Fire stations sign up to equality targets to boost diversity

Fire stations have signed up to equality targets for the first time to boost the number of female and ethnic minority staff.

The move comes as Metropolitan police officers are due to agree tomorrow a new set of diversity targets to increase the number of ethnic minority people in the workforce from 8.8% to 10% by next year – despite HR director Martin Tiplady previously warning targets were not the sole driver to improve equality.

A report by the Department for Communities and Local Government out yesterday revealed only 5% of the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) workforce was from an ethnic minority background and just 3.3% of the operational workforce was female.

The new targets demand that, by 2013, 15% of all recruits to the operational sector are women – an increase from the 2008 recruitment figure of 9.2% – and that the proportion of ethnic minority staff is representative of the local community. This will vary depending on where the fire station is based.

Fire minister Sadiq Khan said he wanted to see “real change” in recruiting and retaining minorities at fire stations. “While the representation of women and minority ethnic groups has improved in recent years, much remains to be done.

“We should all want to attract the best recruits and not miss out on talent. It is right that the Fire and Rescue Service as a local employer has workforce that is reflective of the local population.”

The government said it would inject £2m into the FRS to ensure these targets were reached.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police Authority is looking to approve new recruitment targets for 2009-10 in a committee meeting tomorrow. It wants 27.4% of the expected police intake of more than 2,000 officers to be of ethnic minority origin, resulting in 10% of the workforce being black or Asian by March 2010. Currently, ethnic minorities make up 8.8% of the Met Police’s workforce.

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