The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority is required, under the Public Sector Equality Duty (Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010), to publish information in order to demonstrate compliance with the Act. In particular, this includes information relating to people who share relevant protected characteristics that may be affected by our policies and practices.
The Authority is committed to the delivery of the Equality Duty as demonstrated in this Statement and will continue to set Corporate Plan targets which provide challenging goals and include consideration of equality, diversity and inclusion issues, and to monitor and publish information on performance against those targets.
The Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Working Group will meet twice a year to ensure the Authority adheres to equality legislation and continues to strive for best practice. The Authority will also continue to maintain the Customer Service Excellence Award and the Investors in People Standard.
Julie Hutton writes:
As Member Champion for Corporate Management, I am aware of the enormous range of activities and projects we are involved in within the National Park Authority. I’m also aware that the various lockdowns and continuing challenges of COVID-19 have certainly played in part in shaping the different ways we are now working as a organisation.
Since COVID-19 first arrived on our shores a lot of thought has gone into how we can continue to support our local communities, continue to deliver services to the highest standard, and continue to help staff with their own individual situations as best we can during this unprecedented period.
Everyone has felt the effect of the pandemic in some way, and this period we’re going through is having both negative and positive impacts on our lives, even as we move back to some freedom.
You may still be self-isolating, struggling to stay positive, facing financial worries, or wondering what normal will look like in the future. Or you might be enjoying more time with family whilst getting children back to school after difficult periods with home schooling and, in some cases, enjoying a slightly slower pace to life, now we have experienced spending more time at home.
I hope that we might cherish some of the things we took for granted before the pandemic, like time, family, community, and the environment.
This virus has no boundaries or prejudices, and, as we begin to return to the workplace, whether full-time or in a hybrid way, this is the perfect moment to take stock and to start afresh with a renewed purpose and focus. And, for us at the National Park Authority, it’s an opportunity to consider again how our workplace can better reflect diversity and inclusivity.
We have the right awards – for example, Investors in People and Customer Excellence -, and these have been well earned, but it’s about how we act and move forward in our day-to-day lives and in the workplace that really matters.
In June 2019, Cabinet Office published a revised Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies. This set out the personal and professional standards to which all public sector non-executive board members should adhere. The Cabinet Office Code broadly reflects the National Park Authority’s Code and includes new provisions – in particular, a responsibility to promote an inclusive and diverse culture, which is reflective of the Government’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
You may be aware that the lack of diversity, in the organisation and in the National Park visitor demographic, are issues that were highlighted by the Government’s recently commissioned Landscapes Review.
As a public body we are required to have regard to the public sector Equality Duty in everything we do. This sounds quite authoritative and is incredibly important, but, in reality, it is about doing things in the right way, making everyone feel included, and going out of our way not to exclude anyone through the activities and the projects we take forward.
It is about ensuring that we take care of our people in the Authority, trying to attract underrepresented groups into roles within the organisation. For example, our recruitment process treats all job applications equally, regardless of age, disability, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, or any other equality characteristic. And we make clear that we particularly encourage applications from people from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds, as this group are currently under-represented throughout our staff body.
And it’s about how we make the National Park itself accessible to all – for example, through creating ‘miles without stiles’ routes, the ‘ease of use’ work we do on rights of way – our aim is to have 90% of all our routes ‘easy to use’ by 2023 (we’re currently at 88%), our partnership with the Crohn’s and Colitis charity to ensure our toilets are accessible for all (including those without a visible disability), providing 6,000 people from under-represented groups with activity days that enable them to access the special qualities of the National Park, and our recent collaboration with the walking group Black Girls Hike, highlighting the many different ways to access and enjoy walks in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
We are also doing much more through our Management Plan and our Action Plan, and these will need to be looked at a little differently in light of COVID-19. We are a determined bunch and will want to see as much taken forward as we can to support local communities.
As we develop projects, we carry out Equality Impact Assessments to ensure we are taking the right direction in our work. It helps steer the scope and focus of the activity and is about ensuring we keep an eye on the services and practices operated by the Authority in terms of equality, diversity and inclusion awareness, and looking at best practice elsewhere.
I hope this has provided a brief insight into the work we are undertaking around equality, diversity and inclusion, and we are always looking for new ideas to take these areas of work forward. The Authority’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy can be read and downloaded here, and the Authority’s latest Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity statement can be read and downloaded here.