In September, the PSA attended and presented at the Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation (CLEAR) 2023 Annual Educational Conference in Salt Lake City, USA. CLEAR’s mission is to ‘promote regulatory excellence through conferences, educational programs, webinars, seminars and symposia.’
A predominant theme at this year’s conference was Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). EDI has become an area of increasing focus for a range of organisations in recent years and we noticed that many presentations – like ours – considered it.
Steve Wright, a colleague from our Performance Review team, and I presented on the PSA’s approach to EDI for statutory regulators and Accredited Registers. We started with a discussion on the changes we are making to the statutory regulators’ EDI Standard (Standard Three), which has been in place since 2019. In our most recent assessments, all the regulators met Standard Three. We decided to review this Standard last year and engaged with stakeholders for feedback on our proposed changes, which focused on driving improvement. We also presented on the development of the new EDI Standard (Standard Nine) for the Standards for Accredited Registers. We discussed our approach, the results of the public consultation and the challenges faced in developing a new Standard.
Our presentation was well received and from the discussions with other organisations, it was clear that there is a lot of innovative work in train; however, it was also clear that for many, this journey is just beginning. Similar issues were raised across a range of sectors; one being the collection of data. How do you encourage people to complete EDI data surveys to ensure that any results are meaningful? How do you assure people that this data is going to be used for positive change? What about the safe storage of data and potential legislative barriers to collecting it?
Another theme that emerged was the equity vs equality debate, which examines the difference between everyone having appropriate access based on their needs and circumstances to achieve fair outcomes, and everyone having the same access regardless of differences. This is not something we have particularly focused on in our Standards and it isn’t always part of the conversation when we are discussing EDI. The debate certainly gave us some food for thought; a greater focus on equity is something we should consider in the future.
I also attended presentations on complaints handling, which highlighted the importance of kindness and compassion when handling complaints – not only towards complainants but towards registrants. Terms such as ‘caring regulation’ and ‘compassionate regulation’ were used. Presenters discussed the importance of prevention and having clear and accessible standards so that registrants know what is expected. They also talked about creating ‘compassionate communications’ throughout the process to increase the likelihood of registrants engaging and complying with any sanctions and/or changes to their practice, with the result that they would be less likely to leave the occupation.
There is a lot of innovative work being done to protect the public by regulators from across different countries and sectors. Many are grappling with the same issues, whether that be how to assess EDI or how to implement good practice in complaints handling. The conference was an effective forum for sharing knowledge and good practice; and prompting us to keep thinking about how this applies to our work and the assessments we do.