Law and Policy into Practice...

Diversity Works brings a competencies approach to Diversity, equipping managers not only with awareness and knowledge but with the practical skills needed to turn paper policies into measurable change ‘on the ground’ – i.e, to ‘operationalise’ their legal duties and their organisation’s diversity policies in day-to-day mainstream practice, both in managing diverse teams and in improving front-line service delivery to a diverse public. Managers overwhelmingly feed back that this is the approach that most boosts their confidence and up-skills them to take diversity forward.

A competencies approach

Most organisations have HR policies and strategies in place for EO/Diversity – supported by Executive Steering Groups, monitoring schemes, staff focus groups, action plans. But however good, these do not produce the actual behavioural changes needed by managers and staff

  • to comply with the Equality Act 2010
  • to attract, recruit and appraise talented staff for a diverse workforce
  • to manage diversity well: resolving staff/team tensions, preventing harassment, and drawing on differences positively
  • to ensure monitorable equality in delivery of public services (e.g. as required for performance audits and to fulfil equality impact assessments)

Just having diversity in the workforce is not enough. To reduce risk of complaints of discrimination, and to benefit from diversity in team working, managers/team leaders need the knowledge and skills to be able to manage diversity competently. In many Employment Tribunal discrimination hearings, it is obvious that situations have escalated into expensive, time-consuming legal procedures because managers lacked the skills to identify diversity issues and resolve them informally at an early stage.

Survey of managers’ ‘felt-needs’

400 NHS operational managers and clinical team leaders were surveyed in 6 NHS Trusts in West London and the West Midlands. All were positively committed in principle to the aims of their Equality and Diversity policies. But at the same time, no fewer than 96% said they were worried about whether they were adequately equipped to ensure their practice complied with anti-discrimination law, and about leading their front-line teams to meet their statutory duty of ensuring equality of access to services, especially for minority ethnic groups.

Asked if they had any difficulties about managing diversity in their day-to-day practice, they said their biggest problem was uncertainty, and in consequence, lack of confidence, in two areas:

1) The law Most said they harboured fears (a) about their ‘vicarious liability’ for harassment, and how proactivley to effectively prevent harassment;(b) about whether someone aggrieved could ‘play a sex/race/disability card’ against them; and (c) about how unlawful discrimination can result from actions or inactions that are wholly unintentional. They wanted better understanding of discrimination law in practical terms: not just up-dating on what the law says, but on what it means in terms of facts of their own work practice that could found a case.

(2) How to implement their organisation’s policies Most admitted they were unsure how to translate policies on Diversity and Equality from abstract words on paper into day-to-day effective mainstream practice. How to move on from statistically monitoring the symptoms of need for full equality, to taking the action that produces real change? How to conduct recruitment, appraisal, grievances, harassment complaints, team-working, monitoring, etc. in terms of diversity? What steps of leadership can best inspire teams to ‘own’ Diversity policies, and achieve equality of access in service delivery?

Their message, loud and clear: “HR and senior management tell us the law. They make policies, procedures, strategies and monitoring schemes. But we are busy managers - we have to make things happen now, on the spot. Don’t just tell us we mustn’t discriminate, either consciously or unwittingly: show us how to avoid discriminating unintentionally, and how to best manage diversity in our teams. Give us the practical skills, the tools for the job".

Diversity Works training workshops

  • In up-skilling managers to tackle those questions, we use only documentary DVD evidence that illustrates diversity practice in real workplace interviews and team meetings - not simplistic, stereotyped, drama scenarios with actors. Such DVDs bring to the training room the power and credibility of real-life work situations. They are used interactively for analysis and as triggers for structured discussion to develop individual and team guidelines.
  • Our materials for developing up-to-date practical understanding of anti-discrimination law are exceptionally authoritative - they were made for training the Tribunals themselves, drawing on real cases.
  • We incorporate the latest research, often yet-to-be-published, and supply full information of the research books and articles our training is built upon.
  • We provide full data evaluation reports, showing independent evidence of effectiveness of our training.