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Published: 26 Sep 2017

About the Wainwright Trust

The Wainwright Trust was set up in 1987 to commemorate the life and work of equal opportunities pioneer David Wainwright, whose untimely death that year left a major gap in the provision of the expertise, drive and understanding necessary to bring about positive change in the area. Originally only concerned with race and gender, the Trust’s remit was extended in 2002 to cover all strands of workplace discrimination.

It began by awarding travel grants, one of which resulted in its first publication – a review of equal opportunities in the US police, undertaken by Zsuzsanna Adler of the Police Staff College in Bramshill and published in 1990 with the title A Fairer Cop. Subsequently, in collaboration with the Foundation for Management Education, the African and Caribbean Finance Forum and the Windsor Fellowship, the Trust commissioned research to examine the incidence, experience and management development needs of African-Caribbean people aspiring to management jobs. This was published in 1997 as The Cement Roof.

The same year saw the publication of a report on the impact on equal opportunities policies and practices of the trend towards devolution and decentralisation in both the public and private sectors. Commissioned by the Trust, this was undertaken by Judith Foreman and Rachel Bedingfield of Bradford and Ilkley Community College and Mary Coussey of the Judge Institute, Cambridge. Soon afterwards, another independent study was commissioned, this time from Jeanne Gregory of Middlesex University into how employers do – and should – cope with the aftermath of tribunal cases, in particular following complaints of harassment; the resulting report, Picking up the Pieces, was published in 2002.

Other initiatives have included sponsoring a Parents at Work (now Working Families) publication, UK Employer Initiatives, on family friendly and equal opportunities policies; co-sponsoring an Open University seminar to encourage minority ethnic business graduates to apply to become OU tutors; and, uniquely and importantly, with financial support from the Nuffield Foundation, creating and running a two-year training programme for those engaged in equal value work, culminating in an Equal Value Training Manual.

To celebrate the Trust’s 10th anniversary an annual event was inaugurated, the first two taking the form of lectures given respectively by Baronesses Usha Prashar and Valerie Amos, and thereafter a ‘brains trust’, featuring notable panellists from the world of employment – including directors, trade unionists and labour lawyers, and chaired among others by Janet Street-Porter, Baroness Helena Kennedy, Sue McGregor, Moira Stewart, Dame Jenni Murray, René Carayol and Katharine Whitehorn. For its 20th anniversary the Trust commissioned a play from the Garnett Foundation (Twenty Years’ Hard Labour by Amanda Osborne), which was performed at Sadlers Wells in June 2007. And for its 25th the Trust conducted an informal ‘state of the nation’ review culminating in the report A Quarter Century of Equality and Diversity: What’s Changed and What Hasn’t (2012); these findings were ably amplified at the anniversary event by Professor Linda Dickens with her own more positive picture of 25 years of changes for women in the workplace.  Dame Doreen Lawrence also contributed to the panel session that evening.

Apart from its annual events, perhaps the initiative for which the Trust is best known is its Breakthrough Award launched in 1999 to celebrate the unsung heroes and heroines of equal opportunities in the workplace. Some years the recipient came through a competitive process, but the Trust has also made special awards to people whom they regard as having made a very special contribution, often without widespread recognition.

The Trust has also made two major donations in the last decade. The first enabled the TUC to pilot a series of professionally-filmed interviews of those involved in key equal pay cases, including several whose success was directly attributable to David Wainwright’s support and work. As a result of the pilot films, the TUC was able to obtain funding for an Equal Pay Archive, to provide a lasting record of these important events. The second was to Working Families to enable it to establish an online library of best practice case studies, in order that current and future generations can continue to be inspired by and benefit from the kinds of innovative solutions David found and implemented; the Trust hopes this will prove an invaluable resource as well as perpetuating the Wainwright name.