Inclusive chairs groups that represent the members that we serve

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2023 National Disabled Members' Conference
7 July 2023

UNISON is a growing union that strongly believes in equality, diversity, inclusion and equity and we maximise the benefits of this to increase our bargaining and campaigning strength. We recruit and encourage activism from members of all backgrounds. Despite this, many chairs of national committees, including self organised groups and service group executive chairs, do not always reflect how diverse our union is.

Black members can face barriers to being elected into positions of responsibility, including as chairs of national committees. As in any organisation, there are often ‘gate keepers’ who want to retain positions of power. However UNISON is a union that has equality at its very heart and we need to break down any obstacles that exist to Black members’ participation in our union.

Some of those barriers include:

a)Not enough Black members on the committee in question to ensure Black members have a strong enough voice to support Black members getting elected on to the chairs group

b)Some regions not encouraging Black members to put themselves forward for elections and consistently sending all white delegations.

Conference notes that UNISON has rules on fair representation for Black members and other under-represented groups but these are not as strong as the rules on women’s proportionality.

Conference believes it is important that regions, self organised groups and service group executives take a proactive approach and seek to ensure that the chairs groups of national committees fairly represent our Black members.

In the Year of Black Workers 2023, conference instructs the National Disabled Members Committee to work with National Black Members Committee and other appropriate UNISON structures to:

1)Promote opportunities for advancement within our democratic structures for Black disabled members

2)Formulate guidelines for the national disabled members committee to seek to ensure fair representation of Black members on the committee chairs group

3)Identify and seek to eliminate any barriers that may be preventing Black members from being elected on to the national disabled members committee chairs group

4)Work with LAOS to deliver training for the national disabled members committee to include understanding unconscious bias, inclusion and diversity

5)Consider ways of supporting Black disabled members with mentoring or peer support to seek to assist them in being able to confidently take up chair roles

6)Identify best practice in this work and share lessons learned with other self organised groups and with service groups where appropriate.