Brent Council’s equality gap highlights nationwide crisis

A damning report into Brent Council’s diversity strategy has highlighted the
struggle local authorities are facing in meeting the Race Relations Amendment
Act (RRAA).

The report, released last week by recruitment consultancy TMP Worldwide,
concludes that Brent Council is totally unrepresentative of the community it
serves at every level of management.

However, an investigation by Personnel Today reveals that Brent is not alone
and many local authorities are failing to reflect the proportion of people from
ethnic backgrounds within their community in their management teams.

The RRAA, which came into force in April 2001, puts a duty on local
authorities to actively promote race equality at all levels within the

The TMP study reveals that only one of Brent’s top 19 senior managers is
black or Asian, but the latest census shows it is one of only two councils in
the UK where people from ethnic minorities in the community outnumber whites.
It also finds the council’s diversity policies do not meet the RRAA.

The study concludes that diversity policies at Brent are a marginalised
‘add-on’ because the council has not given them enough finance or resources.

Brent has accepted the findings that a diversity and HR director must be
appointed to help the council tackle the issue.

Francesca Okosi, the former Brent HR director who commissioned the report,
said she was not surprised by its findings.

She said the report’s aim was to highlight the council’s equalities problems
to help it advance.

Okosi said the council had introduced equality training and mentoring,
shadowing and secondment schemes to increase diversity at senior levels.

"Brent’s employment record speaks for itself – the council is
representative of the community at lower levels – although there is an issue at
a senior management levels," she said.

All seven councils contacted by Personnel Today have a lack of ethnic
representation at senior management level compared to the communities they

By Paul Nelson

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