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The Power of Words

Power of Words Wordle

Written and spoken words from individuals, groups, public sector organisations and others can make a difference – both for good and evil. 

The words that we see and hear all around us today – in newspapers, online, in conversations – the words that we choose to use, all have an impact upon us and those around us.

Words have a mighty power, articulating in writing or speech what is otherwise unsaid. They can reflect thoughts, views and attitudes, and can also play an active role in shaping them.

Kind words can take on disproportionate power in times of intimidation and insecurity, where some people are discriminated against, victimised and persecuted. Words used to good effect can restore hope, courage or faith. Words can challenge prevailing views and can express solidarity.

Words that are used to ill-effect, when seen or heard, can normalise what might otherwise have been considered too extreme. Harsh words, or words that feed negative stereotypes, can fuel tensions, increase vulnerability and even incite violence.

We cannot and should not be complacent. We see media headlines, listen to politicians talk and have a responsibility to read and listen critically. The words we read and hear have power and can shape our views; how careful are we with the words we ourselves use? Social media bombards us with information and enables words to travel faster and further than ever before; they can be powerfully used to unite people to achieve positive goals but can also be used to whip up prejudice, to build and reinforce negative stereotypes, to intimidate and harass people.

We should always be mindful of the UHB’s Values which include being kind and caring in our dealings with other people and treating them and speaking to them with dignity and respect.

Words have the power to both heal and hurt – use them wisely!

The glossary below sets out to explain the meaning of some of the common words and phrases we use when talking about equality.


Glossary of Terms


Adverse Impact

This is a significant difference in patterns of representation or outcomes between equalities groups, with the difference amounting to a detriment for one or more equalities groups.

Differential Impact

Suggests that a particular group has been affected differently by a policy, in either a positive, or negative way.

Definition of Disability

The Equality Act 2010 defines Disability as being:

“An impairment, which has a substantial, long term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.”


Direct Discrimination

Treating people less favourably than others e.g. on the grounds of age, disability, gender, race, religion and belief, sexual orientation.

Indirect Discrimination

Applying a provision, criterion or practice that disadvantages people e.g. on the grounds of age, disability, gender, race, religion and belief, sexual orientation, and that can’t be justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. The concept of 'provision, criterion or practice' covers the way in which an intention or policy is actually carried out, and includes attitudes and behaviour that could amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and stereotyping. To find discrimination it will be sufficient to show that a practice is likely to affect the group in question adversely.


This is defined as how differences between people are harnessed to drive forward creativity and excellence in performance. In the workplace this means recognising individual and group differences, which means more creativity and continuous improvement.

Ethnic monitoring

A process for collecting, storing and analysing data about individuals' ethnic or racial background and linking this data and analysis with planning and implementing policies.


The term function is intended to encompass the full range of the UHB’s duties and powers, which includes clinical and corporate services and departments.


This is unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of creating a negative or offensive environment for a complainant, or violating the complainant’s dignity  or treating a person less favourably than another person because they have either submitted to, or did not submit to, sexual harassment or harassment related to sex or gender identity.


The term policy means the full range of formal and informal decisions made in carrying out a function or delivering a particular service. Policies may take the form of a clear written statement, or may be implicit in management decisions or “custom” and “practice”. Policies may also take the form of a strategy or action plan.

Qualitative data

Information gathered from individuals about their experiences. Qualitative data usually gives less emphasis to statistics.

Quantitative data

Statistical information in the form of numbers normally derived from a population in general or samples of that population. This information is often analysed using descriptive statistics, which consider general profile distributions and trends in the data, or using inferential statistics, which are used to determine significance within relationships of differences in the data.


Under the Equality Act it is unlawful to discriminate against anyone on grounds of race, colour, nationality, including citizenship or ethnic or national origin inclusive of Gypsy, Romani and Traveller Communities.

Reasonableness, Proportionality and Relevance

These require a professional analysis and judgement that takes account of statutory requirements alongside legal guidance plus the factors listed in section one. In terms of the legislation, relevant means ‘having implications for, or affecting, the promotion of equality’. The UHB has broadened this to include all areas of antidiscrimination law, such that relevance refers to ‘having negative implications for or affecting people from any equality target group mentioned throughout the EHIA.

Religion, belief & non belief Religion

Religious groups cover a wide range of groupings the most of which are Buddhist, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and Sikhs. Consider these categories individually and collectively when considering impacts.

Trans communities

There is no universal experience of being Trans. The Trans community is sometimes characterised as being individuals who wish to transition from one gender to another. In reality, the wide spectrum of gender identity is more complicated. Increasingly, people feel more comfortable openly expressing and identifying themselves in other ways than simply male or female.

Within our documents Trans is used as an umbrella term for people whose identity differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. People under the Trans umbrella may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms including transgender.

Stonewall's website provides further, more detailed information. 


This takes place where one person treats another less favourably because he or she has asserted their legal rights in line with the Act or helped someone else to do so.






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