Hampshire Archives and Local Studies

Equalities Policy

1. General

1.1 As a department of Hampshire County Council, Hampshire Record Office is committed to the County Council's Corporate Equalities Strategy and recognises the County Council's obligations to promote equality of opportunities under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Sex Discrimination Act Amendment 1999 Gender Reassignment, the Race Relations Act 1976, the Equal Pay Act 1970, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Human Rights Act, 1998, the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 together with related legislation. This document considers the implications of these policies for Hampshire Record Office (HRO) in relation to staff, customers and potential customers and the archive-holdings.

1.2 No discrimination, direct or indirect, by a member of staff against others (whether they be members of staff, customers or other visitors) on the grounds of gender, race, colour, nationality, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation, or for any other reason, will be tolerated. Support will be given to any member of staff or other person against whom discrimination or victimisation has been shown.

2. Employment

2.1 Equality of opportunity is a central part of staff recruitment and promotion and in accordance with County Council policy, applications are welcomed from all sectors of the community. All job descriptions and person specifications will indicate that Hampshire County Council is an equal opportunities employer. All candidates with a disability meeting the minimum requirements for the post will be interviewed. Staff may work flexible hours provided that the public service can be maintained.

2.2 The Record Office has a designated Equalities Officer for HRO and is represented on the departmental Equalities Group. The department is represented on the corporate Equalities and Diversity Action Group (EDAG). The Corporate Equality and Diversity Adviser provides regularly updated information about corporate policies, the legal framework and access for all. Best practice on equalities is available online.

2.3 Many posts in the Record Office could be performed by those with a disability; however some jobs could not easily be undertaken - for example wheelchair-users could not get out and put away documents in the strongrooms. However if a candidate with a disability applies for a job at Hampshire Record Office, efforts will be made to adapt the work-place, and where necessary the duties of the post, to make it possible for them to work here.

2.4 Similarly, if anyone already on the staff should become disabled, or for other reasons have difficulties in carrying out some parts of their work, either in the short-term or in the long-term, efforts will be made to enable them to continue to play a full part in the life and work of the office. Risk assessments will be drawn up to meet the needs of particular staff, for example pregnant women, and adapt their duties to minimise risk or discomfort.

2.5 The induction process provided for all new staff will include sessions on equalities issues (to include disability awareness) and the procedures to be followed in the event of becoming a victim of discrimination, either directly or indirectly. Line managers will be responsible for taking action in the first instance when a discriminatory incident between staff is reported. The normal complaints procedure will be followed for any complaints received from non-employees. The performance review process will include the opportunity for discussion of equalities issues which may be relevant to the individual.

3. Customer services

3.1 One of the key functions of HRO is to provide and promote access to all, regardless of ability, age, geographical location, gender etc. HRO seeks not to discriminate against any member of the community and to eliminate unconscious discrimination. HRO policy documents, including the Customer Services Policy and the Outreach Policy, and HRO publications and guidelines, including those for the Education Service, specify how it is intended that this will be achieved.

3.2 HRO policy is to consult its customers on service-delivery and to encourage comments, suggestions and complaints. This will continue through the established Customer Liaison Group (comprising family, local and academic historians), which meets twice-yearly, through feedback from individual and group visits to the office and from staff outreach activities, through occasional questionnaires and surveys and by following up all comments and complaints received, through the formal complaints procedure. These systems will continue and will be monitored for effectiveness in equalities issues and improved as required.

3.3 Within the overall spending priorities of HRO, all practicable adaptations to the Record Office and its facilities will be made to meet the needs of all our customers. The Record Office was designed with the needs of disabled customers in mind but further improvements remain desirable. Where this is not possible alternative arrangements can usually be made. Existing services (eg hearing loops at reception, at the search room help desks, and in the cinema, the large magnification CCTV, arrangements for the use of textphone facilities for the deaf and hard of hearing and responding to requests for leaflets on disk) will be publicised and advertised as appropriate.

3.4 Information about HRO services will be made available in a variety of ways. These will include the use of a clear typeface for all leaflets and exhibition labels, the provision of large print or audio copies as appropriate, and an increase of the amount of information available electronically and on the web-site. In addition, HRO will make some of its most popular documents available in copy form in libraries, museums, Discovery Centres and other appropriate venues. Education Resources Packs will include transcripts of documents which may otherwise be inaccessible to school children. On request, leaflets can be translated into other languages and into braille. A discreet service for those with reading difficulties who need to consult our records will be provided.

3.5 HRO is committed to providing a service which extends beyond standard office opening hours in order to meet the needs of as many people as possible, whatever their pattern of commitments. At present HRO opens five evenings a week until 7 pm and all day on Saturdays. Technological developments now enable remote access to sources and to finding-aids and efforts will be made to develop this facility within budgetary considerations.

4. The wider public

4.1 HRO is one of the busiest county record offices in the country. There is also a wider body of interested supporters who do not personally use our facilities. But there are many more whose lives could be enriched by archives and who either do not know of the service or think it irrelevant to their needs and interests. In particular, ethnic minorities are very poorly represented among Record Office users, largely because HRO holdings are perceived as relating primarily to traditional English groups. The CALM 2000 computerised cataloguing and indexing systems should make HRO's records more widely available both in the search room and on the internet. In addition it will be a policy of the office that whenever material relating to minority groups is found it will be specifically described in finding aids and its availability publicised.

4.2 Efforts will be made to ensure that records of communities throughout the county and reflecting all aspects of life in Hampshire are deposited in HRO. In particular those groups which are currently under-represented will be encouraged to place in the Record Office the records of the communities to which they belong alongside the very wide range of other groups whose records are held. This will ensure that the records left for the future cover all aspects of Hampshire life today.

June 1999, revised July 2000; reviewed July 2001 but no changes introduced; reviewed February 2004 and September 2004.