays, time off, flexibility; interviewee was not aware of any misuse or abuse.

  • Much flexibility of location
  • Flexibility of time
  • Practice of shareholding
  • Flexibility for all in organisation
  • Strong emphasis on personal responsibility
  • Very little formality

This organisation showed how to use modern technology to its best advantage to deliver a service, workers could work from an office base, home base so that when a valued employee moved away from the area, adapting methods ensured that they did not lose the staff member.

Changing Behaviour - ETEC

"One of the fairest and best places I have ever worked for." Quote from interviewee.
This organisation works with a number of different groups to find employment and they apply the same care to their employees that they do for their client group.

  • EO group identifies training needs which are then put to the Board in the form of a proposal.
  • Positive annual appraisal resulting in action plan
  • Opportunities for development and training
  • Personal development high on the agenda. £100.00 available for any personal hobby (staff committee would make decision not management)
  • Ethos is such that staff are encouraged to express problems as a means to seeking solutions as opposed to admission of weakness

Working with the community - APNAR GHAR

This category was perhaps the most difficult for the judges. It was not necessary to be a community organisation to enter this category some ordinary businesses gave good examples of the positive impact they had. The three short-listed organisations however gave impressive evidence of the impact they had on the community including changing attitudes and improving self respect and personal worth.

This organisation really proves the old adage of, "Great Oaks from little acorns grow...". Initially started in one lady's sitting room it now employs more than 14 people from both the BME and the indigenous population. Their ethos has been to identify a local need and then seek a solution. The needs vary from assistance in completing forms (housing benefit, job applications), ensuring people can access services i.e. medical, council, schools. Based in South Shields they fulfill a very useful role for "Marine" wives. The Marine college in South Shields is used by shipping companies throughout the world to train personnel at different stages of seamanship. The courses can take a considerable period so therefore wives often accompany their husbands but are very isolated because they have no contacts within the local community.

With the growing refugee population this organisation has offered support to a multicultural, multiethnic disparate peoples. In this manner they have changed attitudes, generational, sexist and cultural. Although it is primarily a women's organisation they ensure support to men by signposting to ensure the same degree of service.

From a sitting room in a private house Apnar Ghar (Our House) now operates from their own three-storey building and is shortly to expand to larger premises.

New Business - RENEW

In this category the Judges were looking for an organisation to whom Equal Opps are intrinsic, showing that EO is to the benefit of businesses.

Renew was set up as a not for profit company by a consortium of Local Authorities and The Probation Service. The purpose was to offer training and employment to, refugees, ex-offenders and hard to place job seekers. The trainees are employed to recondition white goods which are collected from companies such as Comet, the goods are then available to local disadvantaged communities at a reasonable cost but ensuring that the goods also have a guarantee. In this way the organisation has a valuable environmental purpose as well as serving the local community.

The training encompasses basic literacy, numeracy, reliability and equal opportunities as well as skills in repairing white goods.

The trainees receive regular training. Equal Opportunities is so much a part of the ethos that there is no separation in the attitudes of the trainees, this was exemplified by the interviewee, who when asked by the judges how a particular refugee was integrated with the workforce out of work hours, were met by a blank expression and then a "OH you mean Carlos!!", it was clear that "Carlos" was not perceived as being any different from any other member of the workforce.