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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Warsaw. Without religious symbols on the walls, the language of employees must be equal. New standards in the town hall

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The Mayor of Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski, signed an ordinance regarding standards of equal treatment in the capital city hall. This is an internal document and applies to people working at the city hall. It specifies, among other things, a ban on displaying religious symbols on desks or walls, and obliges employees to use equality language.

“Gazeta Stołeczna” was the first to notice the order of the mayor of Warsaw on this matter. The document introduces “Standards of equal treatment in the Warsaw City Hall”. They arise from the city's social diversity policywhich the capital's councilors adopted in October 2022.

Equal treatment for all

“These standards will strengthen efforts to promote equal opportunities and equal access to city services and resources for all residents of Warsaw,” we read in the president's order of May 8, 2024.

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It is an internal document of the office, addressed to people working there. It concerns the conditions that should be met so that the principle of equal treatment is maintained in the implementation of municipal tasks. It is not only about the relationship between the official and the person using the office's services, but also about the relationship between employees.

The standards are to be applied in the areas of: employees' attitudes, their knowledge and skills, regulations and compliance with procedures and guidelines. The document also defines the area of ​​the so-called inclusive design. The idea is to make the services provided by the office available to everyone, regardless of their individual characteristics. There are also standards defining the principles of monitoring and evaluating equal treatment.

Secular nature of the office

The adopted standards include: those relating to religious neutrality. “In office buildings accessible to outsiders and during events organized by the office, no symbols related to a specific religion or denomination are displayed in the space (e.g. on walls, on desks),” we read in the document. It is further noted that this does not apply to religious symbols worn by office employees, e.g. medallions, crosses or tattoos.

In addition, all events organized by the office must be secular in nature.

Language is important

Great emphasis was placed on the use of equality language, i.e. language that “recognizes and takes into account social diversity”. A person working in an office should take into account the requests of people who want to be addressed in a specific way. “In the case of a transgender person whose appearance may differ from stereotypical ideas related to the gender recorded in official documents, address him or her with the name or gender pronouns that he or she indicates,” the document states.

There are also recommendations that should be applied to non-binary people. “Although they must provide data in official forms in accordance with the documents they use, there is no reason why, in direct communication with them, we cannot use forms that they feel comfortable with, even if they are non-standard,” the guidelines emphasize.

Office employees should not use expressions such as: victim of violence, disabled person or mentally ill. Instead, use: a person experiencing violence, a person with a disability, a person in a mental health crisis. The document encourages them to use feminative and gender-neutral terms, e.g. people living in Warsaw, instead of residents.

The official must be flexible

The standards state that an official must follow specific procedures and regulations, but should avoid routine actions and be flexible. A good example is a situation in which we are dealing with an architectural barrier (high stairs, no elevator). If a person visiting the office has problems with walking, the official should go down to the ground floor and find a place where he can talk about the matter he came to talk about.

Attention was also paid to the issues of same-sex relationships, e.g. those raising children together. “A person may authorize a same-sex partner to collect documents on his or her behalf or to contact the school, psychological and pedagogical counseling center or other institution regarding the child,” it was emphasized.

The document notes that people working in the office have access to educational materials and e-learning training on equal treatment and respect for diversity. Compulsory training is also organized. Employees are encouraged to constantly improve their knowledge and competences in the field of equal treatment policy.

The document, which is an annex to the order of the President of Warsaw, is available in the Public Information Bulletin of the capital city hall. The standards are to be updated as needed, but at least once every two years.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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