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Equality policy

The Board approved this policy for adoption on 19 January 2017

Mountaineering Scotland will promote equality within Mountaineering, and where it is within its power to do so, eliminate unfair discrimination.

We believe that equality is defined by the terms fairness, justice, inclusion and respect for diversity. It is about making sure that everyone who wants to has an equal chance to participate in and contribute to the aspects of mountaineering that interest them, and that no one is discriminated against unfairly for any reason, including – but not limited to – age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (which includes ethnic or national origin, colour or nationality), religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

Sports equality is also about recognising and acknowledging that inequalities do exist in sport. Mountaineering Scotland will take positive and proactive steps to overcome inequalities which affect individuals and groups with protected characteristics, with the aim of making necessary adjustments and removing barriers to participation wherever this is reasonably possible.

1.1       Mountaineering Scotland believes that equality is defined by the terms fairness, justice, inclusion and respect for diversity. Equality means making sure that everyone has an equal chance to participate in and contribute to their chosen sport or recreation, and that no one is discriminated against unfairly for any reason, including – but not limited to – age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (which includes ethnic or national origin, colour or nationality), religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.


1.2       Sports equality is also about recognising and acknowledging that inequalities do exist in sport. Mountaineering Scotland will take positive action to overcome inequalities which affect individuals and groups with protected characteristics, with the aim of making necessary adjustments and removing barriers to participation wherever this is reasonably possible.


1.3       Mountaineering Scotland recognises that achieving improvements in equality in mountaineering activities may require the unequal allocation or redistribution of resources and entitlements in order to overcome previous inequalities or discrimination.


1.4       Mountaineering Scotland is committed to promoting and achieving improvements in equality, and to ensuring that discrimination (intimidation, victimisation, harassment or abuse) and / or inappropriate language or behaviour, once identified, are eliminated. Discrimination on grounds such as those listed in paragraph 1.1 above will not be tolerated. Appendix A includes definitions of the terms used in this Policy.

2.1       Mountaineering Scotland is committed to equality through its Articles of Association. Article 3.7 ‘Openness of the Company’ states:

Membership of the Company is open to all who meet the criteria in Articles 3.2 to 3.6. No applications will be refused on other than reasonable grounds and there will be no discrimination on grounds of any of the protected characteristics set out in section 4 of the Equality Act 2010. The Company will respect the rights, dignity and worth of every member.


2.2       In September 2016 the Board of Mountaineering Scotland approved the Strategic Plan 2017-21 which embeds aims, actions and targets relating to equality in strategic and operational plans. These commit directors, staff and volunteers to the implementation of initiatives which will achieve targets and agreed actions.


2.3       The company has established an Equality Working Group which has the following terms of reference:

  • To communicate on equality issues with the board and staff through its Chair and the CEO;
  • To specify actions and timescales required to complete implementation of the Equality Action Plan;
  • To oversee the collation of data and evidence required for submission to equality audits and ongoing monitoring of progress towards equality targets;
  • To select other organisations with which Mountaineering Scotland may wish to liaise and to appoint representatives who will be responsible for liaison and reporting back to the Equality Working Group;
  • To ensure effective communication concerning the Mountaineering Scotland’s  commitment to equality with the membership and other stakeholders;
  • To develop meaningful and sustainable activities and outcomes for inclusion in operational plans.


2.3       The Board will ensure that Mountaineering Scotland’s commitment to equality is given due regard in the development of all its policies, programmes and services.

2.4       The CEO, with the support of the Board, will address any form of discrimination, harassment or abuse that occurs within the company, defined as the staff, Board members, volunteers, coaches, and activities identified within the scope of the annual Operational Plan and the behavior described (but not limited to) Appendix A.

2.5       Mountaineering Scotland is concerned to ensure that individuals feel able to raise any bona fide grievance or complaint related to such discrimination of behaviour without fear of being penalised for doing so. Any resultant investigation will be conducted impartially, confidentially, and without avoidable delay using the approved Complaints Policy.

