Human Rights & Equality Policy

Visual Artists Ireland is committed to eliminating discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and protect the human rights of staff and persons that it engages with in the delivery of its services.  VAI policies, procedures and practise are directed towards inclusion and understanding and comply with the Employment Equality Acts 1998 and 2004, Equal Status Act 2000 and the Irish Human Rights & Equality Act 2014. VAI retains the services of an outside agency to ensure that we are informed of obligations and changes to legislation, which are reflected in updates to our policies and procedures.

Our Commitments


VAI provides equality of opportunity for all job applicants or employees irrespective of gender, marital / civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religious belief, age, disability, race, colour, nationality or ethnic or national origin, membership of the travelling community.

The aim of the policy is to promote equality of opportunity for job applicants and employees and operate on the basis of abilities, merits, qualifications and the potential of the individual.

VAI ensures that through its recruitment and selection procedures, it provides equality in opportunities for employment.

VAI is committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all employees in career development, training, promoting and re-grading.

VAI monitors and reviews employment policies and practices to ensure that they do not, directly or indirectly, discriminate unfairly against individual members or staff or particular groups of employees.


Implementing equal opportunities for job applicants and employees is a continuing process that needs to be kept under constant review.  The process involves devising codes of practice; establishing procedures; describing good practice and setting goals to ensure that the momentum of implementation is maintained.

VAI consults with staff where appropriate and practicable, on issues relating to equal opportunities policies.

VAI ensures that, as far as is reasonably practicable, employees and applicants for employment are informed of this policy and as appropriate, any associated procedures and action programmes.

VAI provides appropriate equal opportunities training for all employees.

VAI encourages the promotion of a working, learning and social environment where all employees work positively and harmoniously together.  VAI is committed to ensuring that the work environment should give all employees the freedom to do their work without having to suffer bullying or intimidation from manager, supervisor, colleague or group of colleagues.

VAI is committed to facilitating the effective development of staff potential through access and participation in higher and further education and training programmes.

This policy is communicated to all private contractors reminding them of their responsibilities towards the equality of opportunity.

Promotion and advancement is made on merit and all decisions relating to this are made within the overall framework and principles of this policy.

Job descriptions ensure that they are in line with our equal opportunities policy.  Job requirements are reflected accurately in any personnel specifications.

We have a consistent, non-discriminatory approach to the advertising of vacancies.

Dignity at Work Charter / Bullying

We at Visual Artists Ireland commit ourselves to working together to maintain a workplace environment that encourages and supports the right to dignity at work.  All who work here are expected to respect the right of each individual to dignity in their working life.  All are treated equally and respected for their individuality and diversity.  Bullying in any form is not accepted by us and will not be tolerated.  All individuals whether employed by us or contracted by us have a duty and a responsibility to uphold this dignity at work charter.

VAI acknowledges the right of all employees to a workplace and environment free from any form of bullying. Every member of staff has an obligation to be aware of the effects of their own behaviour on others.

Any instances of bullying will be dealt with in an effective and efficient manner. In cases where the behaviour is proved to be repeated and consistent, causing unnecessary stress and anxiety, this will be considered gross misconduct.

As part of VAI’s code of conduct, it is imperative that all staff and suppliers respect the dignity of every colleague. Please consider the multi-cultural beliefs of all of your colleagues regarding your code of conduct, with particular reference to remarks, dress code, posters, e-mails and anything which may cause offence on the grounds of a person’s gender, marital/civil status, race, religion, family status, age, sexual orientation or disability or to a member of the traveller community.

In the workplace is repeated inappropriate behaviour, direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, conducted by one or more persons against another or others, at the place of work and/or in the course of employment, which could be regarded as undermining the individual’s right to dignity at work.

We deplore all forms of personal or sexual harassment and bullying and seek to ensure that the working environment is sympathetic to all our employees. The workplace environment is not confined to the business premises or normal working day and extends to conferences, external training, and work related social events.

Membership & Service Users

Visual Artists Ireland is dedicated to the care and respect for our membership and services users in their professional lives.  To this end VAI respects diversity and promoting and protecting peoples’ rights in order to ensure that any barriers to dignity are addressed and protections put in place.

Serving Visual Artists is the reason for our existence.  VAI is committed to meaningful participation and inclusion, in particular those members feeling isolated due to lack of access and accessibility through advocacy, support and publishing.

In keeping with our internal policies concerning Human Dignity and Equality, we provide our services without discrimination. This includes, but not exclusive to:

  • Gender Identity
  • Civil status: single, married, divorced, etc.
  • Family status: if you’re the parent or person responsible for a child over 18, or if you’re the main carer or parent of a person with a disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Race
  • Being a member of the traveling community.
  • Environmental Justice:

Visual Artists Ireland recognises the right to a clean, safe and sustained environment.  It recognises the environmental impacts that our activities can cause and the urgent necessity to adopt sustainable solutions and provide for a sustainable future.


