9 May 2022

PCS Equality Networks

Mal Shazell explains why it’s important that members that identify with one or more protected characteristics join a regional equality member network

PCS regional equality member networks are an initiative for members run by members, their aim is to supply a space for members to discuss problems, propose ideas and solutions and manage a response to employers' awareness (or lack of) protected characteristics. The members that join the networks identify with one or more protected characteristic, such as Black, woman, LGBT+, young and/or disabled.

The PCS regional equality member networks are a much less formal gathering than a branch executive committee (BEC) or the various PCS equality committees and are designed to meet when members want to with whoever is in the network. This could be as simple as someone asking a question “this reasonable adjustment has been declined – does anyone in a similar industry have an example of it being accepted?” this can then allow the member to challenge their employer with confidence.

It is also a forum to discuss topics that affect that protected characteristics, for example a new piece of legislation, how to push back against racism in the workplace or how to manage the civil service being withdrawn from access to work. They allow members of PCS to form a united front against employers. Different civil service departments treat protected characteristics differently but by pooling our knowledge and citing best practice with evidence it will be possible to bring departments and employers up to a higher level of recognition, rather than doing the least they can get away with.

PCS is a member driven union, and we need members’ input to these networks. Some regions have highly active networks, others have none yet and could use some interested volunteers to help start them up. If you are interested in getting involved, you can contact your regional PCS office or the PCS equality department – equality@pcs.org.uk.

There’s an interesting blog on the website from the southwest regional disabled members’ network on how they set up their network, the focus of their meetings and how to get involved.