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Challenging Inequality

Challenging inequality, racism and injustice is mission critical for Islington. We cannot realise our vision of creating a fairer borough for all our residents without tackling the inequality that continues to blight lives across our community.

A fairer Islington is one where everyone, regardless of background, has the opportunity to realise their potential and enjoy a good quality of life. Tackling inequality requires dedicated attention, effort and leadership to be bold, ambitious and drive forward changes that challenge the status quo.

That is why we are proud to launch our Challenging Inequality Programme. The programme strategy sets out Islington’s long term ambition for challenging inequality, inequity, discrimination and promoting inclusion.

Senior leaders and stakeholders from across the council have come together to pledge their support to Challenging Inequality - watch the video:

 

Islington is a diverse borough with a proud history of championing equality for all. We believe our diversity is our strength, with difference enriching our lives and helping us towards our collective goals. This strength and inclusive ethos is something we should celebrate. Yet, it is also a borough of contrasts, where the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ is stark, and where one in three children is growing up in poverty. There is still too big a gap between those with secure, good-quality housing and those without; between those with the confidence, networks and qualifications to seize opportunities and those who feel such opportunities are out of reach.

 

The rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and COVID-19 have highlighted deep inequality and the systemic, structural racism that continues to pervade our society, impacting on both quality of life and outcomes for individuals from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds and communities. Yet, in doing so, they have also triggered a widespread reckoning, both nationally and globally, in which we – all of us – have a duty to ask ourselves what more we can do to bring about meaningful change. 

 

We are determined to improve life chances for our residents and staff, ensuring no-one is left behind. Tackling these issues will require everyone to play their part so that we can drive tangible change that makes a difference. We will listen and work alongside our staff and community to understand the issues, plan and take action together ensuring we monitor and evaluate the impact of our actions. We know this is not easy work – it’s a lifetime commitment and endeavour. But with the launch of our strategy, we commit to this being our top priority as a council and we will work tirelessly with our partners and community to ensure we create a fairer, more inclusive borough for all.

 

Our framework for challenging inequality in every capacity available to us, is designed to take advantage of our position as a strategic leader, as an employer and as a service provider and commissioner. We have chosen to focus on race equality in the first instance, whilst taking an intersectional approach, and in doing so hope to develop a framework for making change that can be broadened and extended to tackle inequalities across the board. On disability for example, we are committed to achieving the next level of the Disability Confident Employer scheme, reviewing our approach to reasonable adjustments and completing a range of initiatives to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination through our Time to Change Islington Employer Pledge. We will look to develop specific commitments through a new chapter in our strategy later in the year.

 

This strategy sets out the story of our work so far to create a fairer borough for all, our progress in going beyond our public sector equality duty and the challenges we still face. It explains the process of reflection and action we have taken to build our Challenging Inequality Programme before outlining our approach for the future. The strategy presents the specific actions we will take under our three key strands and the outcomes we will monitor to ensure our vision translates into tangible change for residents and staff. Finally, it illustrates our commitment to be transparent, accountable and open through our governance and monitoring structures.

 

Download the Challenging Inequality Strategy (pdf)

 

Going beyond our public sector equality duty

As a public body, Islington Council actively meets and exceeds our Public Sector Equality Duty as set out under the Equality Act 2010 and firmly believes in our intention to promote a fair and more equal society. The act protects people from discrimination on the basis of nine ‘protected characteristics’:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Religion and belief 
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Gender reassignment 
  • Maternity and pregnancy

 

As a public authority we must comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty which requires us to have due regard to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation
  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a characteristic and those who do not
  • Foster good relations between people who share a characteristic and those who do not 

 

While carrying out these legal requirements remains an indispensable part of our mission to create a fairer Islington, we will not stop there. Through our Challenging Inequality Programme we will go above and beyond our public sector equality duty. Our aim to deliver tangible change through the actions set out in this strategy will replace the series of equality objectives published by the council in previous years.

 

Alongside the nine protected characteristics, we will continue our focus on socio-economic disadvantage. Through effective use of Equality Impact Assessments we will ensure that the council systematically thinks through the impact of its decisions on both residents and staff to ensure that we meet the needs of our diverse community and that Islington’s commitment to fairness is translated into practice.

 

Key concepts from our strategy

Diversity

The Aspen Institute explains that “Diversity has come to refer to the various backgrounds…that comprise a community, nation or other grouping. In many cases the term diversity does not just acknowledge the existence of diversity of background, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and so on, but implies an appreciation of these differences.” Diversity is about promoting mutual respect and understanding, moving past tolerance to celebrating the rich dimensions within each individual or group and empowering our entire community.

Equality

According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission “equality is about ensuring that every individual has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents. It is also the belief that no one should have poorer life chances because of the way they were born, where they come from, what they believe, or whether they have a disability”. For us in Islington, equality is also about social justice and equality of outcome, recognising that different people have different contexts and backgrounds and will need differentiated support in order to achieve similar outcomes.

Fairness

Equality means giving everyone the same opportunities. Fairness is more about equity, giving more to those who need it and treating people in accordance to their circumstances. For everyone to have the same opportunities we must give extra support to those who need it.

Inclusive

An inclusive Islington is one in which every section of the local community has access and opportunity to participate in decision-making, community life and the workforce. For instance, according to the Runnymede Trust financial inclusion “means that everyone in society is able to access and use appropriate and affordable financial goods and services.” Truly included individuals should feel a sense of belonging and of being a valued member of the community.

Intersectional

UN Women explains that “an intersectional approach shows the way that people’s social identities can overlap, creating compounding experiences of discrimination.” The idea is that the individual identities people have, such as race, class and gender, intersect to create a different, unique understanding and experience of oppression.

Structural racism

The Aspen Institute defines structural racism as “a system in which public policies, institutional practices cultural representations and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequity... Structural racism is not something that a few people or institutions choose to practice. Instead it has been a feature of the social, economic and political systems in which we all exist”.
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