Equality Rep Network
Equality Rep Network
We are currently working on further developing our Equality Rep Network. The network aims to allow reps who work around equalities to communicate with one another to share good practice, offer guidance, receive support, and increase knowledge and contacts. At present, we are speaking with union equalities officers and reps, as well as union branches who are working around equalities about what issues they are facing and what direction they would like to see a future network move in. If you have any suggestions around this, or would like to get involved, please email Denise Christie.
For now, you can follow our twitter for updates.
This section includes important resources on key topics Reps identified as needing greater support on. This section is being updated regularly. While some of these resources are framed in a Trade Union context, others are from independent organisations, which should be considered when gathering information to relay to members. Please get in touch if you require information on a specific equalities topic.
Scottish Union Learning is organising two Scotland-wide Equality Rep virtual networking sessions, most likely using Zoom. The sessions will be an opportunity to connect with other Equality Reps from around Scotland, discuss issues we are currently facing, possible collective solutions, and any learning needs you may currently have. From these sessions, we hope to produce an action plan on how we can support one another through this testing time.
The Equality Rep Network has a Facebook group with over 80 members. If you are an Equality Rep and would like to join the group, please follow the link and request to join.
What is an Equality Rep?
An Equality Rep is a union representative whose priority it is to proactively promote equality and diversity, inform their union and their employer on the facts relevant to their context, and to keep equality and diversity firmly on the agenda in negotiations and activities. Equality Reps play an advisory role to members around equality issues, and are often instrumental in shaping workplace policy and practice.
Why do we need Equality Reps?
Equality Reps are an important tool for unions to continue their role in promoting equality and diversity. Essentially, they develop the moral argument for being a more inclusive and diverse workplace. The presence of Equality Reps increases the likelihood of people speaking up about inequalities, which then encourages employers to respond to these issues, improving equality practices to prevent issues re-emerging.
Equality Reps are critical in terms of Fair Work. The Scottish Government has made clear its ambition for Scotland to be a leading nation in Fair Work by 2025. If we are to achieve this, then we must support the role of Equality Rep and be proactive in achieving greater equality.
Aren’t all reps Equality Reps?
While all reps should care about equality and diversity, that doesn’t mean all reps have the skills to be able to advise members on issues around equality. Each union approaches the role of Equality Rep differently, however. In some unions, the role of Equality Rep is a stand-alone role taken by someone who has a keen interest in equality and diversity. In other unions, the role of Equality Rep may be split with other union responsibilities (Shop Stewards, Health and Safety Reps or Union Learning Reps). Reps that take on multiple union responsibilities are sometimes referred to as ‘hybrid reps’. In fact, 85% of Equality Reps in England and Wales are claimed to be ‘hybrid reps’.
How many Equality Reps are there?
Currently, there has been no formal evaluation of the number of Equality Reps in Scotland.
What are some barriers faced by Equality Reps?
Equality Reps are faced with a number of challenges which can impact the effectiveness of their role. The main barrier faced by Equality Reps is that they do not have the right to statutory release to fulfil their duties. This differentiates Equality Reps from other reps, such as Health and Safety Reps or Shop Stewards.
In our equalities survey that was circulated in Spring 2019, over two-thirds of respondents claimed having no statutory release as the biggest barrier to their work as an Equality Rep.
Because there is no statutory release, many employers do not take the role of Equality Rep seriously, and this was noted as being a significant barrier to the work of Equality Reps. Similarly, because each union approaches the role of Equality Rep differently, many reps feel as though there is a lack of support for their role.
How do I become an Equality Rep?
If you wish to become an Equality Rep, contact your union or TUC Education to find out about training opportunities.
How can I make suggestions or feedback?
If you have any suggestions, please email Denise Christie.
Accessibility Guide - Equality Rep Network Scottish Union Learning teamed up with Trade Union Equality Reps and disabled workers around Scotland to produce an employer-focussed accessibility guide.