The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published its first single equality scheme.

The programme lays out the practical steps the commission will take to promote equality and human rights in everything it does. The document will be the starting point for its three-year scheme, which will be developed in 2008-09.

Because of the commission's unique remit, the scheme goes beyond the legal requirement to address gender, disability and race and also covers issues around age, sexual orientation, religion and human rights.

Some of the main priorities for action in the commission's scheme include:

  • monitoring the effectiveness of its helpline services to ensure they reach all groups and that people are satisfied with the service;
  • prioritising legal cases in new areas of equality, such as sexual orientation, to build case law;
  • training staff on equality impact assessments, the positive duties and the implications of these for their work;
  • making sure contractors providing goods, facilities and services meet the commission's procurement criteria for all equality areas;
  • appointing an access specialist, whose remit will include assessing and advising on our infrastructure and how we work.

Equality and Human Rights Commission chief executive Nicola Brewer said: "Like all public bodies in Britain, the commission is subject to legislation to promote disability, gender and race equality, but we are going beyond that to cover our full remit.

"It is about our employment practices, how we provide or buy services, how we work in partnership with others and how we include equality in everything we do. I am delighted that we have produced this scheme and look forward to working on our three-year scheme to take the commission forward."

The scheme will be available on the commission's website: