As part of the Council’s ongoing commitment to equality and diversity, it is recommended that we adopt a specific Trans Equality policy. Members are asked to consider the Trans Equality Policy (attached as Appendix 1) and Practice Notes (attached as Appendix 2).
The Chair introduced the item and highlighted that there was a slightly amended Appendix 2 which had been circulated to the Committee and published on the Council’s website. Dan Paul, Chief People Officer, introduced the report and noted that this was the second time that the Trans Equality Policy had been considered by the Committee, the first time being in December 2019. It was explained that the Council had a strong commitment to improve equality and diversity in the workforce and to create a workforce that was free from bullying, harassment, and discrimination. The Council had committed to being an inclusive employer and undertook Stonewall Workplace Equality Index benchmarking each year; through this, there had been a recurring recommendation to introduce a Trans Equality Policy which was considered best practice across local government.
It was noted that, after consideration by the Committee in 2019, the policy had been amended and a detailed Equalities Impact Assessment (EIA) had been undertaken. The EIA balanced the rights of various protected groups and concluded that the policy would positively impact on protected groups and enhance equality in Haringey. The Chief People Officer explained that the Trans Equality Policy, the practice notes, and the EIA had all been through the detailed policy design and approval process which included consultation with Trade Unions. It was stated that the adoption of the policy was strongly recommended by officers who considered that it would advance equality in the workplace.
Cllr Davies stated that the adoption of a Trans Equality Policy was overdue and that the current proposal was a significant improvement from the version that was presented to the Committee in December 2019. She commented that the operational parts of the policy should be approved, subject to minor amendments. However, Cllr Davies was not satisfied with the list of resources, as policies generally did not include this sort of information and a number of the organisations listed no longer existed, and the glossary, as it contained overly detailed and potentially controversial definitions. She suggested that the Committee should approve the Trans Equality Policy and practice notes, subject to minor amendment, and that officers should investigate whether the list of organisations and glossary needed to be included.
Cllr Say enquired why the Trans Equality Policy was not included within a general equalities policy and noted that she had concerns about some of the wording used in the policy. She stated that the glossary would require regular updates and that some of the organisations in the list of resources no longer existed and some might not be endorsed by the Council. Cllr Say also expressed concerns that the EIA had involved Trade Unions, London Councils Human Resources (HR) Policy Network, and the Legal Team but that it had not involved any women’s groups.
The Chief People Officer noted that there were not policies for each protected group but highlighted that Trans people faced unique challenges which merited protection through this specific policy. It was added that, in the past, there had been specific policies in response to particular issues and that these had been adapted or subsumed into other policies as society changed; it was considered important to have a Trans Equality Policy at this point in time. It was added that consultees felt strongly that the practice notes and glossary were required. It was noted that, in the future, it was likely that parts of the policy could be changed or removed. The Chief People Officer acknowledged that this glossary may require more frequent updates but he was happy to commit to reviewing it more regularly if required. It was added that the staff were very clear about the need for a Trans Equality Policy and that, although the Council did not have a women’s group, the Trade Unions had been consulted and strongly supported the policy. It was also noted that there had been discussions with Trade Unions about the demand for a women’s group and that, if established, this would be supported.
It was enquired whether minor amendments could be made to the Trans Equality Policy. The Chief People Officer explained that the Council had a specific process for policy development; policies were developed by HR with external advice and these were then put out for consultation with Trade Unions and any relevant groups. It was explained that it would not be possible for the Committee to make amendments to the policy which had been widely consulted on as any changes would have to be revisited. The Chief People Officer strongly encouraged the Committee to approve the Trans Equality Policy with the commitment that the practice notes and glossary would be regularly reviewed.
Cllr Dennison supported the introduction of the Trans Equality Policy, practice notes, and glossary but noted that he had some suggestions in relation to the practice notes and enquired whether any of these could be delegated to officers. In relation to the Rights of Trans Staff in section 4.3, it was noted that there were rights to use toilets and changing facilities that aligned with gender identity but it would be useful to add a requirement to provide the relevant facilities. The Chief People Officer explained that there had been specific discussions with the Property and Asset Management Team in relation to changing existing facilities where possible. In addition, there were specific requirements for new facilities to have a lockable private cubicle with a washbasin; it was noted that further detail was included in the EIA.
Cllr Dennison added that, in relation to Documentation in section 4.5, it was acknowledged that there were some limitations relating to the requirements of HMRC but it was enquired whether the Council could amend or remove a person’s title on payslips; it was noted that this could be useful for staff in certain situations, such as mortgage applications. In relation to Roles and Responsibilities in section 5, it was noted that all staff would receive training but it was suggested that undertaking the training should be listed as a responsibility for all staff. It was commented that, throughout the document but mainly under Communication in section 4.6, there were references to staff who were transitioning during their employment and it was enquired whether there could be more detail relating to people who were potentially joining or leaving the organisation; it was suggested that applicants for job interviews could be asked for their title or pronouns.
The Chief People Officer stated that he would investigate whether it was possible to make the suggested changes to payslips and that it may be possible to develop the other points. It was noted that the Committee was recommended to delegate minor changes to the Trans Equality Policy and accompanying documents to the Director for Customers, Transformation, and Resources, after consultation with the Chair of the Committee.
Cllr Davies commented that it was important to ensure that no-one was negatively impacted by the policy. She stated that the organisation would need to put arrangements in place to make sure that those who required single sex spaces were listened to and noted concerns that the Council did not have a women’s network. It was added that there was scope within the proposed policy for staff to receive significant disciplinary action as a result of a mistake, which was potentially unfair, and that it would be important to support staff to undertake training.
Cllr Davies expressed dissatisfaction that the Committee had been presented with a policy but was unable to make any amendments. She noted that more work was required to improve the glossary and list of resources especially regarding the inclusion and definition of intersex, to include women’s groups in the consultation, and to include intersex staff or groups in the consultation. Cllr Davies also noted her surprise that there was no Trans Equality Policy for schools or other workplaces where Council staff were employed and that the Trade Unions had not addressed this. She explained that she supported the policy, subject to rigorous checking, with the caveat that the glossary and list of resources should be referred back to the Committee and that minor amendments were considered.
The Chief People Officer explained that the Council had an agreed process for policy development and it was important to follow this process. It was noted that it was not possible to make substantive changes at this stage but the recommendations proposed that minor amendments to the Trans Equality Policy were delegated to the Director and the Chief People Officer could discuss proposed amendments with members of the Committee; it was highlighted that this only related to minor amendments and not major amendments or deletions. It was added that this had been an emotive issue to consult on, that significant time and resources had been invested into the policy, and that consultees strongly felt that the wording of the policy was important; the Chief People Officer expressed reluctance in making anything other than minor amendments.
The Committee expressed concerns that the Committee was not included in the consultation process for policy development and requested that future policies were circulated to the Committee, formally or informally, before they were presented for final approval. It was also commented that it would be beneficial to clarify the process for suggesting amendments and for any re-consultation.
1. To approve the Trans Equality Policy ready for implementation with effect from 1st March 2021. To note that staff training on the policy would be incorporated into the Council’s wider diversity and inclusion training programme.
2. To authorise the Director for Customers, Transformation & Resources, after consultation with the Chair of the Committee, to make such amendments to the Trans Equality Policy as considered minor.