The Diversity & Inclusion Award is about demonstrating the value and benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce. The judges are looking out for initiatives that have delivered equality, staff engagement, recruitment, and retention. Each of the entries on the shortlist demonstrate a strong desire to change and improve the experiences of employees.
Civil Service HR, Cabinet Office
The Civil Service comprises 450,000 employees with each department being a separate employer with its own HR policies. Civil Service HR provides central support including model policies and cross-Civil Service products.
The organisation has made great strides in supporting carers, having gained 85,000 positive responses when it asked employees whether they had any caring responsibilities.
In 2018, a Carers Charter was adopted by all main departments that sets out the department’s overall commitment to supporting carers and links them and their managers to relevant HR policies and support provided by external organisations. All main departments have also adopted the CS Carer’s Passport, introduced in 2018.
The formation of departmental carer networks across the Civil Service has also been encouraged. These link carers together arranging events and distributing information and each department is urged to appoint a carers’ champion.
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During the Covid-19 pandemic, HR has issued guidance on caring, explaining the availability of paid special leave where carers are unable to work due to their caring responsibilities and/or the nature of their jobs. Carers have been encouraged to amend their carer’s passport to reflect changed circumstances and to complete a new one where they have become a carer for the first time. Performance is assessed on the basis of revised objectives which reflect reduced hours.
Building on this work, a CS Carers Strategy has now been adopted, its four priorities are:
- to create a culture where people feel supported in combining work and caring
- to engage with carers to improve how HR policy takes account of their needs
- to promote the take-up of new and existing carer provision
- to develop and recognise departmental provision.
Civil Service HR has started to see signs of positive impact, measured through its annual CS People Survey. The 2019 Employee Engagement Index for Carers increased to 59%, up 4 percentage points since 2016. The number of people recording themselves as carers in 2019 is a significant increase from the 67,000 respondents in 2018.
Law firm Horwich Farrelly maintains its corporate responsibility programme has been one of the strongest in the industry for well over a decade. From fundraising (£100,000-plus raised since 2015) to environmental awareness, mental health and social inclusion, the initiatives its people team has introduced have proved highly effective.
In particular, the team worked closely with Stockport-based charity Pure Innovations throughout 2018/19 to help eliminate barriers to young people with disabilities, including autism, entering the world of work and living independent lives. This was achieved by partnering with local businesses through a supported internship programme.
Pure Innovations provides placements where individuals get hands-on experience, develop their confidence and learn new skills. With the charity, Horwich Farrelly built its programme to include things many of us take for granted such as allowing enough time to get ready for work, planning the journey to work, and understanding what language is, or isn’t, appropriate in the workplace.
After spending three months in legal support and facilities teams, five young people now enjoy paid employment. As a depressing 29% of young people with disabilities are not in education, training or employment, the objectives for Horwich Farrelly’s partnership with PI was purposefully optimistic.
The firm’s tailor-made programme helped participants become more independent, confident, and self-assured individuals. The programme included: employing a people development specialist highly experienced in working with/teaching young adults with disabilities; and a discovery day where potential interns identified by Pure Innovations visited its head office to take part in informal interactive workshops.
Appraisals have shown that the new colleagues have become more sociable, confident and independent, with two now presenting training to the wider business (and future potential interns) on how to educate others on, and raise awareness of, their disabilities.
Over the last two years engineering firm Jacobs has seen unprecedented change in its global structure, systems and processes because of its acquisition of CH2M in December 2017 and Wood Nuclear in April 2020. Alongside these changes, Jacobs has begun introducing a global strategic business initiative around D&I led by CEO and chair, Steve Demetriou.
Senior level support has been key in driving a culture shift that focuses on inclusion. In 2018 the firm established a Global Inclusion and Diversity Council responsible for developing strategy and ensuring delivery. This council includes all members of the executive leadership team, who each act as a sponsor for employee networks. The chairs of the networks are also represented and there are regional I&D councils to develop and deliver local initiatives and strengthened employee networks to facilitate employee engagement.
Unconscious bias training has been extended to all employees on a mandatory basis and in November 2019, a second Inclusion Week was held, with all offices participating under the theme of Everyday Inclusion. Throughout the week there were global and local office activities and events equipping employees with easy, practical, and intentional actions to embed inclusion in its everyday culture. A new inclusive leader award has been introduced.
A Hiring Manager Toolkit to create a bias-free assessment and selection process focused on competencies and includes unconscious bias and encouraging gender balanced shortlists and diverse interview panels. In 2019, the firm hired 1,100 new members of staff in to the people & places solutions line of the business; 39% were female, despite women only making up 21% of applicants.
