Diversity and inclusion – an unstoppable force

Davena Rankin
Davena Rankin

Conference backed a call from UNISON Scotland for the STUC Women’s Committee to recognise that many women are also members of other equalities groups and therefore at risk of multiple forms of discrimination.

It welcomed the joint STUC Equalities Committees’ group which brings together members of the different equalities groups and will now explore the possibility of developing a mentoring and leadership course specifically targeting experienced trade union women activists, who identify with more than one of the Equalities groups.

Moving the motion, Chair of the UNISON Scotland Women’s Committee and member of the STUC Women’s Committee, Davena Rankin told delegates that “nothing about us without us” is a quick way to summarize what this motion is about.

“We need our women’s committee to reflect the diversity of our unions and society,” said Davena.

In 1926 / 1927 we as a movement saw the first chair of the STUC women’s committee who just happened to be a man. It only took a further 4 years to get a woman as chair, however it took 83 years to have the first Black chair of the committee.

“I’m proud to say that in 2015 I was elected as the first Black chair but it’s not obvious to me when the next chair will be Black,” she added, calling for a more proactive approach to promoting diversity on the committee.

Davena highlighted that UNISON has put challenging discrimination and winning equality at the heart of everything we do, it is written into our rule book and underpins all of our campaigning, bargaining and organising work.

“We don’t always get it right, but we do have proportionality and fair representation built into delegations and committees.

“UNISON’s Scottish Women’s committee have reserved seats for Black women, disabled women, LGBT+ women, young women and retired women because we recognise that we are stronger when we can draw on a range of experiences, knowledge and skills.”

She commended the fantastic work of the STUC women’s committee but asked them to review what they have been doing to see how it can be improved and adapted to the changing challenges and opportunities that present themselves to members and the affiliates.

She spoke of the pandemic which disproportionately affected women but highlighted that women in our Black communities and women who identify with other protected characteristics faced even greater challenges.

“Their lived experience makes for a stronger committee and this motion is calling for a review of how the committee is elected without dictating what the changes may be – what works for other women’s committees may not work for ours,” said Davena.

“Remember we will always be stronger when we are united, but that diversity and inclusion makes us an unstoppable force.”

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