Valuing Diversity is one of PHSO’s core organisational values. This must drive how we treat our customers, the wider public we serve, and one another. In order to handle complaints effectively our policies, processes and interactions must be fair, inclusive, accessible and responsive.

Our commitment to promoting equality and valuing diversity is central to providing excellent customer service. We know that organisations that deliver high standards on equality and diversity deliver high standards for their services generally. We strive to be one of those organisations.

The Equality Act 2010

A number of separate pieces of equality legislation have been brought together within the Equality Act 2010 and this has also extended and enhanced protection for people in relation to:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

We have worked with the Government Equalities Office (GEO) on PHSO’s position in relation to the Equality Act’s provisions and we will be listed as an authority subject to the Act’s general public sector duty. This requires us to have due regard to the need to:

  • eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation;
  • advance equality of opportunity between those with and without the above characteristics; and
  • foster good relations between those with and without the above characteristics.

Our casework functions are exempt from this general duty so that the Ombudsman’s independence in decision making is not interfered with. Nonetheless, we will promote equal access to our service for all members of the community and tailor our service to meet people’s individual needs.

  • The general and specific duties apply to many of the bodies in the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction and we will take them into account when considering complaints about those bodies.

PHSO will comply with the general duty in the way we manage our people and the organisation.

At PHSO we take an inclusive view of equality and therefore this strategy applies to promoting equality for all of the protected groups and valuing the diversity of individuals. We set out an ambitious vision and we intend to be bold about the way we tackle the challenges involved.


Vision Statement

PHSO will be an exemplar organisation, demonstrating excellence in equality and diversity issues across all areas of policy and practice, and influencing others through the high standards that we set. 

In all aspects of our work we will be:

  • accessible
  • inclusive
  • responsive
  • fair.

PHSO’s Vision Statement will be realised, over the next four years, through all of our staff working together to achieve:

  • An understanding of the different needs of PHSO’s customers so that we are able to provide an accessible and responsive service to all who need it
  • A PHSO workforce that includes a diverse range of people at all levels, reflecting the community we serve and the working populations around our sites
  • An open and inclusive culture within PHSO
  • A good reputation for understanding and managing equality and diversity effectively.

Achieving the vision

Customers: an accessible and responsive service to all


By 2015 we want to understand the different needs of our customers, reach out to a diverse audience and provide an accessible service. Our equality objectives are:

  • To gather and use research data to understand who does and does not use our service, and how we can best meet different access needs
  • To promote awareness of and access to our service to potential customers
  • To ensure communication channels are accessible in line with established standards
  • To ensure that our people are well equipped and confident in providing a fair and responsive service to all our customers.

PHSO is an organisation that:

  • Is easy for people to find and contact
  • Promotes equal access to our service for all members of the community
  • Has information that everyone can understand
  • Listens to people to understand their needs and tailors our service accordingly in order to right wrongs effectively.

PHSO People: a diverse workforce at all levels


Our equality objectives are:

  • To ensure that recruitment is fair, open and attracts diverse talent
  • To provide equal opportunities for all learning and development activities
  • To invest in opportunities for all our people to develop their potential so that we have a supply of diverse talent for the future
  • To achieve a significant improvement in workforce diversity at all levels.

By 2015 PHSO attracts, develops and retains high-calibre, motivated people, from a diverse range of backgrounds, at all levels within PHSO, who are performing well to fulfil PHSO’s strategic and operational objectives.

Open and Inclusive Culture: valuing difference to reach shared goals


By 2015 we want to have integrated our equality, diversity and human rights values into our everyday interactions and organisational culture. Our equality objectives are:

  • To understand, utilise and celebrate the diversity of our people
  • To empower our people to challenge inappropriate or discriminatory behaviour and to live our values
  • To ensure that everyone fulfils the expectations and responsibilities in relation to equality and diversity that are set out in our competency frameworks.

PHSO has an open and inclusive workplace culture, in which the differences that all our people bring to PHSO are valued, and equality of opportunity is advanced for all.

Reputation: being an exemplar organisation


By 2015 we want to have a good reputation for equality and diversity and be recognised for this achievement. Our equality objectives are:

  • As a minimum, to comply with our legal duties;
  • To engage with and learn from leading organisations and networks to promote equality and value diversity;
  • To use highly reputable standards to learn, improve and recognise progress.

In order to improve public services and influence policy, PHSO has established a reputation for understanding, managing and demonstrating good equality and diversity principles and practices.


The Equality & Diversity Strategy is an organisation wide strategy that needs to be understood and owned across PHSO.

The specific actions to be taken to deliver the Strategy will be agreed each year within and across Divisional Plans, and linked to work plans at directorate, team and individual levels as part of PHSO’s usual business planning process. This will mean that the ownership and accountability for individual pieces of work is clear.


The monitoring of progress against the Strategy will be undertaken through PHSO’s corporate performance monitoring system. Progress against individual actions will be reported to the Executive Board and Advisory Board through the quarterly business plan progress reports and associated assurance processes. This will mean that work towards our E&D vision becomes part of our mainstream activity.