Plans to merge gender, race and disabilities commissions

A
new equalities watchdog is being planned as part of the largest equal
opportunities shake-up in 25 years.

Under
plans proposed by Barbara Roche, minister for women, the gender, race and
disabilities commissions would be combined.

But
certain groups are worried they will be sidelined because of the merger and
that the creation of a ‘super-commission’ will create an increase of red-tape.
Roche said combining the commissions would increase effectiveness.

The
Cabinet Office is to conduct a six-month study and publish detailed plans in
the autumn.

Dianah
Worman, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s Diversity
Adviser invited a change:

“We
welcome these proposals and have been campaigning for this approach for nearly
a decade. A one-stop shop would clarify the current confused picture, be more
efficient and avoid some of the duplication that occurs under the existing
system.“

The
CIPD believes that such an umbrella body would be welcomed by employers who are
looking for unbiased and credible advice and would help them respond to the
diversity challenge. 

“We
need to promote a coherent approach to diversity issues and break down the
artificial barriers which are produced by the remits of the individual
commissions. The focus should be on encouraging diversity and on celebrating
differences, and a single body could deliver and campaign on this message,” Worman
said.

“At
the moment the business case for having a diverse workforce is often lost in
the efforts to police standards.  We
believe the legal provisions and management of high profile discrimination
cases should fall under the remit of another body, albeit one which is
associated with the work of the umbrella organisation."

By Quentin Reade

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