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Departmental Equal Opportunities

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 15 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what her Department's definition is of equality of opportunity in relation to her Department's policies; and if she will make an assessment of the impact on equality of opportunity of her Department's policies. (285206)

The Department for Work and Pensions' statement of equality of opportunity is:

“The Department is committed to providing services which embrace diversity and which promote equality of opportunity. As an employer we are also committed to equality and valuing diversity within our workforce. Our goal is to ensure that these commitments, reinforced by our Values, are embedded in our day to day working practices with all our customers, colleagues and partners.”

This means that our internal policies are designed to ensure equality of opportunity for our existing and prospective employees. For example, we carry out all our permanent recruitment exercises under fair and open competition and we monitor the procedures carefully to make sure that they do not unfairly discriminate against anyone. We are a Disability Symbol user and operate the Guaranteed Interview Scheme for disabled candidates. We are a Local Employment Partnership employer.

Our statement of equality of opportunity applies to our policies and to the services we offer. We carry out equality impact assessments on new policies and services and when we make changes to existing ones. This ensures that equality of opportunity is taken into account at the earliest stage of policy and service development and that:

the Department's strategies, policies and services are free from discrimination;

due regard is given to equality (specifically disability, gender and race) in decision making and subsequent processes; and

opportunities for promoting equality are identified.

In order to consider the impact of equality of opportunity on our policies and services and to ensure the Department's diversity and equality work is showing real results and comparing well to comparative work carried by external organisations, we have also participated in external benchmarking exercises. External benchmarking also gives us the opportunity to share best diversity practise with other organisations.

Our approach to equality is set out in a variety of publications, including:

the Department for Work and Pensions: Race, Disability and Gender Equality Schemes 2008-2011

the Department for Work and Pensions: Secretary of State Report on Disability Equality


the Department for Work and Pensions: Race, Disability and Gender Equality Schemes Annual Progress Report 2008-2011 2Dequalitv/dwp%2Dequality%2Dschemes/equalitv% 2Dschemes%2D2008%2D2011/progress%2Dreports% 2D2009/