Council aims for more diverse workforce

Published: Tuesday, 30th October 2018

Oxford City Council is aiming to improve the quality and relevance of its services for the city’s entire population by better reflecting Oxford’s diversity in its workforce.

By tapping into the talents of all the diverse communities of Oxford, some of whom are underrepresented in its work force, the Council will also increase its skills base.

In contrast to other parts of Oxfordshire, Oxford is ethnically and culturally diverse, with economically active Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities across Oxford accounting for about 19 per cent of the population. 

The Council has published its annual Workforce Equalities Report. The report confirms that, while the Council's workforce reflects a positive makeup in terms of gender balance and people with a disability, it does not sufficiently reflect the local economically active BAME population.  

Cllr Nigel Chapman, Board Member for Customer Focused Services, said: "Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities are not sufficiently or appropriately represented at all levels in our workforce. We want this Council to be seen as a first choice destination for anyone wanting to have a rewarding career and we particularly want it to reflect our city's increasingly diverse population.

"We realise that a diverse workforce not only enhances the Council's ability to engage with its communities, but it also means those communities will have access to top-of-the-range career opportunities. Additionally, increasing diversity will enable us to be more creative in responding to customers and in delivering our services.

“But we have work to do to increase the representation of minority communities, whether based on ethnicity, religious belief or sexual orientation, within our workforce and we are taking positive, proactive steps to ensure this work takes place. The result will be an enhanced ability to recruit and retain staff in an increasingly competitive market."

The Council has produced an Equalities Action Plan will track the Council's progress towards creating a workforce that is more reflective of the diverse communities it serves. The plan is a result of its aspiration to become an employer of choice and better reflect the diverse make-up of the city's population. 

Cllr Shaista Aziz, Workplace Diversity Champion and ward member for Rose Hill and Iffley, said: “We must model the change we want to see across the city and we must ensure that as an organisation Oxford City Council is leading in this area of work. We cannot be what we cannot see. It is through acknowledging who isn’t part of the workforce, and seeking to understand why, that we will make long term systemic change. Representation matters.”

The report makes it clear that the Council has made good progress in recruiting female staff and people with a disability, apart from in senior roles, with the percentage of staff employed in these categories broadly reflecting Oxford’s economically active population. Now plans will be developed with the aim of increasing the numbers of staff in these groups, to include senior roles within the Council. 

The Workforce Equalities Report 2016 to 2018 and the Equalities Action Plan will be considered by the Council’s Scrutiny Panel on 6 November and by the City Executive Board on 14 November 2018.