Within our fostering service we wholeheartedly support the principles of equalities and oppose all forms of discrimination on the grounds of the Race, Disability, Age, Gender Reassignment, Pregnancy & Maternity, Marriage & Civil Partnership, Sex, Sexual Orientation, and Religion & Belief. These are known as the Protected Characteristics. It is in both the service’s best interest and those who work with us to ensure that the attributes, talents and skills available throughout the community are recognised and utilised in the interests of children in care. The overriding principle is that carers recruited and approved are those best able to provide a stable and safe home for children. Every possible step will be taken to ensure that carers and potential carers are all treated equally and fairly and that all decisions including those on recruitment, approval, training and development are based solely on related standards, policies and regulations. As a manager I am responsible for implementing the equalities policy and ensuring staff and carers receive training, read polices and act in accordance with the principles of equality.
Our Values, beliefs and attitudes are usually deeply ingrained and they are reinforced by our cultural context, which leads us to believe that they are true. It is only when these values and beliefs are challenged, either by new information or different experiences that demonstrate that those beliefs may be flawed, that many people’s values are reflected on and, where appropriate, changed. Even when individual’s views can be shown to be discriminatory or inconsistent with other values that they hold, deeply held beliefs may be resistant to change. My role is in raising awareness and challenging discrimination and prejudice and ensuring unacceptable behaviours are addressed.
However, it is not just individuals and groups that can be prejudiced and discriminatory. As Thompson points out significant structural barriers exist that discriminate negatively on individuals. Unwritten policies for example around employing women in their 20’s and 30’s in managerial posts because of the potential for them to leave or take maternity leave when they have children. Alternatively, the organisation that fails to provide accessible toilets for those in wheelchairs is discriminatory and in breach of the law. Many organisations are constrained by the premises and resources available to them in developing completely fair facilities. However, this is not an excuse for doing nothing.