1. Introduction      

The National Opera Studio (NOS) has an Equality Policy which it aims to implement in all aspects of its work.

The aim of this policy is to ensure that no job applicant, member of staff or auditionee receives less favourable treatment on the grounds of age, race, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy, disability, gender reassignment or religion, or is disadvantaged by conditions or requirements which cannot be shown to be justifiable.

The Equality Policy applies to all employees, artists, workers, interns, suppliers and contractors working for the National Opera Studio.

The National Opera Studio adheres to the policies and guidance of the Equality Act 2010.

 

2. Equality Policy Statement

The National Opera Studio is an equal opportunities employer and welcomes diversity in its workforce.

We subscribe to and uphold the following:

2.0.1             We will treat all staff and artists with dignity and respect and are committed to providing a harmonious working environment that offers equal treatment and equal opportunities for all our staff.

2.0.2             There should be no discrimination, harassment or less favourable treatment shown, either directly or indirectly, against employee, worker, job applicant, artist, auditionee or supplier on the grounds of the following characteristics:

  •  Age
  • Race, including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
  • Being or becoming a transsexual person
  • Being married or in a civil partnership
  • Being pregnant or on maternity leave
  • Disability
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion, belief or lack of religion/belief

These are known as the ‘protected characteristics’.

2.0.3             We value the individual contributions of all our staff and artists and seek to encourage all our staff to develop their potential within an environment of equal opportunity.

2.0.4             At all levels, both the NOS and its staff will work to promote a culture of equality and will uphold the spirit and letter of this policy. It will follow best practice guidelines and provide training for staff where appropriate.  

2.0.5             The NOS operates in an accessibility award-winning building and is committed to taking all reasonable practical steps to assist the recruitment, development and retention of disabled staff and artists.

2.0.6             The NOS will provide any necessary reasonable adjustments for disabled employees, workers, job applicants, auditionees and artists.

2.0.7             We will not tolerate acts which breach this policy and all instances of such behaviour or alleged behaviour, or cases of inciting such behaviour will be taken seriously, investigated and may be subject to NOS disciplinary procedures. In serious cases, such behaviour may constitute gross misconduct, and may result in dismissal.

 

3. Definitions

3.1 Direct Discrimination

Direct discrimination occurs if staff, job applicants, artists or auditionees are treated less favourably than others on grounds of the protected characteristics.

For example, decisions or actions listed below would be unlawful if taken purely on grounds of the protected characteristics:

    • Deciding not to employ someone or not to take them onto the training programmes
    • Dismissing them
    • Refusing training
    • Denying promotion
    • Denying pay and benefits
    • Giving them adverse terms and conditions of employment or engagement

3.2 Indirect Discrimination

Indirect discrimination occurs if:

  • A provision, criterion or practice is not applied equally to people with different protected characteristics;
  • The proportion of people who can comply with it is much smaller for people with protected characteristics, and is to their detriment;
  • The provision, criterion or practice cannot be shown to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Indirect discrimination is unlawful, whether it is intentional or not.

3.3 Harassment

Harassment is unwanted conduct that violates the dignity of a person or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. It may be intentional bullying which is obvious or violent, but it can also be unintentional, subtle or insidious. It may not be targeted at an individual, but may consist of a general culture, which undermines a particular group.

Harassment will not be tolerated under any circumstances and any case of harassment should be reported to the Chief Executive or the Director. Any reported case of harassment will be followed up and may be investigated. Following investigation, an employee may be subject to NOS disciplinary procedures.
 
The NOS operates a Professional Code of Conduct that forms part of all new artist and staff induction packs, and is shared with all visiting artists and coaches.

Specific examples of harassment include, but are not limited to:

  • Racial harassment: racist jokes or language, open hostility, or unfair exclusion from social events, or unfair allocation of work on racial or ethnic grounds
  • Sexual or maternity related harassment: gender-specific jokes, unnecessary physical contact or threatened violence, displays of offensive material or emails, speculation about a person's private life, unwanted propositions or gifts, exclusion from social events or unreasonable allocation of work on grounds of sex, maternity or pregnancy
  • Harassment on grounds of sexual orientation, gender reassignment or identity: insensitive language, jokes, display of offensive material, speculation about a person's private life or exclusion from social events on grounds of sexual orientation, gender reassignment or identity
  • Harassment on grounds of marital or family status or civil partnership: inappropriate jokes or language, speculation about a person's private life or exclusion from social events on grounds of marital or family status or civil partnership
  • Harassment on grounds of religion or belief: jokes, inappropriate language, open hostility or threatening behaviour, displays of offensive material or emails, exclusion from social events or unfair allocation of work on grounds of religion or belief
  • Harassment on grounds of disability: insensitive language, jokes or gestures, inappropriate personal questions about the disability, inappropriate assumptions about the capabilities of a disabled person, unfair allocation of work, exclusion from social events on grounds of disability
  • Harassment on grounds of age: insensitive jokes or language, exclusion from social events or unfair allocation of work on grounds of age.

