Equality and Diversity

Our legal duty

As a public body we have a legal duty to comply with all legislation on equality and diversity.  These pages give you access to our published equalities information. 

Here you will find information and links to various documents and reports that tell you about what we have been doing to comply with the general equality duty to eliminate unfair discrimination, harassment and victimisation, advance equality of opportunity, and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

As an employer we aim to provide a safe and harmonious working environment where people are treated, and treat each other, with dignity and respect.  As a public service provider we aim to ensure that our services are accessible to all, and particularly the most vulnerable members of our community.  We do this not just because we have a legal duty, but also because we have a moral duty – and it makes good business sense.

Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) is committed to the elimination of prejudice and discrimination and strives to embed equality, diversity and inclusion in everything it does for the benefit of its staff and the public that it serves.  Our equality objectives help us to work towards achieving this.

What do we mean by “equality”, “diversity” and “inclusion”?

The terms “equality”, “diversity” and “inclusion” are closely linked and are often used interchangeably but they are not the same – however they do need to be progressed together.

Equality means creating a fairer society where everyone can participate and has the opportunity to fulfil their potential.  In reality this means that complying with the duty may involve treating some people differently than others, as far as this is allowed by discrimination law.  In other words not all policies can be expected to benefit all groups equally, particularly if they are targeted at addressing particular problems affecting one protected group.

Equality is backed by legislation (Equality Act 2010) which places a positive duty on us to advance equality of opportunity and to foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.  This is everyone’s responsibility.

There are nine protected characteristics:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion and belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Diversity means difference.  Although people have many things in common with each other they are also different in all sorts of ways.  A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach does not achieve equality of opportunity for everyone because one individual may have different needs to another individual to enable them to achieve the same outcomes.  For example we may choose to give additional learning support to firefighters with dyslexia to ensure that they can meet test requirements in preparation for promotional assessment.

Diversity encompasses a whole range of things and extends much further than just the protected characteristics.  It includes things such as political beliefs, social and economic status, education, state of health, and much, much more.  Some differences may be more visible than others, for example age, gender, certain races and disabilities.  Other differences can be less visible (or completely invisible) for example a person’s sexual orientation, marital status, religion or belief, background, cultural identity or ethnicity.

Inclusion in the workplace (and in wider society) means treating people as individuals and placing positive value on the diversity they bring.  It involves challenging discrimination and removing barriers that they face so that they feel valued and included.

Equality will only exist when we recognise and value diversity, and work together for inclusion.