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Realising the value of equality, diversity and inclusion

New GCC EDI Toolkit published (Find in the Policy and Toolkit tab below)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, or EDI, ensures fair treatment and opportunity for all. It aims to eradicate prejudice and discrimination based on an individual or group of individuals' protected characteristics.

Sadly, although much is written on EDI and its importance, few tangible actions are undertaken by numerous organisations to accept, adopt and integrate EDI into their corporate culture. It is often just a data collection exercise within a company's recruitment processes or employee surveys which can be reported against an agreed set of metrics.

EDI is about integrating and embedding the behaviour of inclusion and diversity into a corporate or professional culture while ensuring all organisation planning, functions, and processes align to advance equality. It is about understanding how internal and/or external activities can be equal and fair to all people. On an individual basis, it is accepting and embracing people and their uniqueness beyond yourself.

For equality, diversity and inclusion to become a living part of corporate culture, all people connected with that organisation must be on the same path and willing to accept and appreciate the cultural and societal mosaic in which we live.

Defining equality, diversity and inclusion

Although EDI has some universal norms, its exact definition varies depending on national and cultural beliefs and values. However, a clear explanation of EDI is:


At its core, equality means fairness: ensuring that individuals, or groups of individuals, are not treated less favourably because of their protected characteristics. Equality relates to the legal obligations in which organisations must not unlawfully discriminate.

Key takeaway: treated less favourably


Diversity is about recognising differences. It’s acknowledging the benefits of having a range of perspectives in an organisation’s operations and decision-making and taking steps to aid that diversity.

Key takeaways: acknowledging benefits, taking steps


Inclusion is where people’s differences are valued and used to thrive in that organisation. An inclusive organisation is one in which everyone feels that they belong without conforming. Their contributions matter, and they can perform to their full potential, no matter their characteristics, background, identity, or circumstances.

Key takeaway: valued and used

GCC and its 15-point EDI action plan

The General Chiropractic Council is committed to ensuring that all our activities, as a regulator, a service provider and an employer, provide equality of opportunity. We value diversity and aim to ensure that our work is free from discrimination.

As a health and social care regulator, we have due regard for the need to:

  • eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by the Equality Act 2010
  • advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic
  • foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it

GCC 15-point action plan

The GCC 15-point EDI action plan builds upon the Council's current Equality, Diversity and Inclusion activity. It will help the GCC move further towards realising its EDI goals and ambitions, ie. creating an internal culture of understanding and engagement and influencing and guiding the profession it regulates. 

What are protected characteristics?

The UK’s protected characteristics stem from the Equality Act 2010, which brought together several pieces of legislation under one act, ie. the Race Relations Act 1976. In essence, they are characteristics of a person’s identity which make them who they are. If a protected characteristic is known or revealed, it is unlawful to treat that person differently.

Protected characteristics vary between nations. The UK protects nine characteristics, while the USA has eight, and not all are the same. In the UK, the protected characteristics are (in alphabetical order):

1. Age
Unfair or unfavourable actions, language or treatment of people due to their age eg. treating people differently or dismissing/restricting their roles due to their age. This applies to both young and old.

2. Disability
Prejudice against people with long-term (12-month+) mental or physical disabilities alongside a failure to make sufficient adjustments to remove hindrances or barriers caused by the disability.

3. Gender reassignment
The law protects trans men and women regardless of any medical process eg. a trans man who was assigned as female at birth but has a male gender identity and lives as a man.

4. Marriage and civil partnership
This is treating people differently on account of their relationship status, be it between a man and a woman or members of the same sex.

5. Pregnancy and maternity
This is victimising or being unfair to a woman due to their pregnancy or for being on maternity leave.

6. Race
Discrimination against a person, directly or indirectly, due to their race, colour or nationality. Direct discrimination is, for example, rejecting any application due to nationality, race or colour (real or perceived by name). Indirect discrimination is placing procedures or policy which places people at a disadvantage ie. placing a requirement for a UK-only qualification which then restricts the opportunity for others to apply.

7. Religion or belief
This is where a person is discriminated against due to religious or cultural beliefs eg. not recruiting or dismissing a person due to their religion (direct) or placing barriers to allow a person to practise their religion, such as holding meetings at the same time as prayers (indirect).