2.6       Mountaineering Scotland will comply with its statutory and legislative obligations to eliminate discrimination and will ensure that it will fully inform itself of new developments in terms of anti-discrimination and equalities legislation.

3.1       This Code of Practice is binding on all Mountaineering Scotland personnel (i.e. staff, Board members, other volunteers and coaches) and will act as a guiding principle for all events and activities organised by Mountaineering Scotland for the benefit of its members and the public.

3.2       Mountaineering Scotland recommends that its club members adopt this Policy or produce their own Policy / Code of Practice.

3.3       Mountaineering Scotland will monitor progress in developing the equality profile of its membership through periodic analysis of equality data provided by its membership system.

4.1       Accountability for equality:  Mountaineering Scotland’s Board will ensure that the commitment to, and responsibility for equality is placed at the highest levels in the organisation. The CEO, supported by the Board of Directors, is responsible and accountable for equality within the company. A director shall be nominated by the Board to oversee the implementation and operation of the Policy and Equality Working Group. The Policy will be reviewed at intervals of no more than three years or when necessary due to changes in legislation.

4.2       Staff Time and Resources:  The CEO shall ensure that all staff and volunteers are aware of this Policy and that practical guidelines are developed by the Equality Working Group and implemented to ensure its implementation by the Board, Advisory and Working Groups, and staff.

4.3       Employment:  The Board is committed to Mountaineering Scotland being an equitable employer that recognises and encourages diversity, inclusion and respect in the workforce. It is committed to having in place employment conditions and practices that ensure all staff and volunteers are treated equitably. Relevant policies relating to recruitment, harassment, bullying, whistle-blowing, grievance and disciplinary procedures are detailed in the Mountaineering Scotland HR Handbook.

4.4       Volunteers:  The Mountaineering Scotland Board has implemented a Volunteering Code of Practice which defines the conduct expected of volunteers.

4.5       Training and Development:  The Mountaineering Scotland Board is committed to its staff and volunteers having a good understanding of the principles of equality. As such, the CEO will ensure that staff and volunteers receive relevant information relating to equality, including examples of good practice, its impact on sport and recreation, and the progress made by Mountaineering Scotland in achieving its commitment to equality and related objectives.

4.6       Policies and Programmes: 

  1. The Mountaineering Scotland Board is committed to ensuring that equality is considered when developing new policies, plans, programmes, services or initiatives.
  2. Mountaineering Scotland planning will take account of the need to resource this Code of Practice.

4.7       The Mountaineering Scotland Board, through the Equality Working Group and assessment of Board reports, will review the equality impact of Strategic and Operational Plans through a standing agenda item at each Board meeting.

4.8       Partnership Working

  1. Mountaineering Scotland will work with Mountain Training UK and Mountain Training Scotland with the aim of developing a consistent approach and standards in relation to equality in mountaineering, and to share good practice in this area.
  2. Mountaineering Scotland will develop relationships with partner organisations and groups which enable it to understand barriers to participation and encourage and support individuals who might otherwise be excluded from mountaineering.

4.9       Communication and Access to Information

  1. The CEO will ensure that this Policy and our commitment to equality are communicated to all staff and volunteers, and to members through updates in the Annual Report and other communications.
  2. The CEO is responsible for ensuring that all directors and staff read and agree to this Policy as part of their induction procedure, including signing an acknowledgement to record their commitment.
  3. Mountaineering Scotland staff will give due regard to equality when publishing documents and images, and will strive to ensure that positive images are used to reflect the demographics of Scottish society.
  4. Mountaineering Scotland staff will give due regard to equality and accessibility when publishing information on the website.
  5. The CEO will ensure, where financially viable, that publications can be made available in alternative formats and languages. 
  6. The CEO will ensure that this Policy and any revisions will be made available on the Mountaineering Scotland website, and included in the Mountaineering Scotland Company Manual and referenced in the Volunteering Code of Practice.

This policy is in force from 3 February 2017 and shall be reviewed every three years, with the next review taking place on 3 February 2020.

