As a result of Coronavirus, AEA has halted provision of training workshops and inhouse training for the duration of the epidemic.
In these dark times, we send good wishes to everyone, everywhere.
We are currently developing online training. Please visit again to see our new training opportunities.
AEA was established to further the interests of women and girls in recognition of their continuing disadvantage and discrimination. AEA has two areas of initial activity: (i) Events and (ii) Equality Legislation Training.
Has your organisation already received equality legislation training? If so, your confidence in that training may be misplaced. Scroll down to ‘Updates’ for further information.
- Conferences AEA women-only conferences will inform, inspire, motivate, empower, increase self-esteem, bolster confidence and raise aspirations
- AEA-hosted Workshops in various locations
Equality Legislation Training
- AEA inhouse training for organisations or same sector organisations
- AEA-hosted workshops in various locations (see Events)
As it is for wider society, an awareness of diversity, inclusion and equality is essential for organisations.
It is imperative to understand obligations in regard to the ‘Protected characteristics’ defined in the 2010 Equality Act (EA). Due to an inherent potential for conflicts of interest, fairly balancing the rights of protected characteristics can be complex.
In accordance with its mission, the main focus of AEA Training is the protected characteristic ‘Sex’ and the ‘Single-sex exception’, in the context of a fair balance of rights. AEA Training is inclusive and open to all.
Properly and fairly applied, the EA has the ability to lessen discrimination and disadvantage experienced by women and girls. But there is widespread confusion within organisations – even when equality training has been undergone – about the application/non-application of the EA ‘Single-sex exception’ – see below.
UPDATE, 22 March 2020
AEA recently discovered systemic misguidance in Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) guidance, and also incorrect guidance in Government Equalities Office (GEO) guidance. Incorrect guidance by EHRC is targeted at all sectors but with a predominance of guidance for the corporate sector.
Following formal complaint byAEA, we are now in dialogue with EHRC and GEO.Please check back for further updates.For a brief summary of incorrect guidance see ‘Articles’ page.
Incorrect guidance from EHRC and GEO was undoubtedly instrumental in the ‘widespread confusion’ noted below.
UPDATE, 23 March 2020
EHRC has acknowledged that its guidance is incorrect and has expressed an intention to rectify. However, the EHRC is vague on exactly when that will be done. AEA continues to press for speedy rectification and also, when corrections are made, for a public statement by EHRC to inform organisations of those rectifications.
‘We have already received equality training, why do we need more?’
A 30 July 2019 Report from the Women and Equalities Select Committee (WESC) confirms the existence of widespread confusion within organisations about the EA and the ‘Single-sex exception’ – the Report recommends that a Code of Conduct be drawn up to provide clarity.
Women and Equalities Select Committee Report
- Refers to the increasing spread of “gender-neutral services in breach of the [EA] public sector equality duty”.
- Recommends that a Code of Practice be drawn up to clearly state
- The EA allows single-sex services in certain circumstances.
- Under what circumstances an organisation can choose to extend those services to the protected characteristic of gender reassignment.
- Recommends changes to (i) allow individuals greater access to legal aid and (ii) strengthen the enforcement powers of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), in order that a critical mass of legal actions on the single-sex exception are brought forward to establish precedence and concrete guidance
From our perusal of the websites of many organisations in all sectors, it is clear that confusion about the single-sex exception prevails, as does the use of incorrect terms for EA protected characteristics.
Incorrect official guidance in two pieces of EHRC guidance, which had remained in situ for several years, was a primary source of confusion. Following complaints, the guidance was amended in late 2018 but the rectification was not publicised. Organisations may therefore still be relying on incorrect guidance.
Proposed reform of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act (GRA) was another source of confusion. When GRA reform was announced, government statements strongly indicated revision would include ‘self-identification’ (self-ID), ie the sex with which an individual self-identifies, without a requirement for bodily or other modification. Accordingly, many organisations changed their equality policy, practices and services to be inclusive of self-ID.
However, a legislative outcome of self-ID is not certain.
A public consultation on GRA reform ran July-November 2018. There were more than 100,000 submissions – an unprecedented number. Resultant recommendations have still not been published.
When proposals for law reform are brought forward, normal parliamentary process follows. That process – from First Reading to Commencement [amended law comes into force] – usually takes up to 2 years, but can be longer.
Thus GRA reform may not be fully concluded until late 2021, or even later.
Despite existing obstacles, legal actions on various aspects of the EA are already in progress, with others in preparation. As a result of WESC recommendations, more cases will undoubtedly arise.
This is a precarious situation for organisations. Those with equality policies and services in breach of the EA, are exposed and at risk of legal challenge.
To ensure your organisation is delivering for your staff and clients and is not exposed to potential litigation, a review of relevant policies, practices, service-provision and training requirements would be prudent.