Who we are

Published: 13 April 2016

Last updated: 17 June 2021

What countries does this apply to?

  • England
  • Scotland
  • Wales

About us

We are an independent statutory body with the responsibility to encourage equality and diversity, eliminate unlawful discrimination, and protect and promote the human rights of everyone in Britain.

We enforce equality legislation on age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation – these are known as protected characteristics.

Britain is fortunate to have a strong equality and human rights legal framework to protect people from discrimination and violations of their basic rights and freedoms. However, the experiences of many people across England, Scotland and Wales often do not reflect what is set out in law.

Our role is to make these rights and freedoms a reality for everyone. We use a range of powers to do so, by providing advice and guidance to individuals, employers and other organisations, reviewing the effectiveness of the law and taking legal enforcement action to clarify the law and address significant breaches of rights.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is:

1. A catalyst for change

Enabling and encouraging improvement by bringing people together to devise solutions, and building capacity in other organisations to help them to effect change. Where appropriate, we conduct inquiries to explore systemic issues, gather evidence and develop possible solutions.

2. An information provider

Helping people understand their rights and responsibilities and improve compliance with the law.

3. An influencer

Using our legal expertise, research, insight and analysis to influence public policy and inform debates.

4. An evaluator

Monitoring the effectiveness of the laws protecting people’s rights to equality and human rights, and measuring progress in society.

5. An enforcer

Using our strategic enforcement powers selectively to protect people against serious and systemic abuses of their rights and to clarify equality and human rights law, alongside our efforts help organisations to comply with equality and human rights standards.

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