Significant challenges

"Every individual should have an equal chance to make the most of their talents, capabilities and endeavour; and no one should have poorer life chances because of where, what or to whom they were born"

Notwithstanding the data gaps identified, the evidence chapters of the Review offer a great number of insights. They uncover many instances of unfairness and unequal outcomes. However, not all of these inequalities are of the same significance or magnitude.

Rather than directing limited resources indiscriminately, we consider it important that society in general, and the Commission in particular, focus their energies and efforts on tackling the most pressing inequalities and disadvantages. We have therefore carried out a further simple analysis to identify which, out of all the different challenges and inequalities in modern society, are the most significant and the most urgently in need of resolution.

In essence, we have considered each of the examples of unequal outcomes revealed by the Review and asked the following questions:

  • Does this equality gap present a risk to basic human rights?
  • Is it caused by social, cultural or economic factors rather than by intrinsic human difference?
  • Does it affect many people - and does it impair people's life chances?
  • Is the problem persistent or getting worse, and does it require public intervention to arrest its decline?
  • Is it in the public interest to reduce the equality penalty?
    • is the issue trivial?
    • Might it be essentially insoluble?
    • Is action now necessary to forestall further social or economic costs later?

Through this process we have identified 15 significant challenges.

They are grouped under five major objectives which speak to what we believe are fundamental values in our society: that every individual should have an equal chance to make the most of their talents, capabilities and endeavour; and that no one should have poorer life chances because of where, what or to whom they were born.

Where the challenges are in some way new, or emerging as a result of social, economic or demographic change, we highlight this in the text . The fact that the challenges we face are constantly changing underlines the importance of reviewing progress over time.

Emphatically, this does not mean that no action should be taken on any other issues which may not be included in these challenges. Nor should these challenges be read as describing or forming the Commission's own strategic priorities.

Some issues may be extremely susceptible to our regulatory action; but others will only be affected by action from other regulators, employers, service providers or government.

Everyone will have part to play in addressing the problems; but we regard it as part of the Commission's role to offer some indication as to where society's combined resources and energy should be targeted.

Follow the links below to the significant challenges identified by the Review.

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