8. Sex
This is treating a man or woman differently because of their sex, including positive discrimination. Common examples are, asking job applicants different questions due to their sex or not promoting women due to future pregnancy concerns. Remember, sex is not gender.

9. Sexual orientation
This is where people are discriminated against for being gay, bisexual, heterosexual or asexual ie. treated less favourably due to a person’s emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to another person.
These are not comprehensive definitions of protected characteristics. In addition, types of discrimination go beyond direct and indirect eg. associative (associating with someone with a protected characteristic), perceptive (being thought to have a protected characteristic), victimisation (treated unfairly for supporting a complaint) etc.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) is not a simple tick-box exercise. It is an ongoing and ever-evolving behavioural and cultural process, adapting to our changing world.  

The GCC has undertaken several projects over the years to realise its EDI ambitions. This GCC 15-point action plan is the next evolutionary step in furthering its work and will help establish greater authority, responsibility and structure in future EDI activity.

The proposed activity within this plan is the start of the process. Its first action is the creation of an EDI Working Group who will be responsible for defining future aims, objectives and strategy. 

Summary of the 15 points

In line with the new GCC 2022-2024 Strategy and the accompanying strategic and business plans, the GCC EDI 15-point action plan aims to foster a transformational change in culture and behaviour by establishing support internally and securing support externally. 

The 15-point action plan should not be considered a numerical step-by-step action plan.

  1. Creation of a standing EDI Working Group, taking representation and guidance from GCC (internal), the profession and EDI professionals, all of whom can provide valuable insight and advice.  

  2. Review GCC functions and processes to identify and address any possible equality issues (positive, adverse or neutral) and how best to address any of the findings, ie. the creation of an Equality Impact Assessment action plan.

  3. Review, update, implement and disseminate GCC EDI guidance, internally and externally. The guidance should not be prescriptive but encourage EDI considerations throughout process or activity development alongside justifications, ie. diversity in conference speakers, subject matter and explanation for alternations. 

  4. Creation of a corporate inclusion policy, EDI compliant and in line with GCC guidance, as outlined in point three. 

  5. Defining EDI consultation - internal and external. The consultation will assist the working group in establishing baseline understanding and concerns of EDI and help steer future actions. 

  6. Establishing a collaborative support network for EDI, be it with regulators, associations and the profession (individual, company, employees). This network will demonstrate the GCC commitment to EDI and provide a helpful knowledge transfer and support network. 

  7. Review GCC brand guidelines (visual and voice) to ensure EDI guidance compliance. 

  8. Develop an EDI data collection policy,  defining reasons for data collection and outputs, all within the Equality Act 2010 and GDPR rules and definitions. This work needs to ensure greater understanding (internally and externally) of why we collect protected characteristic data, use the correct wording and definitions, and produce relevant actions to address any findings of concern. For example, do not collect information on protected characteristics that are not reviewed or used, or collect information outside the Equality Act, such as gender. 

  9. Create an EDI communication and activation plan based on actions contained within the plan. Its purpose is to create a suitable communication framework (internal comms and external comms) with agreed timings, outputs and identifiable impact. 

  10. Operational review for protected characteristics ie. wheelchair access, home and office conditions, pregnancy rules, travel rules etc. 

  11. Mandatory EDI training for GCC employees and guidance on EDI training for the profession. This activity should go beyond top-line knowledge of the protected characteristics and help identify where and how EDI impacts each person’s role. The feedback from this activity will help strengthen and embed EDI within the GCC’s culture and operational behaviour. 

  12. EDI within registrant Continuing Professional Development activity

  13. EDI patient/public research to identify equality, diversity and inclusion issues within the profession. The findings may well be outside the scope of the GCC to enact. Still, they should provide the professional associations with helpful baseline information to address the issue/s with their members (see point six) 

  14. Creation of EDI champions within the profession, helping to identify issues and communicate the value of EDI to all target groups. 

  15. Create an EDI performance tracker to be reported annually to the GCC Council, the Professional Standards Authority, professional associations and registrants.


Read our GCC 15-point EDI Action Plan


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