Our approach to equality, diversity and inclusion
Our approach to equality, diversity and inclusion
When we talk about equality, diversity and inclusion, it’s with an understanding that these are separate but interlinked issues, which may need different approaches.
Equality means making sure that everyone is treated fairly and with dignity and respect. It means challenging discrimination and removing barriers, so that everyone has opportunities to achieve their desired outcomes.
Diversity is about recognising the benefits of different values, abilities, and perspectives, and celebrating people’s differences. This means promoting an environment that welcomes and values diverse backgrounds, thinking, skills and experience.
Inclusion is providing a space where everyone has equal access to opportunities and resources, and where everyone feels valued and accepted. Everyone should be able to contribute and have a voice. This may mean making reasonable adjustments to facilitate participation.
The social work profession is guided by its values and principles of anti-racist and anti-oppressive practice. This means that social workers are uniquely placed to lead the way, advocating for equality in our society.
As the specialist regulator for social workers, we know that we also have a key role to play in leading the way. Equality and diversity are central to our work as an effective regulator and employer. It's one of the professional standards we set for all social workers.
We strive to ensure that anyone who engages with us finds it easy to do so. We want you to feel we support you and treat you fairly, with dignity and respect.
We know there is more for us to do as an organisation and as the specialist regulator for social workers. Across all of our work, we continue to focus on tackling racism and oppression.
Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: Ahmina Akhtar
Ahmina works to raise the profile of equality, diversity and inclusion across our organisation. This includes providing advice, support and constructive challenge. She also develops and implements our equality, diversity and inclusion strategy, plans and policies.
Ahmina qualified as a social worker in 2008. She completed an MA in Integrated Practice in 2017 and is also a qualified trainer and coach. Before joining us as regional engagement lead, her last role was as senior practitioner at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. Ahmina previously worked for Changing Faces and was pivotal in setting up the first localised support centre outside of London in Sheffield. She established various support clinics throughout Yorkshire and the Humber to offer tailored support to individuals affected by disfigurement. Prior to this she worked in several educational, community, voluntary and health settings. She is also on several boards where she is instrumental in driving strategic and cultural change.
Ahmina is supported by a dedicated equality, diversity and inclusion officer.
Our behaviours and values are important to us. They shape and steer our interactions with each other and with everyone that we come into contact with, both internally and externally. We developed our behaviours and values together with our staff. We’re proud of them and what they mean to us as an employer and a specialist regulator.
What we've done so far
Highlights from the last few years
As a regulator, we:
- have published standards and guidance for social work professionals and education and training providers. These include our equality, diversity and inclusion requirements
- have published equality and diversity reasonable adjustments guidance that outlines our legal obligations with regards to equality and diversity. This also includes our reasonable adjustment process at fitness to practise hearings
- regularly test the accessibility of our website and update our accessibility statement. We can offer support for people to tell us about their concerns, provide information in alternative formats, and make adjustments if they’re visiting us in person
- have built a clearer picture of the diversity of the workforce. This will help us to identify any trends or differences in outcomes for people in relation to their backgrounds. We can then take steps to ensure our policies and processes are fair and equal to everyone
- co-produce Social Work Week annually. This event brings together thousands of people to share experiences, insight and learning from all areas of social work. Equality, diversity and inclusion are a core theme each year
As an employer, we have:
- achieved the Employer Network for Equality and Inclusion (ENEI) Talent and Inclusion Diversity Evaluation bronze award for 2022 to 2023
- become a Disability Confident employer
- signed up to the CIPD Race at Work Charter and Mindful Business Charter
- developed a pilot positive action mentoring scheme. We actively encouraged applications from disabled employees, and people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds. This is because these individuals are currently underrepresented throughout Social Work England. We also encouraged applications from LGBTQIA+ people. This is because proportionately we have a larger representation of LGBTQIA+ people, but are aware that not everyone feels able to come out at work
- included competencies related to equality and diversity in our behaviours and values framework that applies to all employees. At a leadership level, we expect that our people work to (do all of the following):
- understand differences and maximise the strengths that come from diversity
- model behaviours that value diversity and equal opportunity
- challenge discriminatory and aggressive behaviours
- be consistent and fair in their treatment of colleagues
- strengthened how we consider equality, diversity and inclusion in our recruitment and selection processes. This includes (both of the following):
- updating recruitment briefing information to share more information around bias (and how to minimise it)
- launching a targeted recruitment drive to appoint a new pool of partners. This focused on reaching people from diverse communities
- continued to champion and develop a range of staff networks. These networks:
- offer challenge and support to Social Work England(where appropriate)
- influence our organisational culture
- provide views on how we can best support our people
- submitted our validation application for Disability Confident Leader accreditation
Our aims and plans
Our new strategy for 2023 to 2026 is guided by 2 main principles:
- Equality, diversity and inclusion must be integral to and embedded in all we do.
- We must always listen to, engage with and co-produce alongside those who are directly influenced by our work.
Some of our key goals for the next 3 years include (all of the following):
- continue analysing our diversity data, to identify how we can make our policies and processes fair and equal
- ensure equality in education and training
- further collaborate with the social work profession, key stakeholders, and people with lived experience of social work
As we strive to embed equality, diversity and inclusion into every aspect of how we regulate social work, we hope the sector will take joint action to bring these values into every aspect of social work.
Our action plan
Read our equality, diversity and inclusion action plan for 2023 to 2024.Read the action plan
Our strategy for 2023 to 2026
For more information on our aims and plans, read our corporate strategy. You can also access an Easy Read version of the strategy, and a video summary.Read the strategy
Engagement and co-production
We see co-production as intrinsically linked with equality, diversity and inclusion. We can only be sure that we're equal and fair if we collaborate with the people affected by our work.
Because co-production is essential to what we do, we're working hard to remove any barriers to engagement.
We strive to co-produce as much of our work as possible, with influence from (all of the following):
- social workers and the social work profession
- our key stakeholders
- those with lived experience of social work
Equality, diversity and inclusion steering group
The equality, diversity and inclusion steering group is a group of Social Work England staff. The group meet on a monthly basis.Learn more about the steering group
National Advisory Forum
Our National Advisory Forum provides expert advice, support and challenge to our work and how we achieve our objectives.Learn more about the National Advisory Forum
A diverse and inclusive working culture
We know the social work profession is diverse. We also know that the range of people who receive support from social workers is diverse.
We want our organisation to reflect this, by building a diverse workforce. People from different backgrounds and with different experiences provide us with fresh ideas, broader perspectives, and insights into needs and challenges. We believe that working in a diverse team helps broadens everyone’s horizons, making for a more innovative and stimulating place to work.
The more diverse we are, the greater the talent that we have and the better organisation we can be. That’s why as an employer, we’re committed to creating an inclusive culture. We want people from all backgrounds and abilities to reach their full potential and bring their whole selves to work.
Reporting and data
The gender pay gap is the difference between the average (mean or median) earnings of men and women across a workforce. It is a measure of the roles across our organisation, not of the difference in pay between men and women in the same job role.
We ask all social workers to answer some voluntary questions about who they are. This data helps us to (do all of the following):
- identify where social workers may be impacted by inequality or discrimination (such as in fitness to practise referrals)
- better understand the impact of our policies (such as in relation to the annual review of continuing professional development)
- ensure fairness in our processes (such as our overseas application process)
- build a more accurate and detailed picture of the social work profession