3.4 Bullying

Bullying most commonly occurs in the form of unacceptable misuse of managerial power, but can also occur between colleagues at the same level. Bullying is distinct from performance management or a robust management style. It is destructive rather than constructive, it focuses on the person rather than their work performance, and results in the individual feeling threatened or compromised.

Specific examples of bullying include, but are not limited to:

  • Shouting or abuse
  • Public reprimand or humiliation
  • Deliberately undermining an employee or making them appear incompetent
  • Deliberately withholding essential resources, information or training
  • Deliberate wrongful attribution of blame
  • Unreasonable allocation of work, responsibilities or targets

Any case of bullying will be viewed as a form of harassment. If a member of staff or an artist is subjected to bullying they should report it to the Chief Executive or if appropriate, the Chair. Any reported case of bullying will be followed up and may be investigated. Following investigation, an employee or artist may be subject to NOS disciplinary procedures.


3.5 Associative Discrimination

Associative discrimination occurs when an employee or artist is directly discriminated against or harassed for their association with another individual who has a protected characteristic.

3.6 Perceptive Discrimination

Perceptive discrimination occurs where an employee or artist is harassed based on a perception that they have a particular protected characteristic, when they do not actually have that characteristic.

3.7 Third-party harassment

Third-party harassment occurs where an employee, worker or artist is harassed in relation to a protected characteristic by third parties such as patrons or contractors, and if this occurs on more than two occasions. In the event that an employee or artist experiences harassment on the basis of a protected characteristic by a third-party, this should be reported to the Chief Executive so that appropriate steps can be taken to help prevent reoccurrence.

3.8 Victimisation

Victimisation occurs when a member of staff or artist treats another member of staff or artist less favourably because:

  • The other person has brought proceedings alleging that he or she has been discriminated against contrary to this policy; or
  • They have indicated that they intend to make such a claim; or
  • They have assisted a colleague to make such a claim.

Victimisation will not be tolerated under any circumstances and any employee or artist who is found to have victimised another member of staff or artist will be subject to NOS disciplinary procedures.

3.9 Occupational Requirement

In the context of recruitment or auditioning, if a particular protected characteristic is central to a particular job or training programme, there are very limited circumstances in which a jobholder or artist must have a particular protected characteristic. In such circumstances, this will be an occupational requirement.

3.10 Positive Action

Selection for recruitment, training or development must be on merit. In certain circumstances, however, it may be possible to take steps to encourage people from groups with different needs or with a past track record of disadvantage or low participation by taking positive action. Such steps may include targeting training or job advertising to reach out to certain groups or minorities.

 

4. Code of Practice

The purpose of this Code of Practice is to outline practices by which the NOS Equality Policy may be given full effect. As an employer, the NOS is bound by law to promote equality of opportunity by removing or avoiding discriminatory practices in accordance with the Equality Act 2010. 

All staff and artists have a right to a working environment free from unfair discrimination, harassment or victimisation of any kind. Where problems occur, it is recommended that these are addressed quickly and as close to the event as possible, initially through an informal procedure, prior to having recourse to the formal procedure. Some forms of discrimination can happen accidentally or through thoughtlessness,
and some forms of harassment can be unintentional. In these cases, every effort should be made to resolve the issue informally. Where discrimination has occurred, and in order to facilitate the informal procedure, individuals should be receptive to feedback or guidance on matters related to the NOS Equality Policy.
 
It is the responsibility of all staff and artists to behave in accordance with the principles of this policy.

4.1 Recruitment 

4.1.1      No vacancy or audition will be advertised or publicised in such a way that discourages applications from any sector of the population.

4.1.2      Exceptions will be made only for jobs with genuine occupational requirements.

4.1.3      No priority for any part of the recruitment or auditions process shall be given to relatives or associates of employees, artists or former employees or artists.

4.1.4      Selection criteria and procedures will ensure that individuals are selected, promoted and treated on the basis of their relevant merits and abilities. Each individual shall be assessed so far as practicable against a set of objective, non-discriminatory criteria directly related to the demands of the particular vacancy.

4.1.5      The NOS will share its Equality Policy on its website. All recruitment material will state that the NOS is an equal opportunities employer.

4.1.6      The NOS will consider supplying details in different formats if requested by disabled applicants.

4.1.7      It is the general policy of the NOS to advertise all job vacancies externally and as widely as possible.

4.1.8      All interviews for job positions will be conducted in accordance with the terms and spirit of this policy. The questions asked of candidates will be asked in order to elicit information that will give a fair and equal assessment of that particular applicant's willingness and ability to perform the tasks required by the vacancy.

4.1.9      The NOS will, where appropriate, make reasonable adjustments to its arrangements for interviews and conditions of employment for disabled applicants to ensure that they do not place such applicants at an unjustified and significant disadvantage. Alternative terms and conditions may sometimes be justified with regard to a disabled applicant where a material and substantial reason applies, and there is no reasonable adjustment which can be made to remove that reason.

4.1.10    No one sector of the population will be disadvantaged or discriminated against in relation to the terms of employment offered or applied to them. 

