• Introduction
  • Purpose
  • Scope of Policy
  • Responsibility
  • Equality & Diversity Considerations
  • Information Sources and Reference Documents
  • Appendix: Definitions and Terms
  • Age
  • Race
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Marriage and Civil Partnership
  • Pregnancy and Maternity
  • Gender Reassignment
  • Religion & non-religion
  • Disability
  • Equality & Diversity Statement
  • Introduction

    1. ASH Co-op is based in Cambridge and is proud to be part of one of the most diverse parts of the city and we are committed to the principles of equality, fairness and respect.
    2. ASH Co-op is committed to playing an active role in promoting equality and challenging discrimination. We will work with partners, where necessary, to ensure people are treated fairly and equally. We will seek to promote an atmosphere of tolerance and respect in our workplace and our community.


    1. ASH Co-op believes that everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. With reference to the Equality Act 2010, ASH Co-op seeks to oppose all forms of discrimination and unfair treatment related to the nine protected characteristics;
      • Age
      • Race
      • Sex
      • Sexual Orientation
      • Marriage and Civil Partnership
      • Pregnancy and Maternity
      • Gender Reassignment
      • Religion & non-religion
      • Disability
      See also the appendix
    2. ASH Co-op will ensure that it meets its obligations under the Equality Act 2010 and we will take a proactive role to advance equality of opportunity for all. We will comply with Equality Codes of Practice issued by the Equality and Human Rights Commission; including the Code of Practice on Equal Pay and the Code of Practice on Employment and the Code of Practice on Services, Public Functions and Association. We will comply with the regulatory framework for social housing providers.

    Scope of Policy

    1. The Equality and Diversity Policy covers all aspects of ASH Co-ops roles as a employer, service provider and community leader.
    2. ASH Co-op will promote each of these roles in the following ways;

      As an employer:

      • Embedding equality and diversity across all areas of our organisation.
      • Providing a safe and accessible work environment, where all employees are treated with dignity and respect.
      • Adopting a zero tolerance approach to all forms of harassment and bullying, including racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic incidents.
      • Ensuring that all ASH Co-op staff, Committee and members who act as representatives attend Equality and Diversity
      • Training and that training is delivered in an appropriate manner to their role.
      • Monitoring and reporting on our recruitment practices to ensure that they are fair and accessible to everyone.
      • Promoting opportunities for employment, training and development to members, committee and employed staff. By doing so ASH Co-op seeks to create a workforce that reflects our diverse community.
      • Monitoring employees satisfaction with ASH Co-op by protected groups and taking action to address any concerns

      As a service provider:

      • Analysing the impact of equality of our policies and procedures and in the services we provide.
      • Ensuring that services, offices, facilities and the Hut are, where possible, accessible for all.
      • Promoting our commitment to equality and diversity through our website and other communications.
      • Communicating with our members in a way that is clear, accessible and easy to read & understand.
      • Regularly monitoring and reviewing our performance in access to membership, repairs, complaints and other services provided to our members.
      • Ensuring our procurement and tendering processes are fair and accessible and that we support local businesses and social enterprises.

      As a local stakeholder and community leader:

      • Working with Cambridge City Council, Cambridgeshire Police Service, Social Services, Mental Health Services and other partner agencies to prevent and respond to incidents of Anti-Social Behaviour, hate crime and domestic abuse; and to promote good relations between all people in our local community.
      • Supporting victims of crime and abuse in a way that is sensitive and appropriate to their individual needs.
      • Working with local statutory, voluntary, and community groups to promote equality and support vulnerable people (amongst others, but not exclusively Victim Support, MIND, MENCAP, AGE UK, Centre 33, Encompass Network and MENTER)
      • Ensuring Good Governance of ASH Co-op.
      • Sharing best practice with other Co-ops and social housing organisations to continually improve our approach Communicating with our members and local community about the actions we take to promote equality and challenge discrimination.


    1. This policy relates to members, employed staff, applicants, contractors, consultants, visitors and people living in the local community.
    2. ASH Co-op’s Equality and Diversity and Welfare Co-ordinators shall have overall responsibility for the management and implementation of this policy. All other co-ordinators, members and employed staff shall support them where appropriate and shall seek to be responsible for equality issues.
    3. The General Meeting are responsible for ensuring the committee meet their responsibilities laid out below.
    4. The committee are responsible for ensuring that services are delivered in accordance with this policy and that contractors are treated with dignity and respect. They are also responsible for ensuring all appropriate training and support is given to employed staff, committee and members to enable the delivery of this policies aims.
    5. All Co-ordinators are directly responsible for ensuring that ASH Co-op employees are treated with dignity and respect in the workplace. This includes when working with contractors, consultants, colleagues, members and other members of the public.
    6. While the Equality and Diversity Co-ordinator(s) will take a leading role, ASH Co-op believes it is everyone’s responsibility to promote equality and help tackle discrimination in the workplace and local community.
    7. Every member, employed staff and representative will be responsible for their own behaviour in accordance with this policy. They should also be actively involved in challenging inappropriate behaviour.

