10 years after the Equality Act with Simon Anjoyeb

We asked our members what they feel has changed in the 10 years since the Equality Act? What impact has it had? Thank you to everyone for their contributions. First we are hearing from Simon Anjoyeb, Deputy Head of Inclusion at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, with his reflections and top tips for progressing your inclusion agenda. 

If a week in politics is a long time, has a decade with the Equality Act 2010 been long enough to build sustainable changes? In many cases, yes, but it really depends on what you are looking at.

One thing I can easily confirm, the last decade has been a period of tremendous change both in the workplace and society. When I first started my journey in inclusion, we were governed by previous legislation and the ‘strands’ of equality. I personally found those pieces of legislation a bit difficult and somewhat ‘clunky’. Perhaps this was my naivety?

When the Equality Act 2010 was announced, I breathed a sigh of relief. Having one piece of legislation directing my agenda would simplify and make things more consistent across the board. On the whole, it did. However, new and untested legislation brings its own set of challenges.

Workplace conversations have really moved forward over the last decade, there is a greater sense of working as a team to deliver a shared goal and ambition. Managers are taking more time to understand individual needs and ask for help when they need it.

Social media has helped to impact our society by giving a platform to those who previously struggled to be heard. You may not agree with everything that has been said, but listening to other viewpoints helps to keep you out of an echo chamber.

Recent events in the UK and worldwide acted as a driver for change by shining a spotlight on inequalities, for example, the Black Lives Matter movement or COVID-19. A spotlight was shone by those most impacted by the inequalities – in some cases they drove the change, in other cases they were picked up by those with a voice and amplified.

Working in inclusion is one of the most rewarding roles I have worked in, but society is continuously evolving, and so should your learning.

Some things I have learnt, which helps to keep the inclusion agenda moving:

  • A project or an initiative should solve a problem or answer a question. Make sure you are solving the right problem or question by speaking to as many people who would be impacted by what you are planning.
  • Clear communication and managing expectations are crucial to everything you do. People tend to fear the unknown, dislike doing something they do not fully understand, and one of the worst things you can do is over promise and under deliver!
  • Be prepared to be an agent for change – inclusion doesn’t stand still for long, so adjust your plans and initiatives accordingly.
  • Incremental changes are a good way to keep the agenda moving forward, especially when resources and time are tight.
  • Last of all – if something is not working or not quite right, don’t be afraid to say so – but be prepared to have ideas on how to improve things.