Polkadot Group Equality and Diversity Policy

Introduction
Everyone is different and has something unique to offer. Polkadot Group Ltd wants to respect and understand these differences and to make the most of everyone’s talents and if possible reflect the communities we serve.

Diversity is about understanding, recognising, respecting and valuing differences.

Equality is about managing differences so that everyone has equality of  opportunity through a fair and consistent approach to the application of rules, policies and procedures. We recognise that sometimes this will mean treating people differently.

Polkadot Group Ltd is committed to providing services which embrace diversity and that promote equality of opportunity. We recognise, celebrate and promote the positive contributions that are made by people with sensory impairments and other disabilities, in shaping the support they receive and the direction of our organisation.

We are also committed to equality and valuing diversity within our workforce and with the volunteers who give their time to us. We expect them to understand and accept their personal responsibility to recognise and value differences and the unique contributions that people make to the way we deliver our services.

Our goal is to ensure that these commitments (reinforced by our values and the behaviours detailed in the ‘I’ statements), are embedded in our day-to-day working practices, policies and relationships with our service users, colleagues and the partners and communities with whom we work.We will not tolerate discrimination on grounds of gender, gender identity, marital status, civil partnerships, sexual orientation, race, colour, nationality, religion, age, disability, HIV positivity, working pattern, caring responsibilities, trade union activity or political beliefs, or any other grounds. Neither will we tolerate either direct or indirect behaviours that are intended to bully, harass, isolate or victimise for reasons connected to individual differences. No-one will receive less favourable treatment and everyone will be given the opportunity to grow and flourish.

A commitment to this policy is required by everyone who works for us, alongside us to and/or who are engaged with us in any way. In applying this policy we will adhere to the equalities legislation of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Principles
This policy is underpinned by the I statements, and the principles we will follow in applying it are as follows:
• We will listen to the different and varying views of colleagues; and seek to understand their perspectives.
• We will respond where concerns are raised about equality of opportunity, discrimination, harassment or victimisation.
• We will be respectful, honest and open in all our interactions with colleagues; being mindful of differences in backgrounds and protected characteristics.
• We will be honest and open about the diversity of our workforce; recording monitoring and reporting regularly.
• We will involve you in resolving any issues; always encouraging informal resolution where possible to maintain engagement and positive working relationships.
• We will create a positive culture throughout where equality, diversity and respect are core values and at the center of all our activities.
• We will work towards the elimination of discrimination (whether direct, indirect; or through victimization or harassment).
• We will ensure the highest possible standards are achieved in the delivery of our services and employment practices and the promotion of equality and diversity through our work.
• In assessing the delivery of services and contractors we will take into account our diversity policy and objectives.

Promoting equality and diversity
We will ensure that in the development and use of employment procedures and practices, no person or group of people will suffer detriment in recruitment, promotion, development and exit from the organisation; in the access to training facilities or other benefits or, will endure discriminatory behaviour in their everyday work, or when they are in receipt of services from us.

We will work towards a culture where discriminatory behaviour is routinely challenged in a respectful and constructive manner so the person displaying such behaviour has a chance to correct this. If they are unwilling to change their behaviour or the behaviour is so serious, then disciplinary action should result. Their continued engagement with us should be considered as set out in our disciplinary policy and procedure. All complaints of discrimination, bullying, harassment, victimisation, intolerance or lack of respect for individuals will be sensitively investigated and, if reasonably proven, will result in appropriate action.

Where tensions exist amongst staff as a result of differences in the basic values of their beliefs, cultures or non-beliefs, then we will assess the correct way of resolving the issue by examining the degree to which individuals are affected and the level of intolerance shown. In applying this policy we will adhere to the equalities legislation applicable in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Below are some examples to illustrate how this policy impacts on all policies and practices. This list is not exhaustive as each situation must be considered on its merits.

General standards of behaviour
We expect everyone to conduct themselves in a professional and considerate manner at all times. We will not tolerate behavioursuch as:
• Bullying, harassment or victimisation
• Physical violence
• Shouting or swearing
• Rudeness
• Isolating, ignoring or refusing to work or communicate with certain people
• Telling offensive or potentially offensive jokes or name calling
• The display of offensive material such as pornography or sexist/racist cartoons
• Lewd gestures or remarks
• Distribution of offensive or potentially offensive material by any means e.g. via email/sms message.

We are all responsible for considering the impact of our behaviour and actions on others. It is the impact of the behaviour rather than the intent which is important. Whilst all situations will be considered on a case by case basis it is not acceptable for us to simply justify our actions by either blaming other’s for being over-sensitive or by saying we did not intend any offence to be caused.

Responsibilities and who this policy affects
We believe that it is the responsibility of everyone involved with the organisation to uphold strong working practices. This ensures an environment of equality and diversity is maintained and celebrated.

Everyone involved with us has a duty to:
• Promote equality and diversity in the delivery of services.
• Ensure that everyone associated with us is treated in a non-discriminatory way.
• Promote a welcoming environment in which individuals from all backgrounds feel welcome, valued and respected.

The role of employees
• Act in a respectful and tolerant manner to others at all times.
• Undertake training or development about equality and diversity issues.
• Challenge in a respectful and professional manner, any behaviour that could be interpreted as unfairly discriminatory. Toraise issues with your line manager or a member of the HR department where we feel unable to challenge discriminatory behaviour.
• Understand what is expected of us in terms of our behaviour and conduct towards others.
• Take advice from managers if we’re unsure of what to do in particular circumstances.
• Not to discriminate in our interactions with deaf blind people, their families, staff or anyone else connected with us.
• Set a positive example in everything we do.
• Listen to and respect others, and not dismiss their concerns as “trivial”.

The role of Managers
Managers have an additional responsibility to:
• Ensure systems, procedures and services do not discriminate.
• Discourage discrimination.
• Take steps to challenge inappropriate behaviour immediately.
• Support and implement action that we take to improve diversity and equal opportunities.
• Encourage everyone to maximise their contribution to improving the lives of the deaf blind people we support.
• Embed the principles of diversity within their teams and the departments, services or shops they manage.
• Ensure everyone has access to training and development which enables us to put our diversity policy into practice.

What to do if you are concerned or feel you have been discriminated against
If you believe that you have been subject to bullying, harassment, discrimination or victimisation of any kind then you should try to discuss the issues with your line manager to try to resolve the matter. If you have tried this route and it hasn’t resolved the issues or if you don’t feel able to approach your line manager about your concerns then you should try to talk to their line manager with a view to resolving the issue.

If you have tried to resolve the issues informally with support from a manager but this hasn’t been successful you are able to raise your concerns through the grievance policy. You should refer to the grievance policy in deciding how to raise your concern; your manager or the HR department can help you to decide on the most appropriate way of doing this.

Where we have formed a reasonable belief that this policy has been breached and/or acts of discrimination, harassment or victimization have occurred, the issues will be managed through the disciplinary procedure. In circumstances where a deaf blind person in receipt of services or support from us, their family member, a volunteer or an external person connected with us believes they have been the subject or harassment or discrimination, they should refer to the Complaints Policy a copy of which can be found on our website.

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