Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Equal and Diverse

Last week Kent County Council had its assessment for equality and diversity - in its workforce, and in the services it delivers.

The Equality Standard for Local Government (or ESLG for short) grades councils from levels one to five. KCC was a Level Two, and we really wanted to raise ourselves up to a Level Three. In a small authority, it's a lot easier to move the culture. In an authority the size of Kent, it's a lot harder.

Our officers have worked really hard to raise the profile of equality and diversity. We have well attended staff groups for black and minority ethnic workers; disabled staff; LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) staff; and even the Greenhouse group, for young staff members. Every group is vocal. Every group is passionate.

For me it's a simple call. Why wouldn't you want the pick of the best talent pool for your workforce? Why wouldn't you want Councillors who truly represented the varied people of Kent? Why wouldn't you want your services to be accessible to all your customers - not just the able, white heterosexual ones?

I'm proud to be a Member Champion for Equality and Diversity, and along with my Labour and Lib Dem colleagues, I hope that last week we were able to convince the assessors that Kent County Council deserves to be a Level 3 authority.

I'll let you know how we get on!


Anonymous said...

Mr Lynes

I read with interest your comments about the Equality assessment of the council. I'm sure a great deal of work has gone into the preparation and admire your straight forward logic as regards the wider talent pool and provision of services.

My question is what are the council doing to better reflect the diversity of our county at cabinet level, as you say it shouldn't just be white, heterosexual, middle aged men?

Kevin Lynes said...

This is a really good point, and in my view, if we can steadily change the culture of the organisation to better reflect the people we're there to serve, we should increasingly find those same people wanting more of a say in how their services are delivered.

When I visited Torbay Council last week, I was heartened to see how hard they work to encourage prospective new councillors from all walks of life.