Equality and diversity procedure

How to apply our equality and diversity policy

Approved: 1 June 2023

This procedure explains what you need to do to apply our equality and diversity policy

This procedure is for volunteers. Girlguiding employees should use the staff procedure on the intranet. Country and region, and county staff should check with their line managers.

What do we need from our adult volunteers?   

All our volunteers and adult members need to follow our code of conduct and our promise. And everyone in Girlguiding should live by our values.

You should provide a warm, friendly and inclusive environment for everyone you meet at Girlguiding. This means making all young members and volunteers feel welcome and free to be themselves.  

Recognising differences and making changes and adjustments so Girlguiding is a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone is an important part of our equality and diversity policy. This is called equity. You won’t always know that someone could benefit from being treated differently. But you can create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their needs with you when the time is right for them.  

To make Girlguiding a more inclusive space, you should be open to learning, researching, listening and reflecting, even if you already feel well-informed. Remember that we all have different lived experiences and perspectives. Some information we come across may challenge our existing views, but it’s our responsibility to learn and grow, so we can have open and honest conversations.

It’s also your responsibility to report any inappropriate behaviour which may breach our policy. We’re here to support volunteers, adult members and parents or carers to raise concerns and challenge discrimination, whatever form it takes.  

You can find out more about promoting equality and diversity below, and through our e-learnings and webinars on the learning platform.

How can I promote equality and diversity? 

We want Girlguiding to be a place where everyone is welcome and free to be themselves. It's our responsibility to make sure all volunteers, members and staff feel supported and included, so everyone has the chance to do amazing things, whoever they are and wherever they’re from.  

Sometimes you may need to treat people differently by considering what they need as an individual so they can have the same opportunities as others. This is known as ‘equity’ and is a way of achieving equality. The image below demonstrates the difference between equality (on the left) and equity (on the right).

If you’re not sure what someone’s needs are, or what barriers they might be facing, it’s always better to ask instead of assuming. Some examples of treating people differently to promote equity include:

  • Making adjustments for a disabled young member so they can fully take part in an activity. Our adjustment plans are a great starting point for a conversation with both young members and volunteers. You can also adapt games and activities to include all members in your unit.
  • Making sure the cost of uniform is not a barrier. Some units have created a ‘uniform bank’ so that young members can borrow or buy cheaper second-hand uniform. You could ask parents and carers to donate old uniform, or even look into local grants to buy a selection of uniform.
  • Agreeing flexible hours in an adjustment plan or wellbeing action plan with an adult volunteer who has a mental health condition and may not be able to attend every week. Wellbeing plans are a practical way to help you support the mental health of our young members and volunteers.
  • Recognising that some young members may behave in ways that are challenging for lots of reasons, like finding it difficult to communicate their needs. Simple changes, like using our visual timetable, communication passport and accessible resources can help members who may need extra support.  
  • Being flexible about arrival and leaving times for young and adult carers
  • Providing alternative options for activities involving food for people with dietary requirements
  • Considering all faiths, practices and celebrations when you’re planning activities and trips. And making changes so no one is excluded because of their religious background. For example, you could offer a space for prayer or meditation on a residential. 
  • Using our guidance on supporting trans members to help you provide support in units and when doing activities.
  • Applying for the accessible guiding grant, which can be used to support young members and volunteers with additional needs to access all areas of the programme, from unit meetings to international trips. Applications are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Being inclusive is something that can take time and practice. You can find guidance on making sure all members feel involved on our including all webpages, and resources to support you to explore equality and diversity on our what you can do to help webpage.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to inclusion. If you have any questions about including all young members and volunteers, email [email protected].

What happens if this policy is breached?

We don’t expect our volunteers to be experts on different types of discrimination. And we know you might not always be certain if someone’s behaviour has breached this policy.  

If you’ve witnessed or experienced any discrimination, or have any concerns about a young member or volunteer, and can’t resolve the issue locally you must email our HQ safe practice team on [email protected]. You could also do this on someone’s behalf, if you have written consent from them to do so. Our safe practice team will give you advice on the best way forward. This may include providing support so that an informal resolution can be reached. If this isn’t appropriate, a formal investigation may be needed. 

If you’ve reported an incident that you witnessed, but weren’t involved in, we might need to get consent from the person experiencing the behaviour before we can look into it. 

No incident is too minor to report to our safe practice team. Even something that seems small can have a negative impact on the people involved. We’ll support anyone who raises a concern, and anyone who promotes equality or challenges discrimination won’t be treated negatively. 

We take every breach of our equality and diversity policy seriously, particularly as some breaches may break the law. We’re guided by our managing concerns about adult volunteers policy and procedure, complaints policy and procedure and anti-bullying and harassment policy and procedure.  

If a staff member’s behaviour breaches our equality and diversity policy, we’ll take this seriously and will manage this using our staff procedures.  

The most important thing is to never ignore any inappropriate behaviour. If you notice inappropriate behaviour from anyone involved with Girlguiding, you have a responsibility to act. This is the case no matter what policy they may be breaching.