Jacobs works with external organisations including Women in Science and Engineering, Women in Nuclear and Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion to ensure it remains ahead of the game with best practice, both in its industries and more widely, but also to share its own successes with others. It will soon join the national STEM Enthuse Alliance – a ground-breaking collaboration of government, charitable trusts, STEM employers,
The company holds that its measures are making a genuine difference; it has appointed its first female executive vice president, diversified ELT, appointed its first female LoB president and first black female board member.
MTR Elizabeth line
MTR Elizabeth line (MTREL) was awarded the Elizabeth line (Reading/Heathrow to Shenfield/Abbey Wood), London, concession in July 2014, requiring the recruitment of 1,000-plus people (50% train drivers), the staged opening of 60 miles of track and 10 stations.
The company wants local stakeholders to view its workforce as an extension of their local community, supporting a station’s integration into an area and securing MTREL’s position as a diverse and equal opportunity employer. It wanted to reflect its communities in its recruitment strategy, so sought partnerships with organisations including Crisis and Young London Working, part of the Mayor’s Fund.
Community ambassadors have also widely engaged with local communities to raise the profile of the railways and the opportunities available, delivering 1,000-plus MTREL events, and supported others, resulting in 100,000 customer engagements. The SLNT has ensured 650+ school engagements and work experience for 470+ individuals.
MTREL’s willingness to look at non-traditional sources of talent to build its workforce has received much praise. It is consistently an industry leader in terms of diversity targets, with measured areas of equality, diversity and inclusion consistently above national averages. For example 31.4% of train drivers are from black and ethnic minority (BAME) communities, compared with a national average of 8.3%; 13.9% are women, more than double the industry average, 46.2% are under 35, the UK average is 15.8%. Three quarters of customer experience assistants are from BAME communities; 40% of them are female. Overall, 23.1% of MTREL employees are female and 31% are BAME and 13% were recruited as a direct result of partnership activities.
MTREL has neurodiversity level 2 accreditation and in 2019 gained the disability confident award (level 1), and is on track to be a disability confident employer (level 2) in 2020.
Surrey County Council
Recruiting in adult social care has been and will continue to be a challenge. Both the Surrey Recruitment Team and the Adult Workforce Teams have been on a journey over the past few years to make progress towards establishing a strong digital and social media presence bringing Surrey to the forefront of public sector opportunity and achieving strong collaboration between all recruitment concentrated teams.
Surrey’s learning disability and autism team was among those who strongly benefited from the rethought approach. Advertising language and methods were radically revised to allow for a far more accessible and welcoming approach with key messages and myth busters.
Once a team had successfully been assembled a comprehensive plan was put in train to make the team more attractive to new recruits by communicating its atmosphere across networks. It also added a video from the director of adult social care talking candidates through why they should apply for a job at Surrey. This video was hosted on the adverts.
Surrey is very proud of the transformation within the team over the past few years and has progressed from an administrative function to a team that consistently adds value to the recruitment needs across the council.
The Surrey County Council LinkedIn account is currently the most consistent and most successful in public sector on a national level. Adult services are working with LinkedIn to publish this as part of their Talent Voices programme so the council’s approach is highlighted as a blueprint for other local authorities.
Surrey is now working on refreshing its career pages, upskilling the adult workforce in video making/digitalisation and adapting each recruitment campaign to the appropriate audience and market with SCC values and vision at the forefront of all it does.
West Midlands Police
West Midlands Police (WMP) recognises the importance of maintaining and achieving a balance between work and home life including personal and family commitments.
Specific “leads” have been selected in each staff association who are experts in family-friendly policies, including LGBTQ, disability, faith and religion and women in policing.
During Covid-19 one third of the force’s workforce has been working from home. The remote working support has focused on maintaining connectedness and wellbeing. Every colleague working from home has received a catch-up call from a member of the Diversity & Inclusion team as well as further signposting to buddies network or the coaching service Ear 4 U.
During the month of Ramadan the force supports its fasting colleagues through the use of flexi working arrangements to ensure that they have time with their families at this important time, and support their wellbeing. Rather than being dictated from the centre, line managers and teams try to accommodate their fasting staff members as much as possible. Increasing numbers of non-Muslim staff fast each year as an act of solidarity with their Muslim colleagues adding to the family feel of WMP culture.
WMP’s Sports and Wellbeing Association offers discounts for families and regularly organise trips and holidays so that employees can bring their families, socialise with each other and feel part of the WMP family. There are numerous sports/activities clubs that employees can participate in to help maintain their health and wellbeing. The WMP Extras employee benefits scheme offers childcare vouchers and many more deals including the option to buy extra annual leave.
The impact of the force’s supportive policies and practices can be seen in improvements in recruitment and senior representation: 61% of its force executive team are female; over half of police staff senior roles (directors and assistant director roles) are held by women. Furthermore, this year WMP has attracted the highest number of female applicants in its history for PC recruitment and in its police officer-to-sergeant and sergeant-to-inspector promotion process its female officers have higher success rates.