UK Equality Legislation

The Equality Act 2010 replaced all previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act. It simplified the law, removing inconsistencies and making the law easier for people to understand and comply with. It also strengthened the law in important ways to help tackle discrimination and inequality.

The Equality Act 2010

  •  The Act has brought together, for the first time, all the legal requirements on equality that the private, public and voluntary sectors need to follow.
  • It affects equality law at work and in delivering all sorts of services and running businesses organisations and clubs.
  • It replaces all the existing equality law including:
    • The Equal Pay Act 1970
    • The Sex Discrimination Act 1975
    • The Race Relations Act 1976
    • The Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • Most of the new law is based on current legislation which has been streamlined but there are some important differences.
  • It protects people from discrimination on the basis of certain characteristics. These are known as ‘protected characteristics’ and they vary slightly according to whether a person is at work or using a service.
  • Protected characteristics are - age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion and belief, sex, sexual orientation.
  • This means that individuals will be protected if they have a characteristic, are assumed to have it, associate with someone who has it or with someone who is assumed to have it.
  • All employers and service providers have a responsibility under the law to treat their employees and service users fairly.
  • You are a service provider if you provide goods, facilities or services to the general public or section of it, regardless of whether these are free or paid for.

If you are an employer, the law generally still applies to you even if your workers are temporary, do not have written contracts of employment or are recruited to other positions such as trainees, apprentices or business partners


Direct Discrimination

  • Where an individual or a group of people is treated less favourably than others in circumstances which are the same or not materially different. An example would be stating that only men can apply for the position of Chair in an organisation. This would constitute direct discrimination on the grounds of gender.

Indirect Discrimination

  • Imposing requirements or conditions which appear to apply equally to all, but which in practice can be met only by certain sections of the population. Such requirements of conditions are lawful only if they can be genuinely justified in relation to the situation in question (i.e. if there is a Genuine Occupational Requirement for an individual to be from a particular group in society). An example of indirect discrimination would be imposing a requirement upon all team players to wear a particular type of clothing as part of their uniform, which may indirectly preclude some people from being able to take part, on the grounds of their religious belief.

Discrimination arising from disability

  • When a disabled person is treated unfavourably because of something connected with their disability and this unfavourable treatment cannot be justified, this is unlawful. This type of discrimination only relates to disability.


  • Encouraging diversity means respecting and embracing individual and community differences in society.


  • In its simplest sense, equality means fairness. It is the process of allocating or reallocating resources and entitlements fairly and without discrimination, and taking steps to redress any existing inequalities or unfairness in how resources or entitlements are currently distributed. Equality in sport means applying the principles of fairness to ensure that the diverse needs of individuals in Scottish society are respected, so that all individuals have equal opportunities to participate in sport and physical recreation and have their rights protected


  • The systematic application of a set of moral rules, principles, values and norms.


  • A course of action, or form of behaviour that causes repeated or persistent offence to a person or group.

Positive action

  • Positive action means taking into account that a particular group has experienced disadvantage and so targeted action is needed to support / enable the disadvantaged group and to redress an existing inequality. This may require additional effort, time or resources to be targeted at a particular group in order to achieve equality. This is NOT positive discrimination, which is not legal in the UK. Positive action can only be carried out within the bounds of the appropriate legislation. An example of positive action would be advertising a post in media particularly aimed at women if there is clear evidence that women are under-represented in a particular role or level in that organisation.

Positive Discrimination

  • Positive discrimination is not lawful in the UK. An example of positive discrimination would be appointing a person purely on the grounds of his or her race or gender, rather than on that person’s ability to do the job in question (unless a Genuine Occupational Requirement applies to the post).


  • Victimisation is defined as when someone is treated oppressively in revenge, and as such is subjected to suffering or ill treatment. If a person is subjected to ill treatment as a result of raising a grievance following discrimination, this would be victimisation.


  • Bullying is defined as a form of personal harassment involving the misuse of power, influence or position to persistently criticise, humiliate or undermine an individual.