    Equality & Diversity Considerations

    1. This policy is currently available in Braille & Large Print, we are happy to produce it in other formats, such as languages other than English or in audio format, when requested.

    Information Sources and Reference Documents

    1. This policy supports and is directly related to other policies within ASH Co-op, these are;

    Appendix: Definitions and Terms

    Protected Characteristics


    1. Age is defined in the Equality Act by reference to a person’s age group. An Age Group can mean people of the same age or people of a range of ages. Age groups can be wide, narrow or relative. For example, people under 18, people over 40, people older than us, etc.


    1. A person is considered as having a disability if they have “a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.”
    2. A physical or mental impairment includes sensory impairments such as those affecting sight or hearing. Long-term means that the impairment has lasted/is likely to last for at least 12 months or for the rest of the affected persons life.

    Gender Re-Assignment

    1. People who are proposing to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone a process (or part of a process) to reassign their sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex, have the protected characteristic of gender reassignment.
    2. The Equality Act says that a person should have at least proposed to undergo gender reassignment. People who start their gender reassignment process but then decide to stop still have the protected characteristic of gender reassignment.
    3. A transsexual person is someone who has the protected status of gender reassignment.

    Marriage and Civil Partnership

    1. Under the Equality Act marriage covers any formal union between two people that is legally recognised in the UK as a marriage.
    2. A civil partnership refers to a registered civil partnership between two people under the Civil Partnership Act 2004, including those registered outside the UK.
    3. Only people who are married or are in a civil partnership are protected against discrimination on this ground. The status of being unmarried or single is not.

    Pregnancy and Maternity

    1. Pregnancy is the condition of being pregnant or expecting a baby. Maternity refers to the period after the birth and is linked to maternity leave in the employment context.
    2. Outside of the employment setting, protection against maternity discrimination is for 26 weeks after giving birth. This includes treating a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding.


    1. The Equality Act defines ‘race’ as including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins.
    2. A person has the protected characteristic of race if they fall into a particular racial group. A racial group is a group of people who have or share a colour, nationality or ethnic or national origins. For example, a racial group could be ‘British people’. A racial group can also be made up of two or more distinct racial groups for example ‘Black British’ (people who are black and British citizens) or ‘South Asian (people who are from India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc.)
    3. Nationality or citizenship is the specific legal relationship between a person and a state through birth or naturalisation. It is distinct from national origins.
    4. National origins must have identifiable elements, both historic and geographic, which at least at some point in time indicate the existence or previous existence of a nation. For example, England and Scotland were once separate nations, the English and the Scots have separate national origins.
    5. Everyone has an ethnic origin but the provisions of the Equality Act only apply where a person belongs to an ethnic group as defined by the courts. The courts have confirmed that the following are protected ethnic groups: Sikhs, Jews, Romany Gypsies, Irish Travellers, Scottish Gypsies and Scottish Travellers.

    Religion or Belief

    1. Under the Equality Act a belief means any religious or philosophical belief or lack of belief. Examples of philosophical belief include Humanism and Atheism.
    2. While people have an absolute right to hold a particular religion or belief under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, manifestation of that religion or belief is a qualified right which may in certain circumstances be limited. For example it may need to be balanced against other rights such as the right to respect for private and family life or the right to freedom of expression.


    1. Under the Equality Act sex refers to a man or woman, men or women. Both men and women are protected under the Act.

    Sexual Orientation

    1. Under the Equality Act this refers to a person’s sexual orientation towards:
      • Persons of the same sex;
      • Persons of the opposite sex;
      • Person of either sex.
    2. Sexual orientation discrimination includes discrimination because a person is of a particular sexual orientation, as well as manifestations of that sexual orientation. This may includes someone’s appearances, the places they visit or the people they associate with.

    Discrimination or Harassment

    Direct Discrimination

    1. This is where a person is treated less favourably than another person because of a protected characteristic*.
    2. Examples of Direct Discrimination:
      • Male employees at ASH get paid more than female employees doing the same job.
      • A gay employee is ignored for promotion for their sexual orientation.
    3. *A different approach applies to the protected characteristics or age, because some age-based rules are seen as justifiable. Less favourable treatment of a person because of their age is not direct discrimination if it can be shown that the treatment is a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.

    Indirect Discrimination

    1. This occurs when there are rules, regulations or procedures in place that have a discriminatory effect on certain groups of people. This is a less obvious form of discrimination than direct discrimination.
    2. Examples of Indirect Discrimination:
      • Requiring employees to be at least 6 feet tall – this would disproportionately disadvantage women.
      • Uniform requirements stating that employees may not wear any headwear – this would disproportionately discriminate against Sikh men, Muslim women, etc.

