Letters of the week: Met looks beyond diversity targets

I write in response to Dr Binna Kandola’s article, "Target-setting misses the point on diversity", (Opinion, 19 September)

The article is welcomed by the Metropolitan Police (MPS) as a clear endorsement of the strategy put in place by the organisation to address the complex issue of attracting, recruiting and retaining employees from traditionally under-represented groups.

Our Positive Action Team (PAT) has lead responsibility in this area. Over the past year the organisation has taken the PAT strategy significantly beyond the much-talked about targets.

Our approach not only acknowledges but also seeks to address the impact particular external and internal factors have on our image and on our efforts to recruit a diverse workforce.

Our strategy is multi-faceted and multi-dimensional, recognising that targets alone will not bring about the changes in issues a forward-looking service needs to address. It acknowledges the need to support staff, to create opportunities for all groups to be involved in the change process, to facilitate cultural change to eradicate negative perceptions and beliefs held by the range of stakeholders, and to improve and foster an environment underpinned by our values of respect, partnership and continuous improvement.

Far from being "quick fixes" this, as Dr Kandola testifies, will take time. It will be a period during which we well recognise the detrimental effects negative press will have, not only on our recruitment process, but also on the morale and general well-being of existing staff and ultimately on the communities we serve.

The MPS is more focused and committed than ever to its agenda. It recognises the benefits of having a representative workforce and it understands what it has to do to retain that workforce. Ultimately, it is involved because it is morally right to do so – and if the targets help us keep our eye on the prize, they too are to be welcomed.

Denise Milani Head of Positive Action Team Metropolitan Police


Shorter working day, shorter life

So the great debate smoulders on. They are bad people, these smokers, always nipping out for a sly cigarette, leaving their phones for all and sundry to answer.

How dare they. No one else has time away from their desk. You won’t find anyone else having a chat for 10 minutes or making their third cup of coffee in an hour or reading a newspaper, will you?

How do you measure the time a smoker spends away from their desk? Who keeps tabs on them?

Perhaps we need pressure pads on our keyboards, phones and chairs. As soon as we stop typing, put our phone down or get off our chair, a clock starts. Big Brother is timing you.

Anyway, since when did people start feeling jealous of those who can’t go for three hours without inhaling a plethora of toxic gas? What an advantage they have over the rest of the working population. Have we forgotten that although it takes about three minutes to have a cigarette, it takes between five and seven minutes off your life?

So that’s it – not only are they after a shorter working day, they’re after a shorter working life. It’s not fair.

It’s a free country. Anyone who would like to join me outside in the rain and cold and wind is most welcome. Trust me, there is no advantage to being a smoker – your clothes smell, your fingers go yellow, your teeth get stained, and, of course, it kills you – but if it makes anyone happy, I’ll work an extra six minutes when everyone else has gone home. Besides, I could always nip out for a fag.

James Carter Address supplied


Smoke – but do it in your own time

I have read with interest the coverage of the precedent set by Tower Hamlets’ smoking policy.

We have had a smoking ban for over four years and have always required smokers to make up time lost in taking smoking breaks. Our policy states that "any person wishing to smoke must do so out of core time and must key/book themselves out of the flexi-system before doing so. Where flexi-time is not in operation, smoking must be restricted to authorised breaks (ie, meal breaks)."

This was based on experience gained by our predecessor councils in the early 1990s when smoking was first restricted in the workplace. We have had little difficulty with this policy and most staff see it as being fair.

Denise Whitworth Head of personnel services Moray Council

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