The first step in inclusion is to realise that people are different, and I’m sure, as leaders, you are aware of the differences in the pupils you serve.
I have issues with the current language around equality, diversity and inclusion. I know part of this is semantics, but words are important—specifically, the words tolerance and equality.I have issues with the current language around equality, diversity and inclusion. I know part of this is semantics, but words are important—specifically, the words tolerance and equality. Click To Tweet
All staff should be tolerated for their individual differences; I’m going to swap a word there ‘All pupils should be tolerated…’ I find a disconnect between the connotation of tolerance and what happens in schools. So let’s all embrace each other’s differences and uniqueness as a start.
Equality, this grates the aim is and was never equality. If we treat everyone the same in an unequal society, all this will serve to do is make society more unequal. Let us look at your school as an unequal microcosm of social practices, in the classroom; we all make adjustments for pupils to achieve their potential treating them equally, all the same, is not an option. As a profession, do we treat staff in the same way?
Women are less likely to apply for roles where they do not match 100% of the job description.
‘Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them.’Women are less likely to apply for roles where they do not match 100% of the job description. 'Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them.' Click To Tweet
The conclusion initially came from a Hewlett Packard internal report and quoted in various confidence-building literature. Now if we continue to treat people the same through the same processes, this will be replicated in the applications you receive. Consequently, leading to the organisation missing out on new talent and mismanaging the swathes of talent already within your school body.
The Equalities Act 2010
What are these differences? What does the law have to say? The protected characteristics as per the equalities act 2010 are:
- gender reassignment;
- marriage and civil partnership;
- pregnancy and maternity;
- religion or belief;
- sexual orientation.
The act is in current legislation. There is a legal and moral duty not to discriminate through Direct, Indirect, Harassment and or Victimisation.The equalities act is in current legislation. There is a legal and moral duty not to discriminate through Direct, Indirect, Harassment and or Victimisation. What are the legal responsibilities? Click To Tweet
Direct discrimination is when people are treated less favourably because they have or there is a perception that they own a protected characteristic. Direct discrimination can also occur through association with someone who possesses or is perceived to possess protected characteristics.
Indirect discrimination is usually to do with whole school policies, practices or criteria. If any of these procedures adversely impact those with protected characteristics; it may be viewed as indirect discrimination.Indirect discrimination is usually to do with whole school policies, practices or criteria. If any of these procedures adversely impact those with protected characteristics; it may be viewed as indirect discrimination. Click To Tweet
Harassment is unwanted conduct regarding a protected characteristic it may have an impact on the person’s dignity equally creating an intimidating, hostile and humiliating environment for them.
Victimisation is when a person is disadvantaged, and their lives are put at a detriment because of alleging, participating or supporting in the process of making a complaint or grievance of discrimination.
It is worth noting here that intent is not a requirement; this means that even if discrimination occurs unintentionally, a claim can still be successful.
The Public Sector Equality duty
The state schools public sector equality duty which means that schools have a responsibility to consider all individuals when carrying out their day to day work, in shaping policy, in delivering services and of course in relation to their own employees.
It also requires that public bodies have due regard to the need to:
- eliminate discrimination
- advance equality of opportunity
- foster good relations between different people when carrying out their activities
More than the legalities mentioned above, there are other advantages. Why diversity matters (Mackinsey 2015) states that gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform financially, and ethnically-diverse companies are 35% when comparing the top to the bottom quartiles for diversity.
In 2018 Delivering Through Diversity report (Makinsey 2018) stated
‘The statistically significant correlation between a more diverse leadership team and financial outperformance demonstrated three years ago continues to hold true on an updated, enlarged, and global data set.’'The statistically significant correlation between a more diverse leadership team and financial outperformance demonstrated three years ago continues to hold true on an updated, enlarged, and global data set.' Mckinsey 2018 Click To Tweet
Diversity is not only the right thing to do morally and legally but leads to gaining the best expertise and talent. There are real advantages in looking at the retention rates and HR records of staff who possess protected characteristics, the longer a member staff stays in your organisation, the better it is for everyone.
Simply objectively analysing records such application for CPD and acceptances of CPD, grievances and recruitment records may throw up some trends that you may find need action. Part of my consultancy work includes analysis of these trends with regards to:
- Who applies for your positions
- Who you long/shortlist
- Who interviews?
- Who do you appoint?
- Who applies for CPD?
- Whose CPD requests are accepted?
Practices which ameliorate discrimination are often over overlooked; The NASUWT and Runnymede’s Visible Minorities, Invisible Teachers 2017 report ‘showed that twice the proportion of BME teachers reported they had experienced discrimination in the workplace in the last 12 months (31%)’
“It may not be deliberate racism on the part of an individual…”
but institutional practices discriminate against a particular group of teachers.” (Gus John, visiting Faculty Professor of Education at the University of Strathclyde)The NASUWT and Runnymede's Visible Minorities, Invisible Teachers 2017 report 'showed that twice the proportion of BME teachers reported they had experienced discrimination in the workplace in the last 12 months (31%)' Click To Tweet
You may be reading this and thinking that I am calling you a bigot, racist, sexist, etc. and or that you willingly discriminate against people. I am not. We line in a world where specific negative associations are perpetuated through every outlet and facet of our lives. So much so that, leadership prototypes and toxic associations are formed in all of our minds. It is our duty to appoint the best people for the job by accounting for our own biases in the process.
While recruiting leaders find this extremely difficult, how many of us have appointed on that feeling,
That the candidate will fit better into the team.
We’d work together well.
These are all examples of obvious bias at play. When appointing people, the only question is can they do the job defined in the job description.
There have been some steps in this process. Often teachers are appointed through a recruitment process which excludes names and age and other parts of the application; This process is referred to as blind recruitment, I would be remiss if I did not point out the ableist language here. However, this is not always the case nationally. Most application forms are cumbersome and not fit for purpose.
Leaders look at the why of your recruitment and what sort of applicants you will attract. If the aim of your application process is to find a field of people who can have excellent English skills and can craft a beautiful supporting statement then stick to the traditional systems in place. Decide what is important to you as a leader and what is essential for the school. Many headteachers will say it is the candidate who matters, their impact and their passion, so if that is your aim, are we all asking the wrong questions?
I would advocate a process which asks direct questions around the specifics of role would be a much better method. The process can be made more equitable by the removals all proper nouns pre leaders individually assessing each answer (against the job description) in isolation and only collating the full CV after the shortlist has decided. We are currently in the process of developing a package which makes this process more manageable; iI you are interested in more information, send us a message through the contact us page.
During the interview process, this is where we have to disrupt the habits of our mind. A first step is an acknowledging that you hold common biases and then concentrating on solely assessing your candidates against the job description and nothing else. This check on my preferences necessary for every single leader, even as a man of colour, I also have an implicit bias toward white males.This check on my preferences necessary for every single leader, personally, even as a man of colour, I also have an implicit bias toward white males. Click To Tweet
To disrupt out lenses, I advocate having the following conversation with yourself pre-judgement.
- I know I am biased – acting on this is wholly unacceptable and contributes to an unfair world.
- My bias will likely be towards white males and against [insert characteristic of people you are judging]
- This may make me feel uneasy and uncomfortable, but this feeling is better than discriminating.
- This is not about fault, but we are and have all been guilty about holding this biases.
- I am assessing this person against criteria – what was said (not tone)? What are the qualities the person *actually* displayed? Am I assuming things that were not mentioned?
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References and Further Reading