Personnel Today Awards 2019: Financial Services Compensation Scheme achieves public sector D&I award

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme collect their 2019 award from sponsor Civica.

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme scooped the Diversity & Inclusion (Public Sector) Award, sponsored by Civica, at the 2019 Personnel Today Awards for improving BAME representation at management level and increasing the proportion of women in their leadership team. We profile their entry and those of our other finalists.


Financial Services Compensation Scheme

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) us an independent organisation that helps customers get back on track when authorised financial services firms fail. Since its launch in 2001 it has paid out billions in compensation. The organisation wanted to deliver a better customer experience, respond to rising customer expectations and also reflect the communities it serves.

In November 2018 it launched ‘FSCS into the 2020s – Protecting the Future’. To deliver on this strategy, it needed a diverse and inclusive workplace. At the same time, UK demographics impacted its talent pool: one in three workers are likely to be over 50 by 2020; by 2030, 50% of all adults in the UK would be over 50. FSCS also wanted to improve gender, BAME and LGBT representation.

FSCS was one of the founding signatories of Business in the Community’s Race at Work charter and has increased the number of BAME managers to 17% this year, while almost a third of employees now come from BAME backgrounds. On gender, 35% of leaders are women, including 27% of the board, while the gender pay gap has been reduced. The organisation is committed to recruiting, retraining and retaining older workers and has introduced a knowledge transfer process for those leaving the organisation.

This inclusive approach has helped it to take 100 days out of the end-to-end claim process; 95% of claims are processed within our agreed timescales; it has reduced the cost of claims processing by 23%; customer satisfaction is at a record 83% (compared with 59% in 2017). In addition, a third of claims are now resolved within five days, and 95% of staff believe FSCS is making a difference.


Civil Service Fast Stream & Early Talent

Approximately 700,000 people in the UK have autism and yet just 16% of autistic adults are in full time paid employment. The Civil Service introduced a ground-breaking Autism Exchange Internship Programme as a way of addressing this loss of potential and talent. The programme aimed to support those on the autism spectrum through providing work experience, skills events, coaching and other interventions.

The internship experience was shaped to support and develop students between the ages of 16 and 25 through a number of routes. As well as helping to develop skills and a familiarity with the work environment, there were practical workshops looking at selection and networking and increased awareness through training and promotion of a neuro-diverse philosophy across the organisation.

Participants received three weeks’ work experience within a department, tailored to individual needs. They also received psychometric profiles of their behavioural styles so they could develop self-awareness of how they learn and develop. Departmental support has increased from 11 hosts in 2018 to 18 this year. The number of interns has also risen, from 19 to 34. The Civil Service worked with Ambitious about Autism, a specialist agency, to support the programme.

Eighty-four per cent of participants have achieved a job role, placement or study opportunity (either inside or outside the Civil Service) since the programme. This compares favourably to the national average of 16% employment for those on the autism spectrum. A number of key employers have followed suit by offering similar programmes.


L&Q is a charitable housing association and developer with an ambition to tackle the housing crisis by building 100,000 new homes over the next 10 years. It believes that employing a diverse range of people can help it deliver on this mission.

As part of this diversity push, L&Q wants to achieve 50% female workforce at senior level by 2025. It has also adopted the ‘Rooney rule’ that ensures it interviews at least one BAME candidate and one female candidate when recruiting for leadership positions. Flexible working is encouraged, and 100% of requests were granted in 2017/18. There are D&I champions at group board and executive group levels, and all senior leaders are held accountable for promoting gender equality.

All line managers must attend equality and diversity training which covers: unconscious bias; best practice in challenging non-inclusive behaviours; career conversations for women and enabling women to see lateral and promotion opportunities. They are also coached in dealing with flexible working requests and how the appraisal process fits in with L&Q’s values. It was the first housing employer to publish ethnicity pay figures and employee network Kaleidoscope is committed to closing the BAME pay gap – with representatives joining interview panels, helping with recruitment screening and supporting HR with attraction.

Other successful initiatives include building awareness of careers in construction with schools, mandatory unconscious bias training and reverse mentoring. Diversity is now one of the highest ranking categories for L&Q in the annual Great Place to Work survey, and the number of women being promoted has gone up from 45% to 61%. Its gender pay gap decreased from 9.5% to 7.6% between 2016/17 and 2017/18 and representation in the senior leadership team is now 31% women.

Network Rail

Network Rail wanted to become a more inclusive employer by promoting the welfare and safety of its workforce. Despite investing more in the railways since the Victorian era, some worksite welfare facilities remained positively stone age; often inadequate and sometimes non-existent. Network Rail wanted to ensure everyone working trackside had access to welfare facilities such as toilets and life-saving equipment. Comments such as ‘It’s ok for the guys to go behind a tree but it’s not ok for us girls’ made for clear feedback on what could be improved.

The company worked with key supplier Selectequip who collaborated with the Track Safety Alliance to develop, design and deploy a new inclusive welfare facility to address these issues. Track workers were involved throughout the project; a caption competition at the Track Front Line Workers Conference validated the scale of the problem and progress was shared at Rail Live. Site walkouts, inspections, focus groups, social media campaigns and employee networks were used to shape requirements and build engagement.

The result was the Mobile Expandable Wellbeing Unit (MEWU) – these eight-foot high units are bright orange with phosphorescent banding that generates light to maximise visibility, and recharge during the day. The units are portable, so they can be located within two minutes of the workforce, even at complex locations like embankments or near overhead lines. There is space for a full SOS station, including a defibrillator and stretcher, alongside kits for first-aid, burns, eyewash and spills.

