Promoting equality in PCS

Promoting equality and tackling discrimination is one of the founding principles of PCS and a challenge that needs to be addressed at every level of the union.


There is a need, not just to identify equality issues on the bargaining and campaigning agendas, but also to ensure that under-represented groups have a voice in PCS and that structures are in place and representatives are trained and resourced to ensure that the agenda is being taken forward at every level.

The national executive committee (NEC) believes that PCS branches, groups, regions and national bodies of the union all need to play a part by regularly reviewing their progress on promoting equality and by developing their own action plans, in consultation with members, for taking forward the bargaining, campaigning and organising agenda for equality in each area.

PCS Charter for Equality

Our Charter For Equality reflects the union’s principal rules on equal opportunities. This sets out our aims for achieving equality of opportunity for PCS members and reflects the recommendations of the TUC’s Stephen Lawrence Task Group.

  • PCS is committed to the promotion of equality for all our members.
  • We recognise that within our workplaces and within society, there are many people who experience discrimination and inequality on the grounds of sex, race, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, colour, class, caring responsibilities, marital status, sexuality, gender identity, gender reassignment, disability, age or other reasons based on their status or personal characteristics.
  • This is not acceptable.
  • Our aim is to negotiate workplace policies that are fair to all, and to campaign against all forms of discrimination and inequality.
  • We believe that as a democratic trade union, we must ensure that those who experience inequality have a voice and are able to participate fully in the activities of the union and to take up representative posts.
  • Our aim is to support and encourage under represented groups to become more active in the union and to remove any obstacles to participation.
  • In order to achieve our aims we will work to ensure that the promotion of equality is a priority issue for PCS in bargaining, campaigning and organising, and in the delivery of services to members. 

Key indicators for equality

The key indicators provide a six-point checklist against which PCS decision-making bodies can review the organisation and structures that they have in place to support and progress the equality agenda and equality plans.

  1. Ensuring that under-represented groups are able to participate in union activity
  2. Tackling under-representation on decision-making bodies
  3. Building networks and equality structures
  4. Representing members
  5. Progressing equality issues
  6. Reviewing and reporting on progress.

Developing action plans

The NEC recommends that all of our decision-making bodies and committees should develop an action plan for equality that identifies the priority equality issues around organising, bargaining and campaigning in that area, in consultation with members, particularly those from under-represented groups.

Planning events to take place on key annual dates in the equality calendar is often a good way to generate interest, publicity and participation.  Our equalities calendar sets some of these out. Other examples and suggestions for holding events are on our specific equality group webpages.

Enabling under-represented groups to participate


  • Publications are accessible to all members and available in alternative formats where required such as large print, Braille or on audiotape
  • Publications include regular coverage of equality issues
  • Images, photographs and reports reflect the diversity of PCS membership in positive ways.

Meeting and events

  • Meetings are held in venues that are accessible to members with disabilities
  • Members attending meetings who have needs such as a loop system or signer have those needs met
  • Meetings are held at times when all members can attend including part time workers and shift workers
  • Meetings are held outside of school holidays as far as possible, so that parents have the best chance of being able to attend
  • Childcare and/or assistance with carers’ additional costs is provided and advertised.
  • Disabled members, parents, children and carers are able to join in with union organised social activities
  • Meetings are held in venues that all members would feel comfortable in attending. Pubs and other venues selling alcohol can be off putting to some members
  • Where food is provided consideration is given to dietary requirements. For example, some religions prohibit eating certain types of meat.

Tackling under-representation on decision-making bodies

  • Members and reps are encouraged to update monitoring information held on the PCS membership system
  • Targets are set to ensure that committees and delegations are representative of the profile of the membership
  • Co-option is considered if targets are not met
  • At election time encouragement is given to members of under represented groups to stand for election
  • Information is provided about the timing of elections and requirements of candidates
  • Information is provided about the duties of each post, the time commitment needed the facility time available and the training available
  • Opportunities are provided for mentoring, shadowing, buddying and attending meetings as an observer

Building networks and equality structures

  • Networks for under represented groups are set up to encourage member participation and to reduce workplace isolation
  • Equality committees are put in place to advise decision-making bodies on bargaining, campaigning and organising issues
  • Reports and recommendations from equality committees are given a high priority at meetings
  • Representatives to national equality forums are supported in contributing to national policies and priorities and reporting back
  • All decision-making bodies have appointed an equality officer

Representing members

  • Members know who to approach if they have a personal case
  • Systems are in place to monitor personal cases
  • Reps have received up to date training on equality issues and discrimination law

Progressing equality issues

  • Equality committees and networks are consulted about issues that concern them
  • An annual equality plan has been drawn up to prioritise and progress bargaining, campaigning and organising issues
  • Negotiators actively consider whether changes proposed to terms and conditions are likely to have an adverse impact on particular groups
  • Equality issues are given a high priority at meetings
  • Members understand how to raise equality issues and concerns through union structures

Reviewing and reporting on progress

  • Progress is reviewed against key indicators and the annual equality plan
  • Progress is reported back to members at regular intervals


In order to take this work forward, the national executive committee recommends that:

Branches, groups, associations, regional and national committees should:

  • Adopt and promote the charter for equality
  • Use the key indicators to identify areas where progress needs to be made on promoting equality
  • Draw up action plans, in consultation with members, to address bargaining, campaigning and organising for equality within their area of responsibility.

And that the national executive committee should support progress on equality and the development of equality action plans by:

  • Issuing guidance on national priorities for equality drawn up in consultation with the national equality forums/committees and seminars
  • Issuing guidance and circulating best practice to inform equality action plans.

Updated 20 July 2017

Share PCS:

Visit PCS social sites: