Georgia Smith, Lead HR Business Partner at the Planning Inspectorate reflects on the recent release of Inspectorate diversity statistics.
Former HR Business Partner, Gail Larkin, blogged about why we need to prioritise equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) at the Planning Inspectorate. Since then, we’ve been making progress towards the ED&I priorities outlined in that post (and mentioned below).
Like every organisation across the Civil Service, the Inspectorate is committed to being an inclusive employer. We make decisions and recommendations that impact a whole range of customers, and it’s critical our organisation reflects the diversity of those customers. We recognise the importance of this in ensuring we are an accountable, trusted public service.
As a public sector organisation, we also have obligations under the Public Sector Equality Duty to:
- eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Equality Act.
- advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
- foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
Our ED&I priorities 2020 to 2025
- Continued analysis and understanding of our workforce diversity, including improving declaration rates and building mechanisms to report on our diversity and inclusion position.
- Reducing the Gender Pay Gap (currently at 13.1%), improving the proportion of female employees at senior grades.
- Developing an inclusive culture, where people can be themselves at work.
- Attracting, selecting and retaining a talented and diverse workforce.
- Implementing outreach programmes.
Our annual diversity statistical release provides the details on where we are now as an organisation.
What have we done so far this year to progress our ED&I priorities?
At the Planning Inspectorate, we have carried out diversity and inclusion activities in the last year to improve in our five priority areas:
- Recruitment of a dedicated ED&I Officer to support in delivery of our ED&I strategy.
- Introduction of a strategic workforce plan for our Operations Directorate with a strong focus on improving representation across operational delivery and planning inspector roles and reducing the gender pay gap.
- Continued promotion of our employee networks, as well as support for new networks focused on race and LGBTQ+. We have seen promising growth and real momentum from several networks over the past year.
- Dedicated resources for our work on apprenticeships and outreach.
- A reduction in the Planning Inspectorate gender pay gap figures, contributed to by increases in recruitment of female planning inspectors, a great signal for the profession.
- Introduction of gender balanced interview panels by default.
- Celebration of National Inclusion Week and Black History Month across the organisation and participation in Bristol Pride.
- Delivery on recommendations resulting from partnership with the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index with a particular focus on updating people policies. This included the addition of a people policy feedback mechanism for ensuring our people policies are wholly inclusive.
- Establishment of a working group dedicated to continued delivery of the Workplace Equality Index action plan.
- We also signed the Race at Work Charter, making a public commitment to deliver on the Charter’s seven calls to action.
- Continuous improvement activities for how we recruit in an inclusive and fair manner, which has resulted in a “good” rating from the Civil Service Commission (which is the highest rating achievable).
What’s planned for the next 12 months?
There is still so much to do to drive the diversity and inclusion agenda forward. We have undertaken a lot of activity in the last year, but we know that becoming a diverse and inclusive organisation is a continuous process where we push ourselves further and continue to learn and adapt.
For the coming year, we are:
- continuing to deliver on the recommendations from the Workplace Equality Index throughout 2023.
- continuing our outreach programmes and are looking to launch more outreach activity in 2023.
- developing positive action schemes (PDF, 339KB), particularly for our planning inspector profession.
- continuing our commitment to the Business in the Community Race at Work Charter and to review their 2022 scorecard report to see what activities we need to undertake.
- refreshing our approach to equality impact assessment training and continuing our approach to assessing all projects and policies across the Inspectorate.
- devising a leadership programme to develop inclusive line management skills as part of our Learning and Development Strategy for 2023 onwards.
- continuing to review and improve our employee networks.
- focusing on developing an inclusive apprenticeship strategy across the Planning Inspectorate.
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