Audit Commission adds value through diversity

The Audit Commission has introduced a raft of new measures to help improve
diversity at the organisation, following the formation of its Ethnic Network
Relations Group.

The network, set up in 2000 and launched last September, spans the entire
organisation and is designed to provide a forum for diversity issues, to
support individuals and help share experience.

Gurbinder Bahra, training and management consultant at the commission,
believes the network has devolved responsibility for diversity away from HR to
managers and staff. "If a policy is standalone or owned by a department
like HR it won’t work – it won’t spread though an organisation," he said.

ENRG, which has spawned sub-groups representing christians, asians, gays and
lesbians, drew up a 90-day plan to identify diversity priorities.

As a result of the network’s recommendation, the commission has broken with
tradition, allowing staff to use Christmas as an extra day’s leave known as a
‘faith day’, which can be taken at any time.

The reforms also include a prayer room for muslims and a faith calendar,
which is issued to all staff to help encourage understanding and appreciation
of different religions.

"Some of these measures are free to an organisation, but they add so
much value for the individual," said Bahra, speaking at a seminar on
diversity organised by Bartlett Scott Edgar.

The network has also led to the introduction of a mentoring scheme that will
see minority staff tutored by senior staff.

The programme aims to get more under-represented groups into senior
positions.

By Ross Wigham

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