Bristol City Council have issued a statement following recent coverage of equality and inclusion policies and processes at the authority:
In August 2018 as part of a commitment to equality and inclusion the council re-launched its staff-led groups which represent BAME, LGBT+, disabled and young employees.
At the time of re-launch staff from the BAME group were encouraged to voice historical and current concerns and many took this opportunity to raise complaints. Therefore the council made it a priority to investigate and seek to resolve all the complaints made by staff, and members of the BAME staff led group have been working closely alongside the HR team to do this, helping to ensure a fair and balanced approach.
Saida Bello, Chair of BAME staff led group said: “We re-launched our staff led groups in August 2018 where we invited staff to come forward with any concerns they had. We felt it was important to get concerns resolved so the organisation could move forward with the positive work it is doing with our newly updated Equality and Inclusion Strategy. By taking this pro-active approach it undoubtedly resulted in greater awareness and therefore a spike in complaints, however we also felt reassured that there was a strong internal commitment to working with our four staff led groups to resolve them.
“Since December 2018, HR has been investigating the complaints and over half of the complainants have already been interviewed. This is in accordance with our Organisational Improvement Plan and the Equality Charter which sets out our commitment to having honest and open dialogue about any challenges that we face.”
Mike Jackson, Executive Director of Resources – Head of Paid Service, said: “Historically equality and diversity hasn’t been anywhere near where it should be at the council. This means that despite recent strides to create an inclusive organisation, attitudes and cultures take longer than desired to change.
“Our actions as part of our new Organisational Improvement Plan include a review of our HR policies – including a systematic review for the presence of unconscious bias – in consultation with staff led groups, trade unions and managers. We want to be sure that anyone can confidentially raise a concern or make a complaint, and that the processes are robust, supportive and that colleagues have full confidence in using them.
“While we know this work will take time, we will challenge anyone who might intentionally, or unintentionally, undermine this. We must ensure everyone who works for the council is treated with fairness and without prejudice and believe the work we are doing will provide long lasting cultural change and ensure all colleagues are treated fairly.”