This week’s letters

Equality must be driven from top

I read the article ‘Public sector leaders fail to achieve equality targets’
(News, 4 June) with interest.

Councils were at the forefront of best practice on diversity in the 1980s
and 1990s. However, equality issues and policies were then sidelined, as they
were seen as being political correctness gone mad that did not add value to the

The Race Relations (Amendment) Act will put equality firmly back on the
agenda and local authorities will have to invest in equality proofing their
policies, procedures and systems.

Ealing Council has recognised that these changes need to be drivers from the
top. I have just been appointed executive director for diversity and talent.

I am a member of the corporate board with responsibility for driving
diversity in employment and service delivery. This is a unique post that gives
a very strong and positive message of the value of diversity.

We have also just launched our race equality scheme. I agree with Francesca
Okosi, president of Socpo, that leadership is the key. The agenda must be
driven from the top but we also need to make people accountable for delivering
on diversity. Local authorities affect the lives of ordinary people in the
provision of basic services. It is critical that these are delivered to meet
the needs of a diverse community without unfair discrimination.

Minna Nathoo
Executive director of diversity and talent, Ealing Council

A dog for life, but not an employer

Jonas Ridderstrale’s belief that if you can love a pet, you can love your employer,
confused Michael Keating (Letters, 11 June). He didn’t know whether to laugh or

A dog by the name of Ash came to stay with me six years ago. In that time, I
have worked for three different companies. While the dog may be for life,
employers rarely are.

This does not mean a relationship above that of a commercial one cannot
exist between employer and employee. When the concept of a job for life died,
some organisations with strategic HR functions recognised the need to replace
the old relationship with a new one. Out went a life of serfdom with a carriage
clock as a leaving present and in came concepts such as continuous development,
personal growth through coaching, mutual respect and so on.

When I look back at my last four employment relationships I regard two of
them as fondly as a cat that lived with me 10 years ago. However, the other two
are more akin to my relationships with girlfriends as a teenager – I thought
the relationship was going somewhere but they never kept their end of the
bargain and eventually we parted somewhat acrimoniously, both blaming the

Strategic HR is about developing the relationship between the people that
make the business work and the other stakeholders. It is not about blind
teenage puppy love, but it must go deeper than a simple commercial relationship
or it will fail.

Companies who rushed to outsource in the last few years have found to their
cost that a simple commercial relationship is not sufficient to ride out the
inevitable storms that strike any corporate venture.

If your people are more concerned with their own worth in the labour market
than keeping the business afloat, they will take to the lifeboat at the first
sign of trouble.

David Pepper
(currently looking for new employment relationship, or goldfish)
Via e-mail

Wimbledon fever is just not on

The approach of companies to the World Cup is further evidence of reasons
why there are so few women reaching the top level of management in Britain.

It is clear evidence of a male-orientated work culture that will take years
to break. There are more women in the workplace than men and not all are
interested in the World Cup. I look forward to workplace bosses allowing staff
time off to watch other events on television, for example, when Tim Henman
plays the Wimbledon semi-finals or the Chelsea Flower Show, but then again
these are not activities that male bosses are likely to want to watch. Equality
in the workplace seems a long way off.

Nigel Hunt MCIPD
Via e-mail

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