Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

The Equalities Industry: Where Every Day is Conference Season

As many will know who work in the public sector or are connected to it, one is regularly the recipient of junk mail and spam from various bodies flogging places at many wonderful gatherings which purport to be relevant to one’s role.

Sure enough, in the last week or so an invitation from a regular conference provider arrived in my inbox:

Hear from experts – Equality Act 2010

Dear Colleague [sic]

As you all know the Equality Act 2010 will be implemented from 1st October 2010. For this reason we will be holding the 2nd annual Making Equality Work Conference which will take place on Thursday 23rd September 2010 at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel, Kensington, London.

OK. First thing’s first. You sent me this on the 17th September. Does that it not say something about the target audience, as well as the desperation of the organisers? I don’t recall working anywhere where I can drop everything at such short notice to take off a whole day drinking coffee and munching biscuits. Perhaps it’s a dastardly plan by Eric Pickles to root out those who can do such things and so help budget-setters to draw up their ‘little lists’.

Maybe I’m being harsh, though. If it’s something of vital importance to the survival of the organisation, then it may be necessary. Let’s have a look at the conference themes (emphasis not mine):

This one day conference will:

  • Examine how the Equality Act 2010 will be brought into force in the next 12 months

OK, a legal update. Fine. Not sure how it can take up a whole day, though …

  • Bring together equality and diversity professionals and policy makers from across the public and private sectors

Why? Because they have so few friends back at the office?

  • Consider how the new Equality Act will be embedded in the governance and change the management systems of every organisation

In other words, consider how you can still argue that your job is totally indispensable and couldn’t possibly be considered as part of the 25% cuts.”

  • Hear how job roles and resources will change to cover all strands of the new Equality Act to include: Age, Sexual Orientation, Gender Reassignment and Religion/Beliefs, as well as Gender, Race and Disability

Or, how to find lots of work for yourself producing reams of paperwork, committee reports, pleadings for more money business cases for your budget growth items.

  • Hear from government organisations and policy makers how the new Act will be implemented over the next 12 months, when it will come into force and what the legal implications are

Haven’t we done that already (first bullet point)? Oh well, it’s a long day.

  • Hear from experts what the implications are for employees across the workforce
  • Examine how to incorporate the new Act in external and internal communications

Remember to spend a few weeks redrafting the usual equality boilerplate paragraph that appears on every piece of paper your organisation produces.

  • Hear more about draft codes of practice and non-statutory guidance schedules

Non-statutory – you mean, stuff your organisation doesn’t have to do, but you’re going to make sure they think they have to. (If you don’t manage this, then don’t worry – the legal aid funded “equality and diversity professionals” in certain corners of the legal profession will make sure it’s soon part of case law.)

  • Examine the government’s aim of greater transparency including an obligation for public authorities to report on their disability employment rate and a requirement for all organisations to address the controversial issue of the gender pay gap

Ahem, shouldn’t that be “previous government’s”? No, of course not … as the saying goes, “it doesn’t matter how you vote, the government always wins”. Well, here’s hoping the new(ish) lot see some common sense.

Anyway if you had fancied availing yourself of this roller-coaster of excitement, this opportunity to pretend to be doing something useful expensive day off would have been yours for up to £700.

Don’t you sometimes pine for the good old days when ‘equality’ simply meant ‘treating everyone the same’?

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2 responses to “The Equalities Industry: Where Every Day is Conference Season

  1. Nicholas Bennett September 30, 2010 at 1:44 am

    When I ran a national professional association our HR policy (drafted by yours truely)was one line – “We will treat all employees with equity”. Equality can be so unfair particularly as we are not all equal. Treating people in an equitable way would mean giving extra help etc if it were needed.

    • Vir Cantium September 30, 2010 at 9:58 am

      Good point. The case of disabled people is a clear example where few would object to some positive discrimination. The trouble is that a common sense approach such as this has long been contorted beyond reason by those making a lucrative career out of “equalities”.

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