In order to prepare a scheme identifying gender equality objectives, and setting out the actions it intends to carry out to achieve them, each public authority will have to develop an understanding of the major gender equality issues in its functions. This should be based on a good evidence base and developed through consultation with stakeholders, and the specific duties set out these elements of the process as a legal requirement. Public authorities are then required to commit to a set of priority objectives, selected according to the principles of proportionality and relevance. Public authorities have discretion to decide those priorities themselves, but the priorities which they select should reflect the evidence. The general duty requires public authorities to focus on the issues within their remit which have the greatest importance and impact on gender equality.
The scheme should be published in a readily accessible format, for example, in a clearly signposted part of the public authority's website. It can be published as part of another published document or within a number of other published documents, for example within the business plan of a public authority or within a general equality scheme. Public authorities will have to ensure, however, that the individual elements of the scheme are easily identifiable, in order to show evidence of meeting the gender duty. This is also recommended in order to assure accountability to stakeholders.
What should be in a gender equality scheme and action plan?
The gender equality scheme is legally required to contain the public authority's overall objectives for meeting the duty (see paragraphs 3.34–3.39) including any pay objectives (paragraphs 3.40–3.52). To demonstrate that the public authority is meeting the duty in full, it is recommended that the scheme should also contain a rationale for the choice of those objectives, based on:
an overview of the remit and functions of the authority, including functions carried out through partnership and procurement
the major findings of the information-gathering exercise
the major findings of the consultation exercise.
Schemes are legally required to contain information on how the public authority will take action to:
collect information (paras 3.12–3.23)
use this information, and any other relevant information, to meet the general and specific duties
use the information to review the effectiveness of its implementation of the duty and to prepare subsequent schemes (paras 3.22–3.23)
assess the impact on gender equality of its existing and new policies and practices (paras 3.57–3.74)
consult relevant employees, service users and others (including trade unions) (paras 3.24–3.33)
achieve fulfilment of the objectives (paras 3.75–3.78)