The EQUAL Community Initiative operated from 2001 until December 2007, and was co-financed by the EU through the European Social Fund (ESF). Its aim was to address discrimination and inequality in the labour market through developing innovative new policies and practices. The Initiative focused on individuals and groups that experience discrimination and inequalities for various reasons – for example, as a result of disability, ethnic origin or age – and targeted these individuals and groups with the aim of easing their entry into and progression within the labour market.
In Ireland, EQUAL received a total of €34 million from the ESF. This money was used to establish 43 projects that aimed to address various aspects of discrimination and inequality in the labour market.
DHR Communications worked with the EQUAL Initiative in Ireland for the final phase of the project. The aim of our engagement was to promote the outcomes of the Initiative and provide event management and media relations support for a number of key events in its closing months. A large part of our work with EQUAL involved reviewing complex reports and statistics, documenting the outcomes of the project – with a significant focus on workplace innovations – and presenting these in an accessible manner to the media, politicians and the general public. Because the Initiative was funded under the ESF – and overseen in Ireland by the (then) Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment – our work involved close liaison with a range of high-level civil servants, and the production of reports, on behalf of EQUAL, demonstrating the accountability and effectiveness of the project.
In relation to events, in addition to a briefing for MEPs in Brussels and a policy-focused seminar, DHR Communications organised a showcasing conference on behalf of EQUAL, which took place at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin in October 2007. The conference examined how service-providers – such as job support agencies and social welfare services – could better respond to the needs of jobseekers experiencing inequality. It also looked at the barriers faced by employers when recruiting migrant workers or people with disabilities.
In addition to the main conference, a showcase of projects funded under the EQUAL Initiative was included in this event. In total, 22 projects – from different parts of the country and focusing on different aspects of discrimination and inequality – showcased their work, including the Emerge Project, which had successfully supported immigrant entrepreneurs in establishing their own businesses; the ‘You’re Equal’ project, which supported ex-prisoners into training, education and employment; and the LIFT Project, which supported the promotion of women within the trade union movement.
DHR Communications managed the logistical arrangements for this event and assisted EQUAL in the procurement of appropriate speakers, including Peter Cassells, who chaired the conference, and the then Minister of State for Innovation Policy, Michael Ahern TD, who delivered a keynote address. Arthur Coldrick, Chairperson of the Performance Verification Group for the Local Government Sector, also participated in the event. A round-table format was devised for the main sessions at the event to facilitate group discussions and promote interaction between delegates.
DHR Communications managed the media strategy for the event, including developing all press materials and making targeted pitches to relevant journalists in advance of the event. On a more general level, we worked to ensure all of the partners in the EQUAL Initiative were visible through branded materials at the event – this was particularly important due to the high levels of public funding secured by the individual projects and the Initiative in Ireland overall.
For the showcasing element, each participating project was assigned a space in which to display their findings and work. Set-up of these showcasing spaces was supervised on the eve of the conference by DHR Communications. On arrival, the Minister of State undertook a ‘tour’ of all of the showcasing stands, and was photographed with project participants at each. In the aftermath of the conference, these photographs – with specially tailored local press releases – were distributed by DHR Communications to the relevant local media outlets, resulting in significant volumes of local media coverage, in addition to the coverage achieved at national level.
Further information about the EQUAL Community Initiative is available here.
Feedback from those involved in the EQUAL Community Initiative showcase conference, and in other events organised by DHR Communications on behalf of our clients, is available here.