Karen Blanchford is the Partnership Director of We All Matter, Eh? (GDA), Founder of Equality Guernsey and Access for All and a council member of AGC.
In late 2015 I returned to Guernsey having persuaded my employers, SuccessFactors (SAP) that I could run our Asia and Europe VIP programme from the hub of Guernsey! The travel links were not what they were when I was in private banking and digital connectivity was unreliable for such a remote role. So I started to look for Senior roles that had flexible working but they were non-existent. Since I went overseas
to broaden my skills in new sectors such as mining, rail and different company structures like as franchises, family businesses, start-ups and running my own busines. Given all this I just didn’t fit in a recruitment consultants box.
Fortunately, I was introduced to the phenomenal Shelaine Green. Over coffee, I was shocked to hear that the island had no protection laws on the grounds of disability, race, age and religion. There is limited protection for sex, marital status, pregnancy and maternity status, gender reassignment in employment (not in goods and services, accommodation, education). Having introduced age discrimination legislation in a bank in London many years before and spent ten plus years in equality analytics, I felt this was my calling.
I founded Access for All five years ago and along with an amazing team of volunteers we have trained more than 45 Access Auditors using a specialist UK firm CAE. Not long after we founded Equality Guernsey to raise awareness across all grounds of protection (not characteristics) and strengthen the understanding of Human Rights locally.
SO WHY ALL THIS BACKGROUND?
If funding allows, I plan to spend the next few years focusing on supporting organisations through the discrimination legislation phases. The first milestone being late 2022. I understand the fear around introducing new legislation, and have the experience of breaking that down into manageable projects. I have spent the last five years researching, providing data and writing papers on equality law, challenging the many myths that still exist and have more than 10 years HR experience and as a qualified trainer.
WHAT ARE THE TRAINING GAP ANALYSIS PHASES?
What is the current offering around Human Rights, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
as well the Discrimination Legislation proposals themselves?
What do organisations want in the way of signposting, information and training?
How will we consider who fills the gaps and how will it be funded?
IS IT GOING TO HAPPEN?
In July 2020 the States of Deliberation unanimously approved the proposals for anti-discrimination legislation. This was a momentous occasion as we had been waiting more than 50 years for protection from discrimination for race.
In March 2021 the new Government Work Plan included the anti-discrimination legislation in its priorities and there will be further debate in July.
With the backing of the business groups we feel confident that the project will assist organisations to prepare and make any necessary changes. We are especially keen to support smaller businesses and the third sector through the transition.
SO WHAT’S NEXT?
The first stage of the training audit is nearly complete.
In March, the States Disability Officer ran a training survey asking all organisations what they desired in the way of training topics, delivery and timing. This will be followed-up with Chamber of Commerce and other business, third sector focus groups.
The results from the survey and focus groups will inform the development of a training and awareness raising programme.
It is expected that the topics will include:
• Discrimination legislation including projected grounds, definitions of disability and carer status, key requirements, differences between Guernsey to the Jersey and UK legislation
• Types of discrimination, prohibited conduct, legal lawful treatment, objective justification, awards and remedies and exceptions
• Responsibilities of employers and service providers: including recruitment, induction, performance and attendance management
• Reasonable adjustments and accessibility
Our brand, Access for All, has just been awarded a grant to design new materials, videos and case studies. These will guide organisations through many of the topics around accessibility. Although reasonable adjustments will need to be made for staff from late 2022, changes to physical features will not come into effect until 2027.
See www.matter.gg for info.
HOW CAN YOU START TO PREPARE?
Watch out for courses through Chamber and other business group networks. These include law firms, HR consultancies, The Institute, plus our own third sector workshops
Check out the Employment Guide and sign-up to the Employers Disability Charter with Guernsey Employment Trust www.get.org.gg
Sign up for the next Access Audit training (October/November)
Contact Equality Guernsey for a tailored Equality, Diversity and Inclusion session
Read our discrimination legislation resource webpage on www.gda.org.gg which brings together all the research, proposals, consultation and many other resources
Phase 1 is due to be enacted late 2022; physical changes 2027