    Associative Discrimination

    1. This is direct discrimination against someone because they associate with another person(s) who has a protected characteristic.
    2. Examples of Associative Discrimination:
      • A member is not offered a flat because they are the parent of a disabled child.
      • A person is discriminated at ASH Co-op or at a training college because the have a relative or child who is gay.

    Discrimination by Perception

    1. Perceptive discrimination means direct discrimination against someone because they are thought to possess a particular protected characteristic. It applies even if the person does not actually possess that characteristic.
    2. Examples of Discrimination by Perception:
      • Someone is refused accommodation at ASH because they are perceived to be homosexual, even though they are actually heterosexual.
      • A housing applicant is rejected because the Allocations Co-ordinator assumes the candidate is black because they have an African name.

    Positive Action

    1. The Equality Act allows employers to take positive action measures to improve equality for people who share a protected characteristic.
    2. For example,
      • an Employment or Allocations Co-ordinator might decide to take positive action if they find that the makeup of the membership or staff is different from the makeup of the local population. They decide to encourage people who share particular under-represented protected characteristics to apply for vacancies.
    3. Note: There is no requirement to take positive action and there are no restrictions on treating disabled people more favourably than non-disabled people. It is also permitted to take steps to meet the needs of people with a particular disability.

    Bullying & Harassment

    1. Harassment is defined as unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic. It has the purpose or effect of violating an individuals dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.
    2. Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour or an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.
    3. Bullying or harassment may occur between two individuals or it may involve groups of people. It may not necessarily be face to face, it can also occur through e-mail, text, telephone or over the internet. Whatever form it takes, it is unwarranted and unwelcome by the individual.
    4. Examples of Bullying or Harassing Behaviour:
      • Spreading malicious rumours, or insulting someone by word or behaviour (particularly on the grounds of a protected characteristic).
      • Making inappropriate jokes or using offensive language.
      • Putting up offensive posters, graffiti, flags, bunting or emblems.
      • Deliberately excluding or isolating people.
      • Setting impossible or unachievable targets/deadlines.


    1. This occurs when a member is treated badly because they have made or supported a complaint or raised a grievance relating to discrimination or because they are suspected of doing so.
    2. For example:
      • A female member raises a grievance against a co-ordinator as she feels he has discriminated against her because she is married. Even though the complaint is resolved through the complaints procedure the member is subsequently excluded by other members, including the committee, for making the claim.
    3. Note: Protection against victimisation is lost if the member has made a malicious or untrue complaint

    Equality and Diversity Statement

    Our Commitment

    1. We believe that anyone should be treated fairly regardless of their gender, sexuality, race, religion, disability, ethnic or national origin, age, marital status, medical condition or appearance.
    2. Our membership and staff expect a high standard from all those employed by us. It is the responsibility of everyone who represents ASH Co-op including employed staff, committee members and contractors to uphold the Equality and Diversity Policy.
    3. It is the responsibility of the committee to ensure that its membership reflects the wider community.
    4. Action will be taken against anyone responsible for discrimination or harassment whilst working on our behalf, living in our property or visiting our property.

    Housing & Services

    1. ASH Co-op is committed to a fair and open housing policy. This means we will offer housing to those in genuine housing need. The Co-op is responsible for ensuring open access to our housing shortlist. This is clearly laid out in our Allocations Policy.
    2. We will monitor our applications and report back to the membership at the AGM.
    3. ASH Co-op is committed to allowing current members to choose whom they live with. It is down to each individual house as to who is interviewed and who is allocated the room. The current household may have specific requirements or seek to pursue positive discrimination as laid out in our policy. ASH Co-op will still investigate any allegations of discrimination and take appropriate action where necessary.
    4. All residents should be able to live in their homes free from harassment, intimidation and nuisance. We will take action against residents who cause trouble, harassment or distress to their neighbours and will support those members who are victims of harassment.
    5. If English is not the first language of a member or they require, Braille or have difficulty reading or writing we will endeavour to contact members in ways that enable them to actively participate. This could include translation, recordings or Braille.

    Development & Property Management

    1. We expect all our contractors working for ASH Co-op to adhere to our commitment to equality and diversity by following our Equality and Diversity Policy. We will not hesitate to take action against contractors, consultants and agencies who breach this policy.
    2. All new and current contractors will get copies of the Equality and Diversity Policy as well as this statement.

    Employment & Training

    1. We aim to have a workforce which reflects the community in which we live. We have an open recruitment & selection policies, processes and procedures. Equality of opportunity means that people are employed on merit and ability. All employment policies and procedures are regularly reviewed to ensure that they are equally and fairly applied and that our requirements do not unfairly prevent people from applying for jobs.
    2. We encourage and support members and employees to reach their full potential through a large training budget. We actively encourage members and employees to seek training opportunities for them and others within ASH Co-op. We provide annual Equal Opportunities training for members and staff.


    1. ASH Co-op will review this statement and supplementary policy on an annual basis and when legislation demands.
    2. If you think we have breached our equal opportunities policy and/or think we may improve it please contact our registered office (3 Fletcher’s Terrace, Cambridge