Council overhaul to get its ethnic staff on board

Newham Council is set to radically overhaul its race relations policies in a
bid to increase its number of senior ethnic minority staff.

The London authority is one of just two councils with a non-white majority,
but despite this, only a third of Newham’s 700 staff and 12 per cent of its
senior managers are non-white and the council has no non-whites on the main

Newham plans to increase diversity by using management secondment schemes,
work-shadowing, a new assessment centre and basic skills training for ethnic

Simon McDonald, assistant chief executive (HR strategy and corporate
development) at Newham Council, said it is important it looks at developing its
existing workforce.

"The key is giving ethnic staff management experience," he said.
"A lot of people find they can’t break into management as they don’t have

Newham is running six-month management secondments for ethnic minority
staff, which include training in core management skills and experience running
a team.

"This way [non-white staff] are equipped to move into management
positions in an open competition with everyone else."

The Race Relations Amendment Act (RRAA) – which came into force in April
2001 – puts a duty on all public bodies to actively promote race equalities at
all levels of the workforce, and McDonald said the council will introduce a new
management charter that focuses on promoting diversity.

Brent Council, the only other council with a non-white majority population,
is also struggling to comply with the RRAA because of marginalised diversity
policies (News, 18 February).

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