A review of this policy will be carried out at two yearly intervals in order to ensure that this policy statement is in line with best practice and legal provisions then current.


This version of our policy represents an extract from our overarching policies and procedures documents which are subject to regular updating by our third party agency who work with our Office Manager to ensure compliance and that this and all VAI policies are actively followed in all of our work.

  • EDI awareness and initiatives are embedded within organisational culture, ensuring alignment between an organisation’s communicated messages and intentions, and actual practice. (Strategy, Program Plans, Status Reporting & Measurements)
  • We involve all levels of staff in the implementation of EDI interventions, with strong and demonstrable commitment and support for staff directly involved in overseeing and evaluating interventions. (Dept Plans & Status Reporting)
  • Our actions are clearly defined (for example, clear agendas and outcomes for training programmes, detailed records of new policies and how to go about implementing them, etc.) (Program Plans)
  • We are actively researching a clear framework or approach for reporting evaluations of EDI interventions and wish to include this within our centralised record of evaluations. (Impact Measurement)
  • We use qualitative data and mixed method approaches to address limitations of quantitative methods (such as issues surrounding small sample sizes, greater detail regarding how and why an intervention was effective, etc.).
  • We measure outcomes in multiple ways to gain a full picture of our impact.
  • We wish to add other protected characteristics, sociodemographic factors and context when collecting data and examining the impact of an EDI and other interventions (as this will allow the influence of these to be taken into account statistically and the adoption of an intersectional lens).
  • At regular weekly meetings, we reflect on the limitations and opportunities around identity categories and when necessary consult with experts on both national and cross-national understanding and preferences.
  • We welcome and foster collaboration within and between organisations to improve issues surrounding limited resources, methodological issues, duplication of work and sharing of good practice.

Conspiracy Theories & The Rise of Extremism.

It is unfortunate that, as a result of the general unrest and significant mental health challenges combined with insecurities experienced by society as a result of COVID and the rise of the populist view, that VAI and its members also face challenges and accusations that are promulgated by individuals and/or groups who believe themselves victims of  perceived injustice.

“Conspiracy theories are a global phenomenon affecting almost every field of human activity. The belief that complex historical or political events, especially when they lack a clear explanation by the competent authorities or by the scientific community, are the result of secret conspiracies controlled by a small cabal of powerful people with malevolent intents has become a mainstream phenomenon in society. Such theories can be seen as attempts to give meaning to distressing events, to disclose their ultimate causes, and to connect the dots with what one may perceive as anomalous, suspicious or unexplained. In some cases, they are harmless and can be considered as part of the democratic discussion. In many other cases, however, conspiracy theories may be associated with radical behaviour, racist views, authoritarian attitudes and extremist ideologies with a deeply negative impact on society. Amongst the most serious consequences is the fact that conspiracy theories may enhance the appeal of extremist narratives (e.g. providing seductive “black and white” explanations of polarising events), erode the trust between people and governments (e.g. promoting the idea that governments are controlled by shadow elites), spread hate speech (e.g. identifying a definitive group or person as being culpable), demolish the respect for evidence (e.g. attacking experts and their knowledge without having the necessary competence to perform verifications), mobilise violence (e.g. identifying targets), and even cause death (e.g. inducing people to refuse vaccine protection through the antivaxxer propaganda).

COVID-19 as a catalyst
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst for conspiracy theories. Given that the virus is invisible, corresponding conspiracy beliefs flourished, as in every period of crisis. Extremist groups capitalised on the opportunity by offering simple solutions and answers to highly complex issues with the aim to advance their agendas and recruit followers. In this scenario, right-wing extremist groups played a major role in spreading hatred towards Jews and Muslims as well as anti-elite, racist and anti-immigration sentiments. The frequency with which these conspiracy theories keep appearing in extremist scenes suggests that they can play an important ideological role and function as a multiplier in the process of radicalisation.” European Commission – Conspiracy theories and right-wing extremism

To address and attempt to counteract this form of thinking, VAI adopts critical thinking and open-mindedness as well as fact and logic-based interventions. To achieve this VAI ensures that its work is informed by the following principles:

Trusted messengers: VAI’s non-partisan message is clear and unambiguous. It does not undertake personal missions in any form, and provides evidence of this through its actions in guiding artists, providing verifiable information, and offering opinion based on researched fact.

Show empathy: we attempt to understand where insecurity and “conspiracy” comes from, and where possible, will help to develop open-mindedness based on clear facts.

Affirm critical thinking: capitalising on the perception that conspiracy theorists have that they are critical thinkers to redirect their approach towards more reliable sources and analysis.

Avoid ridicule: ridiculing arguments or aggressively deconstructing a conspiracy theory does not work with individuals who are highly committed to conspiracy theories. This could produce a backfire effect and is avoided.



Extracted Version – 01 July 2022

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