Network Rail argues that providing more inclusive facilities supports its diversity and inclusion strategy and helps it to attract more women into the industry. Talking more about welfare in general can help employees have better conversations around hidden disabilities such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease, it says. Incidences of slips, trips and falls have reduced and there are early signs that performance metrics such as delay minutes are improving. Engagement has also increased across key age and gender demographics.

NHS Business Services Authority

The NHSBSA is a complex, national organisation with a diverse portfolio of services and customers. It realised there was a strong legal and moral case to include more people with disabilities in the workplace, and looked at a range of initiatives to make the organisation more disability friendly, both from an employment and a customer perspective.This would also mean making recruitment processes more inclusive, for example by making job adverts more accessible, removing unnecessary language which could create a barrier and using plain English to improve readability.

A number of measures now make up the Pathways to Work programme – there is one for disabilities and one for veterans. On the disability side, NHSBSA worked with a team in NHS Jobs to make the process more user friendly and trained key staff including the designers and developers to ensure that accessibility needs had been considered. It commissioned ‘easy read’ formats of a range of public-facing leaflets and training for managers across the organisation. This work provided paid employment for three staff with learning disabilities from a UK disability charity.

Other actions taken on the PTW including work experience, short and long term placements, apprenticeships (including higher level) and permanent employment opportunities. In the first recruitment drive (2018), 50% of the intake had a disability and 100% of those progressed into permanent employment. NHSBSA also works with charity partners to create opportunities for disabled people who are unemployed or to offer placements for those with complex needs. Another partnership helps young people access apprenticeship schemes to reduce the likelihood of them becoming NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training). Its Technology Services department has a significant number of staff who are on the autistic spectrum, primarily Asperger’s Syndrome.

Alongside disability inclusion, the organisation works hard to maintain the overall health and wellbeing of its people, and its wellbeing strategy is reviewed annually with input from employee networks and the Wellbeing and Inclusion Committee. There are huge financial benefits, such as those that come from the application of technological developments – enabling the NHSBSA to save the NHS £9 million, which is reinvested back into the NHS to improve frontline services.

North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust

The North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) provides an emergency healthcare service to over 6 million people. The communities it serves are hugely diverse in terms of religion and ethnicity but connecting with front line staff on D&I messages is a challenge when many do not see a manager on a daily basis The service wanted to improve representation of ethnic minority groups and improve female career progression into the highest paid quartile of staff.

Solutions included a pre-degree paramedic programme aimed at increasing the diversity of those going to study paramedic sciences. This included support from a named member of staff, interview skills training and guidance through the assessment processes. An Empowering Women internal development programme was designed to improve the confidence of female staff to further develop their professional careers within NWAS.  Candidates can access a range of modules to support their individual career plans.

In addition, NWAS has an established LGBT network, which over the last 12 months has hosted the National Ambulance LGBT conference. A disability forum has been developed, offering a chance for anyone with an interest in disability in the workplace to find out more about particular conditions and to help the Trust prioritise activity. The first staff forum on ethnicity has also taken place this year. To improve communication, the corporate HR team now produces quarterly updates on equality for managers and trade union colleagues.

There has been an increase in the diversity of applications to the Trust across a range of protected characteristics. During the time that this programme has been running, workforce representation of black and minority ethnic staff has moved from a very low base of 2.97% in December 2015 to 4.28% in December 2018. Female representation in the highest quartile has improved by 0.5% in a 12 month period and the programme, alongside closer scrutiny of recruitment and selection methods such as the gender of panel members, is expected to continue this work into the future. Positive feedback about the equality updates has been received and the communication plan has now been expanded so that all staff can see the progress being made.

Suffolk County Council

Following the gender pay gap legislation, Suffolk County Council was keen to address gender disparity in the organisation. Data showed that women are under-represented in senior roles, while further analysis showed that the more senior roles got, the more likely they were to be full-time.

The Council wanted to change the culture and remove barriers to flexible and part-time working at all levels. It undertook benchmarking with the charity Working Families, and now aims for close to 100% of roles to be proactively offering at least one specific type of flexibility. The organisation has implemented agile hiring to prevent candidates deselecting themselves before hiring because of lack of flexibility, and there is a ‘flexible matching’ commitment to protect existing work arrangements where possible if there are internal moves or someone joins the organisation. The ‘Happy to Talk Flexible Working’ strapline is in all recruitment documents and job adverts.

The default now is that all the types of flexibility are offered, and managers have to justify if they want any taken off. Suffolk employed a high-profile communications campaign to promote flexible and part-time working, showcasing 16 senior members of staff, male and female, who work flexibly or part-time in senior roles. Its 2019-20 gender pay gap action plan includes introducing income smoothing for people who need to reduce their hours temporarily because of a short to medium term caring responsibility; using an optional model to record informal flexible working arrangements to help staff when they move role or when their manager changes;and increasing fairness in performance review processes by providing guidance to ensure part-timers are given equal access to the complex aspects of their role.

The gender pay gap has reduced from 2018 – in 2019 the mean gap is 0.4% less and the median gap is 2.5% less. Engagement with the flexible working plans is positive: 70% of staff reported a good home/life balance, and 79% say their manager has a positive attitude towards flexible working. In the first three months of 2019, 61% of advertised jobs offered at least one specific type of flexible working.

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