4.2 Environment

4.2.1      The NOS is committed to maintaining an environment which encourages all members of staff to contribute fully and on an equal basis in their work to the life of the NOS.

4.2.2      The NOS will continue in its efforts to ensure that so far as is reasonably practical, all parts of the NOS are accessible and safe for all staff and artists, regardless of disability.

4.2.3      The NOS will endeavour to use non-discriminatory language in all its internal and external documents and official correspondence.

4.3 Staff and artist awareness

4.3.1      All employees and artists are encouraged to assist in the removal of any discriminatory practices that may exist at the NOS by drawing them to the attention of the Chief Executive.  In order to promote practices which will lead to an increase in equality of opportunity, all staff and artists will be made aware of the NOS Equality Policy.

4.3.2      Specifically, if any person uses actions or words reflecting prejudice or otherwise contravening the NOS Equality Policy, any members of staff are asked to:

a)            tactfully indicate to the person concerned that their behaviour is unacceptable

b)            report the incident to the Chief Executive as soon as possible and in writing. 

At least two senior members of staff will discuss the allegation with the person concerned and seek a response.  Where the allegation concerns contravention of any of the guidelines of the Equality Act 2010, the senior staff will use their judgement and discretion to decide whether further action is required. If there are additional, verified infringements by the offender, the senior staff will report this to the Chair of Trustees together with their supporting documentation.

Following investigation, an employee or artist may be subject to NOS disciplinary procedures.   

4.4 Training, Development and Promotion of Staff

4.4.1      All members of staff will be given equal opportunity and, where appropriate, training to progress within the NOS. The NOS is committed to ensuring that this policy remains fully effective.

4.4.2      Employees involved in recruitment or management of others will receive training or coaching as required to help them understand and comply with the law and our policy.

4.5 Grievance Procedure

4.5.1      Any employee or artist who alleges that he or she has been the subject of discrimination or harassment by the NOS or by one of its members of staff, should report the complaint, in writing, to the Chief Executive or if this is not appropriate, to the Chair.

4.6 Monitoring

4.6.1      The NOS Equality Policy will be publicised in appropriate ways within the NOS and a copy will be issued to all new members of staff, visiting staff and artists.  The NOS Equality Policy will be explained to all members of staff and artists when taking up an appointment or at their induction.

4.6.2      The NOS will continue to give guidance on equal opportunities to members of staff, particularly those with managerial responsibilities.

4.6.3      The NOS will monitor the effectiveness of its equal opportunities in recruitment and in the diversity of the workforce and training programmes through equal opportunities monitoring forms.

4.6.4      To this end, all job applicants, freelance or visiting staff and auditionees will be asked to provide information on key areas relevant to current legislation: gender, ethnic origin, age, and disability. Such information will only be used for the purpose of monitoring the diversity of the NOS workforce, prospective applicants and its artists and training programmes.

4.6.5      The Chief Executive shall keep the working of the NOS Equality Policy under review and record any specific measures adopted to promote equality of opportunity.

4.7 References

4.7.1      Any reference post-employment will be provided in accordance with this policy without bias.

4.7.2      Any post-employment reference will provide factual information on the individual's employment history and may include information on the basis of merit, capability and conduct.

4.7.3      As part of the NOS recruitment and audition process, offers are made subject to satisfactory references. In the case of negative references received the NOS may request further documentation from the referee and consult with the candidate as necessary. 

4.8 Freelance and Visiting Staff and Contractors

4.8.1      Freelance, visiting staff, artists and contractors should be made aware of the NOS Equality Policy when working at or visiting the NOS.

4.8.2      Any reported breach of the NOS Equality Policy by a visiting member of staff, artist or contractor will be followed up in accordance with our procedures.


4.9 Young Artists
 

4.9.1      Subject to the provisions of paragraph 4.9.2 below, the NOS will ensure that all applicants for admission are considered only on the basis of their artistic merit, defined through a competitive audition, or suitability for the course for which the application has been made.

4.9.2      Where an applicant with any form of disability is deemed to be acceptable for admission on artistic merit, the NOS will take into account any special needs of the Artist and the NOS’ ability to meet them, prior to reaching a decision as to whether an offer of a place can be made.  Where, after having taken the views of the applicant into account, a recommendation is made to reject such an applicant because the NOS is unable to physically accommodate him or her, a record shall be kept and the applicant will receive a written explanation giving reasons for that recommendation.  Before rejecting any disabled candidate, the NOS will appraise its own access procedures and support services for artists, and give guidance about the NOS’ responsibility under the Equality Act 2010.

4.9.3      The NOS is committed to maintaining an environment which encourages all artists to contribute fully and on an equal basis both to their training and to the life of the NOS.

4.9.4      The NOS will designate a member of staff (the Artistic Planning Manager) who will have administrative responsibility for artists with physical disabilities and who will coordinate admissions procedures and any requirements in respect of such artists seeking admission and in respect of artists on the course. 

4.9.5      All artists engaged on training programmes at the NOS are expected to abide by the NOS Equality Policy.